Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cigar Review: Casa de Garcia Churchill

And So it Begins.....

The first round of the season is always a crapshoot. It's early... what's the weather going to be like... what condition is the course in... and most importantly what does my swing look like after a winter of bourbon and cigars.

My answer is "not too bad" all the way around.  Golf season proper starts April 1st according to the USGA handicap revision schedule.  We had a pretty mild winter up until January and since then all hell has broken loose. The last snowfall came just last week, small as it was, but the lingering effects can still be felt in some areas. There's still a mound of snow about 10 feet tall in the parking lot of our local mall. That being said, the golf courses fared quite well in my opinion.

Four Seasons Golf Course is right down the road from my office, so it offers the most opportune chance at getting the most holes in after work before dark. I'm pretty light on funds these days with some house renovations going on, so I decided to cash in on a free weekday pass that I had won in a scramble last year. I don't really get to play much during the week anyway and when I finally would have time to use it there is a special for $7 (all you can play before dark). I mosey'd over to the course, got my spikes on and took the ever-so-useful two practice swings then went full bore at the ball. Dead pull, not much has changed since last year I reckon.

The course was wet from the rain in the afternoon, but not sopping. There were some drainage issues, but overall there wasn't much issue with club and turf interaction. On the second hole I decided to light up my first cigar - a Casa de Garcia 6.5 x 50. This particular CG is a Dominican blend with a Connecticut Wrapper. I keep my humidor around 68 and this cigar was still in the cello. It had a nice firm feel with a little give under my fingers. Normally I'm a punch man, but for this one I chose a straight cut to maximize the draw being that I was outdoors and there is more chance the cigar will go out on me with the slight breeze and moist conditions so I wanted every puff to be nice and full. In general, I like a slightly more humidified cigar when I'm out golfing since there's a lot of breeze and a good chance I'll be re-lighting once or twice - it keeps the wrapper from getting dry too fast and cracking or unravelling.

 I used my trusty single flame needle lighter and the cigar lit perfectly, no charring.  Oddly enough, some reviewers put this in the 'medium' flavor category and for the first inch or so, I couldn't understand why. First draws were very light in flavor and strength and the draw was a little bit harder than I imagined it would be. I tee'd off and went down the fairway puffing away. A half-inch or so into the smoke is where the light and smoky flavor stopped and the real heart of the stick started to hit me. It was still very light but had earthy notes that were not bitter but still left a lasting flavor for a light cigar.  I set it down on my pull cart a number of times. I averaged 2 or 3 draws between shots on the walk to my ball and found little need to stoke it after hitting a shot despite the conditions.  No, I'm not the kind of guy who keeps smoking when he hits... I take my game as seriously as my cigars. I also take in a lot of the scenery. With the early season comes the post-winter cleanup.  There were piles of tree trimmings everywhere. Don't forget fellow golf-nuts, you get free relief from ground under repair and that includes "material piled for removal".  Two club lengths, no nearer the hole, relief from the nearest point of relief. In this case it would be the nearest edge of the pile.
Material piled for removal off #6 tee box.

Dollar for dollar I thoroughly enjoy this smoke.  Around the 4th hole it really started to get into the "medium" area of flavor country.  That earthy flavor that had been light in the beginning was not really making itself known. I could only describe it as a smooth inhale of fresh sod. Just a nice, heady, thick sort of flavor. When I smoke, I generally keep the tip intact and wouldn't label myself a "chewer" by any means, but after hitting a few bad shots I had worked my way around the tip and got some of that sort of semi-bitter tobacco flavor with each draw and it only enhanced the smoke. I found myself liking it a bit more than I should have and started to chew it a little over putts rather than put it down - it cost me my birdie on #3.

Murray the Penguin approves.
The band had to come off around hole #6 before the tee shot. It was warm, but for whatever reason it didn't want to just flake open like other cigars. Still, I was able to remove it without losing my cool and there was no damage to the wrapper. I was really sad when I hit the Tee box on #8 and had to get rid of the last inch. I just couldn't hold it anymore and it started to get a little too warm on the draw, so off it went. I regret that I didn't bring another to start and for the ride home.

For the first time out this season, I put up a respectable 39 for the 9 holes. No gimmes, no mulligans, just lift clean and place due to every shot getting plugged and muddy. Hey-- it's the first round of the season, I'm not going to kill myself with mud balls just yet. 3-putts abound as normal and I'm shorter than I was last year, but hey "it's early" right?