Saturday, October 08, 2011

Mileage Run

I know I'm not the only one who considers a mileage run to keep ADDVantage status on American Airlines. Being in Dallas, and flying places that don't "touch" Texas (meaning, flying Southwest means changing planes), status is a good thing. So, I stay on the lookout for cheap fares -- with Tony doing a job in San Antonio, I've been looking there, but roundtrips look close to $400. Too much.

I'm borderline keeping my Gold status for the year (miss having Platinum, but what can I do?) so with Tony out of town and a cheap $110 airfare available to LAX, I jumped on flying in this morning, hanging out at the Admirals Club, and flying back. I know, I could leave the airport, but this is pretty easy.

So, woke up early, headed to the airport. Parked with Freedom Park (if you don't know about this, you should), spent 30 minutes in the Admirals Club in the D terminal. Didn't get upgraded (but have for the return flight). Board -- no one is in the middle seat next to me. Yeah! Uneventful flight, except  for the leaky pen that I got all over my face.

Headed to the Admirals Club at LAX. It's a pretty big place with good views. But, I like the set up of the ones in DFW better -- they have more coffee bars and refreshment areas. You have to wander around to find it here. It is better than the Admirals Club in Chicago -- which isn't bad, it's just always jam packed with people, making it hard to find a place to sit everytime I go.

First order of business: finishing up the Michigan golf trip blog. Completed! Feel like such a slacker for it taking so long. Note to self: do LIVE, not months after a trip. No fun. No energy.

Second order of business: Bloody Mary (thanks, Laurie, for keeping me out too late on Friday night!). Watch Texas OU game (non event -- it's 48 to 10 in favor of OU-- ouch!). BTW, Mr. Bartender: I agreed to spicy, and like horseradish -- but.... the huge scoop of it was a bit overwhelming.

Third order of business: Think I'm going to LEAVE the Admirals Club and grab lunch.  As OK as the food is at the Admirals Club, figure there may be something more interesting in the terminal (maybe).

So, I could be playing golf instead of doing this mileage run. But I feel I accomplished things today. Maybe I'll buy a shot glass in memory of the trip.

OK, I'm off to find some lunch at LAX. Mileage run half way done.

Day 9: Tullymore and heading home



It's a sad day the last day of the trip, but also a happy day. After this much golf, it's time to head home. Not that we're looking forward to heading back to Dallas and 100+ weather. Tullymore was designed by the same architect who did True North, so we know we'll be happy playing there. It does not disappoint. Cool back to back par threes on the front. Don't have those very often. But, the par 3s are pretty stout yardage wise.

St Ives Inn is no Boyne, but I obviously didn’t mind the bed since I missed the thunderstorms that supposedly blew through Wednesday night after we turned in. Did find out that all of us watched Feherty when we turned in (so, yes, there is no such thing as too much golf). Grab coffee, check out, and off to Tullymore.
Tullymore is another one of the top 100 courses and designed by Eng (same guy who did True North). This is the second of the two courses I hadn’t played on this trip so I’m looking forward to it. Can’t say that we were all bouncing up and down after this many rounds of golf. The entrance and landscaping heading to Tullymore is beautiful. Keep saying it over and over how I wish my yard and garden could look like this in Dallas -- no way in the world that could happen with our Texas heat. Don’t even want to think about what the yard looks like. I’m sure that the tomatoes are no more. Peppers may have a chance. Impatiens, definitely not.

Tullymore lived up to its reputation and was a great track. Could play it regularly, and from different tee boxes (played from the Gold -- this trip is taxing enough, why make it even longer, especially on the last course of the trip). Tullymore isn’t as challenging as True North, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (especially on the last day). Back to back par 3s was interesting (not too many courses have -- one of them is Cypress Point, in case you’re curious). We’re finally seeing more critters -- Momma and her babies. Geese (but not as many as at St. Ives).

Round over and Mark jumps in his car to head back to Chicago. He figures if he gets there earlier, he could wrap up his meetings and head back to Dallas tonight (or earlier tomorrow). We grab lunch at the clubhouse since we have time. Excellent food (Tom had a chicken parmagian (sp) sandwich and Bob and I had a steak baguette with horseradish and mushrooms and provolone). Jump in the T&C and off to the airport we go (Bob pretty much falls asleep pretty quickly).

Sitting here at the airport in Grand Rapids (GRR), Netbook plugged in. Coffee in hand. Tom’s photos are uploaded onto my computer, as are mine. Might have tried to upload too many photos to Snapfish before the flight, but it’s delayed. Maybe it’ll be a good sign and I’ll have to cancel my upload midway (doubt it). Tom’s over to my right. Bob, don’t know where he is. This is the last leg of the trip, and we don’t typically spend a lot of time talking. We’re pretty beat by now. Figure sleeping may be on the agenda on our flight.

How’d we net out? Can’t remember if I’ve told you, but there is a spreadsheet involved and all I had to do was drop in the last couple of rounds and then it’s all figured out (yes, there are a number of documents on this trip -- spreadsheet with handicaps on different tee boxes on all of the courses we play; itinerary formatted from Tom’s initial tee times; spreadsheet for expenses since I am the keeper of the money; spreadsheet for trash and Robins). Well, no one lost big or won big on this trip. Mark was the big winner of $40 in Robins ($20 from me and $20 from Bob) and $41 in trash. Tom broke even on the Robins and won $17 in trash. Bob and I are paying them out. But, it’s worth it. I’m sure that Mr. Say So will have to have a meeting to discuss how to adjust for next year.
And, yes, we’re already talking about next year. It will definitely be Michigan. Always Michigan (and yes, I have a bag of Better Made Butter Braided Pretzels stashed in my suitcase).

[guess my overzealous uploading is working out. Flight was supposed to leave at 530 pm. Then changed to 605 pm. Just switched to 555 pm. And, since it’s 526 pm and I only have 64 of 205 photos uploaded, I overdid it. But thanks GRR for the free Wi-Fi so that I could at least start the upload.]






Day 8: Head to Tullymore









Got up in the morning -- not nearly as early as most days because we're not playing a morning round and instead driving to Tullymore/St. Ives. Pack up the cars and head to check out of Boyne. Thankfully, our buddy was there at checkout so we could check everything and get squared up. For one of the first times since we've been going on the trip, everything sorted out nicely. Mark headed to a meeting and was going to catch up with us. Tom, Bob and I leisurely headed our way (Bob spent most of the trip snoring in the backseat).

To get to Tullymore, they tell you not to use your GPS because it'll take you there in a round about way. But, they do have a lot of big signs guiding you there (Tullymore is in the middle of nowhere as well). When we get to St. Ives, it's starting to rain. And, I don't particularly like playing in the rain. Don't like the rain gear, the wet grips, the umbrella. Nothing about it. So, pretty much I rode around in the cart, drank beer, caught up on email and a bit of work, watched the scenery. There were a lot of deer on this course -- including the two that put plenty of hoof marks on the green as they ran up from the pond and across the green.

Finish up and head to the inn to check in. Nothing fancy. Not nearly as nice as Boyne. But, we're only there for a night's sleep. Grab dinner and drinks and then head in for some shuteye before our last round at Tullymore.

Day 7: Bay Harbor










My favorite day on the trip: Bay Harbor. Start off with breakfast at Sagamores. Head up the road to Bay Harbor to play for the day. Starting off Links/Quarry. Afternoon is Preserves/Links. It's a little chilly in the morning -- with some serious wind. Will make for an interesting day.

Repeating again the wide eyed, mouth opened looks from Bob and Mark. And, Bob finally gets the bag of found golf balls that we brought along with us to hit into the lake. Take a picture of this. Take a picture of that. Take a picture of this. So, lots of pictures at Bay Harbor.

Lunch on the patio. Nice that it was so cool that we all had to wear sweaters and contemplated inside instead of out. Soup was a good call by all to warm us up.

Day 6: True North





Monday we're supposed to play True North in the morning and then added BlackLake (don't know if it's still owned by the UAW anymore) since we couldn't figure out what to do with an afternoon off (antiquing didn't really interest anyone but me and Tom). True North is in the boonies (just past Boyne Highlands courses) so we stop for a nutritional breakfast at McDonalds (after stopping at 7-11 for my coffee). Turn left at the church (Tom mentions that if they ever get rid of the church, he'll miss the road).

I don't know how these courses can stay in business because they never seem crowded, they are in amazing condition, and the staff is supberb. And, they only get play a few months out of the year. But, that's why we keep coming back.

Again, Bob and Mark are amazed by True North, like they are with all of the courses. Tom and I are amazed at how much lusher True North is this year -- guess Michigan received a lot of rain. Normally you can hit it in the gunk and find your ball. Yes, we have quite a few "gunk moments." This year, finding your ball was pretty tough -- but Bob found plenty to replace them often coming out with a handful of balls. Our cart woman -- Shelly (sp) was amazing. We must have seen her every 3-4 holes.

Lunch on the patio. Great food at True North. Few beers (of course). Our Wisconsin trip has us ordering more Leinenkugal Summer Shandy than Oberon, but we mix it up a bit.  While we're ordering lunch, we have a thought: how about bagging Black Lake and seeing how much it costs to play True North again -- less driving and the course definitely doesn't "suck." For $70 replay fee, we're in!

We start off on True North again. Don't know if our tummies were full or what -- but pretty much all of us couldn't hit the side of a barn at the beginning. At least we all have good attitudes about it. Mark, I believe, shoots a 50+ on the front if that tells the story. And, with those kinds of scores, not a whole lot of trash (well, a lot, but not the ones that make $$). But, turn the corner on the back nine. It's like a fresh start.

Dinner. Well, no one but me and Tom seemed terribly excited about dinner again at the Bob In (sniff, sniff). So, we eat at some place -- chain, oh no! -- near the casino. Wasn't bad, but wasn't the Bob In Again (sniff, sniff).

Tuesday's Bay Harbor, so we need to get rested up.

Day 5: Heather/Hills at Boyne Highlands

Off we go on Day 5 of our Michigan golf adventure. Today is Boyne Highlands, the Heather course followed by Arthur Hills. First have to make our stop at 7-11 for coffee (it's a tradition). Then stop for breakfast (buffet with egg station) at the inn before our first round. Warm up a bit on the not-so-impressive driving range (we've always thought their driving range was pretty dinky, but after Forest Dunes, nothing seems as top notch). The Heather course has some marsh, some hills, some woods. Really pretty course. If you watched Big Break Michigan, you'd recognize some of the holes here and later on at Arthur Hills.







Now that we’re a foursome, we can play Robins and team trash. Much more fun than with 3 people because the games are more plentiful and noone is alone in a golf cart. Not that we have running conversations or anything, it does make a difference.



Finish up at Heather and head to the next course for lunch in the clubhouse before playing the Hills. The onion rings are amazing -- but they didn’t have the sweet potato fries that are excellent (it's been a number of years, but Flick was having lunch with a Korean woman on the LPGA. Now I wish I knew who it was because I'm sure she's doing well on the tour.

Hills is one of Tom’s favorite tracks. It starts off pretty basic (especially since I birdied the first hole). Meanders around into the woods. The back nine is more impressive because of the elevation changes -- but the front is pretty special as well. Breathtaking views make playing poorly fine by me. Besides, we also have beer!

Finish up our round on the Hills and off to the Bob In for bear claws. We've discovered that Mark is winning the most. Tom is thinking about changing the rules. Why -- because he "Says So."

Tom and I have been talking up The Bob In for weeks. It’s tradition. It didn't have the same aura for Bob or Mark -- but they are newbies and have to go along with what we want to do. And The Bob In Again is TRADITION.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cantigny and Home

OK, objective is to get Chicago blog done and maybe a few of the straggler Michigan ones done before having to head to our plane. Today, we're playing Cantigny (www.cantigny.org/golf) -- recommended by Allison and Robert (told us about the great practice facility and the great youth practice facility and program). Mark has meetings so Tom and I are on our own. Have breakfast at a Portillo's breakfast place (not bad) and then head over. Michael Green is who we were to ask for and he wasn't in yet. So, we wandered around before talking to Rachel in the pro shop who just sent us off. As long as we don't run into anyone, we should play fast, even if it is cart path only.

They have an amazing set up -- clubshop, practice area, everything. We knew this would be pretty good just from turning into the entrance. And, for only $100, a bargain. (http://www.cantignygolf.com/). Tom and I play a game so that I will at least "try." He's giving me three a side. I start off pretty decent (not hitting my driver) with a par and win the hole. Then I stop keeping track. The course is in great condition, but with LOTS of dogleg rights it seems (definitely not good with my driver there) and a lot of sand. The greens aren't as fast as Naperville or Flossmoor, but in great shape with a lot of undulations. I just seem to putt better on greens in Michigan, Wisconsin and now Chicago -- than I can in Texas. Or maybe it's just new courses. Just don't know. We started with Hillside and then went to Lakeside. Supposedly Woodside and Lakeside are the two better nines, but since we haven't played any of them, we don't know what we're missing, or if we're missing anything. Not until we get to the end of the first nine that Tom announces that we're dormey (sp -- I'm winning!) and I manage to lose the next hole, tie and then win the last. We head to Lakeside and the starter, who reminds us of AK because he's peppering us with questions: are you an employee, what are you doing? oh, you're the two I let off. Then, Michael Green comes up to us and introduces himself. Great guy. He and Tom talk up the course and the Glen, which none of us have played, but Mike's interested in a comparison.

Mike tells us that the Lakeside is harder than Hillside and I manage to rattle off two double bogeys in the first two holes before settling down. Still not hitting driver. But, not getting into any trouble so that's a good thing. And I'm putting. This course is definitely a must play if you're in the Chicago area. Michigan like. Wisconsin like. And in the middle of Chicago.

Yes, I take Tom's money and am the "big winner" on this trip. We head to the airport where the nicest people at Alamo just about carried us onto the bus. Never had this great of service at Hertz or Avis or any of the others. Good job, Alamo. I think you may have a new customer in me. Keep it up. Go through the secret AAdvantage line at Ohare (or as Tom calls it, Oscare). At the Admirals Club. Not looking good for an upgrade. But free drinks and wifi. This is not my favorite Admirals Club. It's a maze and big and crowded. But, enough complaining.

Cross your fingers that we'll be upgraded.
Note: I will probably edit this blog when I get home (or maybe not), with pictures and more descriptions.

Sunday: Flossmore Country Club. Back to Homewood area where we lived until we moved to Puerto Rico.

I have to say, Marriott, that you need to get over charging for internet service. It’s so out dated. I know that you need your revenue and all, but it’s not necessary. I’m sure that I have some sort of Marriott status that give me free service, but I don’t know how to do that. So, shame on you, and as a result, I’m typing the blog and will post when I can do for free. And, while I’m on a little hotel rant: do those coffee pods really save that much -- seems to be a lot of plastic that gets thrown out -- and the old method got me more coffee -- at least in my mind!
Go down to look for a newspaper, but they don’t have any yet. But, NASCAR is definitely staying here judging by the group of guys wearing Big Red stuff. Maybe the pit crew for Big Red? I’ll have to check and see who has that team when I get internet. Finally have some local weather. Supposed to have some sprinkles in the morning, then letting up, with heavier rain tonight after 400 pm. We should be good for today and on Monday before heading back to Dallas. I brought raingear, but hopefully won’t have to wear it.
Unfortunately, the rain lingered. Rained on our way down to Flossmoor Country Club (http://www.flossmoorcc.org/). Definitely check out their website and the renovation pages where they have the rearchitecture drawings and before and after pictures. Really cool way of describing a renovation. Unusual since we really haven’t seen any rain for so long. Stop at Blueberry Pancake House (http://www.blueberrybreakfastcafe.com/) in Homewood for breakfast. Their pumpkin pancakes with creme cheese "sauce" were really good! Everything is so familiar to me, but I don’t have my bearings since I never drove around there to our house or Grandmas. Did recognize the Aurelios (http://www.aureliospizza.com/) on the way. Get to the clubhouse and it’s raining. Definitely taking the raingear in. Another old school course where we are escorted to the locker rooms where they have signs for us and our lockers. Rain pants on. Rain top I will try not to wear. Head out and test out the slick greens and then warm up. We’re playing today with Booker Whitt, a member. He lives downtown and has family in this area and that’s why he belongs there.
Game on. Standard robins and team trash. Flossmoor is an old school course (established in 1899 with the clubhouse built later). Redone with accolades. Definitely wanted to take a tee marker, but controlled myself since I’m a guest. Big trees, lush (and wet rough). It’s the greens that get your attention. If you’re not in the right place, you have a definite chance at three putting. It’s par 74 for women, 72 for men, giving me two extra par 5s (one that has me teeing off behind them, and one in front of them). My driver needs Rick’s help (will probably get with him soon since it’s way, way off). But, my five iron is my friend and gets me out of some binds. I’m not used to hitting long irons on par 3s, but that seems to be typical of older courses. Definitely don’t want to be in the bunkers. Or the rough. Fairways are much better. We’re just “not that good.”
But, Tom and I win the first robin. Booker and I win the second robin. And Mark and I win the third robin. Yes, I took the money today. And, that’s a surprise because I’m not a “mudder” and didn’t expect to have much of a round. Much better only wearing rain pants and a cashmere sweater that was repelling the rain drops.
Back to Lisle, where we stop at Portillo’s (http://www.portillos.com/) for a combo dip. Tom hasn’t had one. I have, but not in a long time. Portillo’s is Mark’s Bob In. Most of the people there definitely didn’t need to be there.

Tomorrow, we’re playing Cantigny, before heading to the airport and flying out. Supposed to be spectacular. We just need to hope that the rain ends. The BMW looks cold and wet -- we know that because we played in it. Probably a good thing that we didn’t get tickets to go to Cog Hill. Being a player in rain and being a spectator in rain -- completely different situations. Guessing that NASCAR didn’t get off today since the rain was pretty steady (weathergirl said it’d end in the morning and then stay away until evening -- she was wrong).

I watched Justin Rose win at Cog Hill and then went down for a drink before turning in. Some PGA Tour "people" were staying there (along with some really drunk NASCAR people who drank and didn't watch anything), including DJ Gregory, a gentleman with cerebral palsy who walks pretty much ever PGA Tour event. I've met him at Byron Nelsons, Colonials, Glen Eagle's British Open Qualifiers, and now walking into my hotel in Chicago where he was wet and getting done with watching Cog Hill. His story can be found at: http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,1725450,00.html  (btw, this is an older story, and it continues and he does -- great fan of golf and great testament to living).