CordeValle has been on my to-play list for a couple of years now. Only problem, it's a resort course, requiring a minimum night's stay. At ~$500/night and another ~$350 for green fees, you're looking at $1,000 (taxes, caddy gratuity, etc.) for a round of golf! As much as I like to waste money, a grand for a round of golf is just too much; especially considering I live an hour away so the night's stay would be useless.
Then I found out about their Youth Foundation charity tournament. Donate to a good cause, play for a fraction of the resort cost, sign me up! I've donate here and there to the First Tee Program but this would be my first charity tournament. If all charity tournaments are as fun and well-organized as CordeValle's I'm going to start playing a lot more charity tournaments.
The drive from San Francisco to San Martin is just over an hour. San Martin is only about 20-25 minutes south of San Jose but it feels so secluded. Beautiful day, around 75 degrees and sunny when I arrived at 11:30am. At the gate I told the attendant I was here for the golf tournament and he let me through. As I was pulling away I swear he radioed, "white Ferrari on the way in." I wished!
The parking lot is awesome. If you've read my other blog posts you know how much I value good parking. Large and plenty of spaces, so you can park far away from door dingers. There are also these extra wide spaces up front marked "e". There weren't any "reserved" signs so I parked in one, next to a Bentley. Pretty sure he won't be dinging my doors.
Registration was setup at the driving range area, along with a big tent for lunch.
Checked-in, got 2 drink tickets (for the reception afterward) and a coupon for 15% off in the proshop. Also got a ticket for a free golf shirt. What a pleasant surprise. I typically buy a golf shirt when I play a new course, so this free shirt just saved me $50-$100!
I decided to go hit some balls before eating lunch. Grass range (of course) with good quality Titleist NXT Tour practice balls. First dozen balls I was hitting so well, best I've hit my irons ever. Then I couldn't even make contact with the ball on the next dozen. Got really frustrated so decided to go eat lunch. Nothing fancy, turkey sandwich, apple, cookie, etc. After lunch we met our forecaddie. He would be guiding us, spotting our ball and helping us read the greens.
1pm, go time! The tournament format is best ball in the foursome. Basically everbody plays their own ball and the group takes the best score. We actually only had 3 in our group (the 4th score would be a "blind draw"). One guy was retired, took up golf as hobby and now plays twice a week. The other guy was around my age. He's really into golf. I mean really into golf. If you think I'm into golf, this guy makes me look like a casual fan.
We would start on the 9th hole. I had about an 6 footer to save par and ended up making double bogey. Holy crap the greens are fast! Definitely the fastest greens I've putted on. Faster than the Lake course at Olympic Club, faster than Pebble Beach the week before the 2010 US Open. I don't know if the greens are just really fast or maybe I was above the hole a lot. Very nice greens, rolls great. But surprisingly, there wasn't as much break as I thought. I'd read a 6 inch break and it was maybe 3 inch. A lot of putts ended up fairly straight, just needed to get the speed right. Maybe the wind was straightening out some of the putts.
Ah, yes, the wind. It was blowing today. I figured CordeValle would be a little breezy but it was very windy today. There was a stretch of holes straight into the wind that played easily 2 clubs longer.
Some really beautiful holes. The par 5s and par 3s were great. The par 4 8th is a nice short one with water on the right. Bunkering is beautiful with real, white sand. The rough wasn't particularly long but the ball seemed to really sit down and the grass felt really thick. Very punitive being in the rough for a "sweeper" like me.
I didn't enjoy the round as much as I should because I couldn't hit a good drive to save my life. The driver was my number 1 club. I felt so confident, so comfortable with the driver. I had this swagger, knowing I could step up and hit a good drive. Then something happened about 2 months ago and now I'm like a 30 handicap just trying to make contact with the ball. I'm not sure if it's physical (my back and hips have been giving me a lot of problems lately) or mental.
The good news is, I've figured out my irons. Best I've hit my irons ever. I've figured out how to stop hooking my irons by keeping the face square through impact. Much, much straighter now. Even into a stong headwind I was hittng my irons really well, with very little sidespin. I loved the par 3s todays. But if you pop fly your drive 50 yards your iron play doesn't really matter. Sigh.
After the round there was a small reception with a taco buffet and a wine/beer bar. Winners were given prizes. Damn nice prizes too! The winning foursome got 4 Nike hybrids, 2nd place got some Vokey wedges.
Overall, really great charity tournament. The staff was great, the event well run, the venue amazing. Frankly, I would have gladly paid 2x the donation. If you are reading this now, quickly sign up for the next CordeValle Youth Foundation tournament. I can't recommend it enough. Yes, it's on a Monday. Call in sick, take a vacation day, quit your job. You won't regret it.
And oh, my favorite photo from today,
Nice towel holder!