Up the Road From the Open: Ordeal by Asparagus, Death by Bacon, and the Formby Hippo

formbyasparagus Less than an hour up the Lancashire coast from Royal Liverpool Golf Club, where the 2014 Open was held, is the village of Formby, which is the home of two terrific courses, Formby Golf Club and Formby Ladies Golf Club. (It’s also the home of a forgettable Florida-style golf course, called Formby Hall.) Formby Golf Club abuts the Ainsdale Sand Dunes National Nature Reserve, one whose attractions is a small plot on which farmers grow asparagus, a once significant local crop. You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new. IMG_1348-001

Up the Road from the Open: The Hitler Trophy and the Hitler Tree

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Hesketh Golf Club is an hour’s drive up the Lancashire coast from Royal Liverpool, where the Open is being played. It’s near the northern end of the resort town of Southport, and it has an enviable street address (see photo above).

Fourteenth hole, Hesketh Golf Club, May, 2013.

Fourteenth hole, Hesketh Golf Club, May, 2013.

In 1936, the president of the German Golf Union was a brother-in-law of Joachim von Ribbentrop, who later became the foreign minister of the Third Reich. (Ribbentrop was executed for war crimes in Nuremberg in 1946.) In August, ten days after the close of the Summer Olympics, in Berlin, the golf union held an international tournament at Baden-Baden, in the Black Forest. According to English golf lore, Hitler believed that a German victory would soften the multiple humiliations that Jesse Owens had delivered during the Games. Seven countries participated, each represented by a pair of golfers. The format was 72 holes of stroke play over two days; each team’s score was the aggregate score of both its players. The English competitors were Tommy Thirsk, from Ganton Golf Club, and Arnold Bentley, from Hesketh.

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You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new.

Pink Flags, Black Raspberries, and a Surprise Party for Hacker (Real Name)

pinkflag On Friday afternoon, all the flags, flagsticks, and cup liners were pink, because that morning the women had held their nine-hole member-guest tournament (with a field of ten). Nine of us teed off at 2:15, when it was safely over. This spring, Gary, our superintendent, switched us to red, white, and blue flags, to show front, middle, and back hole locations, and some of the guys were confused, at first, by the pink flags, which from a distance looked red. The cup liners were a pulsing, electric pink, and they were so bright that they drew my putts into the hole, I felt. But some of the other guys experienced a repellent effect. You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new.hackergranddaughter1

Sunday on TV: Two Great U.K. Links Courses, Two Great Golf Trips

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The Scottish Open—that is to say, the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open—is being played at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, in northeastern Scotland. My friends and I played two rounds there there in 2008. The photo above is of some of the guys on the first tee. St. Andrews is just eighty miles to the south, but you could skip it and still put together a terrific golf trip, playing only courses within bicycling distance of Aberdeen. And you could do the same in England, along the Lancashire coast to the north and south of Royal Birkdale Golf Club, where the Women’s British Open—that is to say, the Ricoh Women’s British Open—is being played. You can see both courses on TV on Sunday, and you can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new.

Ray at Royal Birkdale, May, 2010.

Ray at Royal Birkdale, May, 2010.

World’s Best Golf-Based Bathroom Reading

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A recent study proved something that most of us either knew already or could have figured out: people who have smartphones spend more time on the toilet than people who don’t. Not long ago, I discovered another bathroom-stay-prolonger: the latest edition of “Decisions on the Rules of Golf,” a heavily annotated version of golf’s rule book, published every other year, in which the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews attempt to “clarify matters that may not be entirely clear” from the rules themselves, based on issues they’ve adjudicated for golfers and rules officials. For example:  “A player misses a shot completely and, in swinging his club back, he accidentally knocks his ball backwards. . . . If the ball comes to rest out of bounds, how does the player proceed?”  You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And, if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new.

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These are the Best Golf Beverage Bottles, and I’m Not Kidding

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Usually, the “tee gift” you receive for playing in a golf tournament is something you either don’t want or already have a dozen of, like a bag that isn’t the right size or shape to hold anything you want to carry in a bag, or a vest. Of all the tee gifts I’ve been given over the years, just three stand out: a Club Glove carry-on suitcase, from my brother’s member-guest (now sadly broken); a belt with a beer-opener buckle, from my own member-guest, which is almost the only belt I ever wear; and a Hydro Flask water bottle, from a local tournament last year.  You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And, if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new.

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Reader’s Trip Report: Askernish Golf Club, South Uist, Scotland

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Askernish is on the island of South Uist, in the Outer Hebrides, off the coast of northwestern Scotland. I first visited in 2007, on assignment for Golf Digest, and I went back late the following year on assignment for The New Yorker. My New Yorker article caught the attention David Currie, a reader and retired investment banker who lives on a small farm outside Toronto. (He’s front-row-center in the photo below.)  He first visited Askernish in 2010, and has since joined the club and returned two more times—most recently in June, for the first annual gathering of its “life members.” (I’m one, too, but couldn’t make it.) You can read more about Currie and Askernish at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And, if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new.

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Rangefinders, Ivan Lendl, Lawyer Feet, a Lazy Thirty-Year-Old, a Hole-in-One, and Vegan Burgers for Dinner

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My ancient laser rangefinder, a Bushnell PinSeeker 1500, finally stopped working. The low-battery warning began flashing and wouldn’t stop, even though I replaced the battery, twice, using fresh spares from my golf bag. As soon as I got home, I ordered a new Bushnell Tour Z6, for $300. The Z6 is quite a bit smaller than the PinSeeker, and it weighs almost four ounces less—a potential advantage in competition. You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And, if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new.

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Solstice Marathon: 101 Holes in 15 Hours, All Walking

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To celebrate the official arrival of summer, my friends and I played golf on Monday from can to can’t—from when you can see until you can’t. Seven of us teed off at 5:00 a.m., when it was just light enough to follow a ball most of the way to the dogleg in the first fairway, and about thirty minutes later we were joined by Peter A., who had just discovered that he didn’t know how to set his alarm clock. He played by himself until he had caught up. Here’s Hacker (real name) getting ready to hit the day’s opening drive:

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You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And, if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new.

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The Ideal Scorecard for a Tensome, Plus a Record Turnout

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We had 30 guys on Sunday, which was both Father’s Day and the final round of the U.S. Open. Thirty is a record for us, so we took a photo (see above). And this week we’ll be using the Sunday Morning Group’s new scorecard, which was designed by Hacker (real name). You can read more at this blog’s new home, on the Golf Digest website. And, if you “subscribe” to myusualgame.com, by filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of this page, you’ll be notified every time I post something new.

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