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).

Chicago Golf Trip - Take Off

Yes, yes, yes. I know I haven't finished the Michigan trip blogging so I'm now two golf trips behind. But, I'm not paid to blog so it'll have to do.

Thank you, American Airlines, for the farewar. With my gold status on the line, getting the extra trips in is important and I’ve been checking for deals. $125 roundtrip from DFW to ORD: done! One specifically for a golf trip (I’ve never played in the area where I was born!). A second in October for a trip to see Anna, Lily and Clara play soccer (more on that in a bit). Tom’s in. Mark’s in. I’m in. Since Mark has the connections in Chicago, he’s in charge of where we play and where we stay.
A week before we head to Chicago, we don’t really know where we’re playing or staying. But, we know that golf will be involved. Find out that it’s rather difficult in Chicago to find a place on the weekend (or weekday) that will let a woman play (at all, or before noon, or on Sunday). We thought we were on Butler National (really? Wikepedia and everything I’ve heard said: no women allowed on property). I call up to Butler and ask Skip (he answered the phone) if women were allowed to play Butler. “You need to ask a member that question.” “So,” I said, “I have to ask a member if women are allowed to play Butler?” Yes.” We took that as a resounding NO! But, we know we’re going to play Naperville Country Club first -- right near my sister, so I tell her we should have dinner on Saturday.

Note to Butler, etc.: I do not have a problem with all male only clubs. I have a problem that I can't play them. But I'm good with the idea. Just jealous because I want to try them out. If you have an opening, my info is on my blog. To those of you who think that this is just "wrong" -- they are privately owned and members can do what they want. If they don't want me as a woman to play, fine. If they don't want people named Tom to play, fine. I'm just jealous!

Later in the week, we find out that staying downtown is going to be way too expensive. Allison helps out with some geography. Mark comes through with Marriott in Lisle -- pretty central location so we’re set. Tom and Mark are getting in before me. I catch the 545 am flight on Saturday, getting in at 800 am. They’ll pick me up and we’ll head to the club. Upgraded, so I’m happy. Land, meet up with them and get my stuff. Well, American calls me and tells me to check with the baggage service department about my luggage. Since I have my clothes, but no clubs, this doesn’t look good. Happily, they are on a flight that gets in at 931 am -- and the do. We just hang out at the airport until then. --- It was funny that when I was walking to baggage claim, Tom marches right by me and I have to call his name twice. With the loss of my hair, he didn’t recognize me.
Naperville Country Club (http://www.napervillecc.org/) . Founded in 1921. Two years ago it was redone. Blogs say that it’s “snobby.” But, we’ll be in good company so who cares, right? David joins us as our member when we pull into the club. Ladies Locker Room is nice (this isn’t always the case), grab lunch, warm up (greens putting fast and smooth -- and Naperville has one of the NICEST and COOLEST practice areas. It’s so picturesque with its strategic bunkers and trees and greens to hit at). A couple talks to us on the range, saying we’ll have a great time (that doesn’t seem snobby). Then off we go. David starts off with 2 birdies and a par -- and then asks us if we want to play a game. Hell, yes! Only, since it’s late -- who gets David? Since I’m the scorer, I went Carts, Drivers, Others -- meaning Mark got David. Turned out to be OK because Tom birdied 5 and I birdied 6 for the tie.
I didn’t bring my camera on this trip, but I stole some pictures off the web that just don’t do the course justice -- and if you go to their website (http://www.napervillecc.org/) they have a cool interactive map, just doesn't show enough of the practice area). Naperville Country Club is in GREAT conditions. The greens are tricky, but Chris, our forecaddy, and David are helpful in telling us where to go (and not go). Chris tells us about the false fronts that you definitely want to hit past (as Tom and Mark found out on hole # when they landed on the green only to have their balls roll all the way back.
After we played, we grabbed a drink with David. Tom was the big winner (go figure), Mark won a $1, and David and I payed up. But, I did birdie 17 (a par 3 that has gunk all around the front, left and back -- with a bunker on the right -- and from my tees, playing 170). The couple on the driving range talk it up to us. Find out that Lisa comes to Dallas quite a bit, so I give her my card -- maybe golf, or dinner. They give us info for playing Cantigny on Monday. We’ll call on Sunday on our way to golf.
Then, off to dinner at Ted’s Montana Grill (http://www.tedsmontanagrill.com/) in Naperville with Allison and Robert. Naperville Arts Fest (http://www.napervilleartleague.com/) is on this weekend. And, Cog Hill’s down the street where the BMW Championship is being played. AND, NASCAR is in town! Get there -- haven’t seen Al and Robert in about a year, I think. It’s hard to find the time to visit all of the family (and hard for Al to do the same -- along with there being five of them). So, it’s good to see them, even if only for dinner. Tom and Mark can’t get over how much we sound alike. Look alike. And then, gesture and say things alike. I know that we’re sisters and similar, but having two people who have known me for years (and put up with me on the golf course) it was funny. Al’s telling me about Clara scoring four goals today in soccer (she says she plays like I did), and Lily scored one goal. Can’t wait to see them in a few weeks. Maybe there will be time on Sunday. Ted’s is a good place for dinner -- I had a bison burger with blackberry jam, bacon, jalepenos and cheese with a fried egg -- the combo is great.

Say goodbye, head to bed to get up early for golf in the morning.