Monday, June 30, 2014

Golf after work...

Eh I've been gone a while. Wife has me on this "lifestyle change" diet. Paleo something-or-other. Food is good, but damn it's a lot of work. Between that and working 15 and 16 hour days all week it's getting that there's no time for the fun stuff anymore! That makes me sad!
Golf is a tough sport. It's not just mentally and physically tough but it's just tough to find enough time to play the darn game!   Most courses say 4 hours and 20 minutes is the pace of play.  That would be killer if it were true.  We all know that it's closer to 5 or 6 hours on a busy day when the place is packed with groups of Tiger Woods wannabes and weekenders that are lucky they manufacture enough balls for them to play golf.   It eats up my weekends and my wife doesn't like it. Not one bit, no she doesn't.  So what did I do? I started looking around and found a bunch of little known leagues in the area. After work, 5pm tee off 9 hole leagues.  Most with monetary prizes (wringing hands), oh yea! I'm working late most of the week anyway, and with my schedule there's really no heads-up to be had about when this is going to happen so we almost never  plan anything for weekday nights. Just eat dinner whenever is convenient and catch some netflix, so that left me perfectly open for a league night.  It allows me to play golf, competitively, for 9 holes against a group of others.  It really is the perfect scenario.  It's cheap too, usually $10 to $15 including the prizes.  My league of choice is right down from the office at Four Seasons Golf Course.  It's Tuesdays at 5pm and called "Our League".  Works just fine for me. 9 holes of Callaway scoring and it really helps improve my game both on the mental side and the physical.

To be short and sweet about it, if you find yourself with little to no time during the weekend to play a full round, I suggest trying this little trick.  Call up your favorite courses or check their websites for small leagues. There's often no charge to join up and you can play as much or as little as you care to. There's always time for 9, and sometimes that's just enough to put you in your place with this stupid game. You might actually find yourself having more fun and meeting some cool people in the process!

From the film "Caddyshack"  (1980)

Monday, June 2, 2014

1502 Ruby Lancero and Manada Gof Club

I love scrambles. My BOTL Joe M. has been nice enough to keep me posted on some really nice outings and allowed me to be on the team. This week we're out at Manada Golf Club in Grantville, PA.
Getting here isn't a chore. If you know where Hollywood Casino is, you can find Manada in 2 turns. For me it was right up 283 and a left turn. I wound through the back roads and just when I started to wonder if there was anything but trees out here-- BOOM! Manada golf club. At first look, its a really unassuming little course. You enter the lot and it looks more like a bar than a golf course. A large pavilion over on the right with ample picnic table space for outings. Two separate entrances: one for snack shop and one for pro shop. Once you get around to the back of the buildings, however, its all golf course. 

I think what struck me first was the bag drop. Room for 50 bags. I love it. Nothing worse than getting to a bag drop and theres a full rack and nowhere to put the cart bag. Just a sea of bags hanging out, wondering who is next.  Just beyond that theres a beautiful putting and chipping green. With real holes! (Yessssss! *fist pump*) In this golfer's opinion, too many public courses are going to just a stake in the green. When I practice, I want to hear the sound  of the cup and see the ball go in, not say "well that should've dropped I guess" as it bounces off a metal stake. The grass and turf thickness were so nice. Receptive and smoother than a lot of private clubs I've been to, let alone public tracks played for less than $30.  I guess thats one of the reasons Jenn in the snack bar said people refer to this place as "central pa's best kept secret gem". Damn right. I've played a lot of "cheap" courses, but nothing about this place screams cheap except the price. 

I sat down and decided theres time enough for a cigar since I was absurdly early for the shotgun start so I decided its a great time to try the 1502 Ruby Lancero.  I've had the ruby before in robusto, toro, torpedo, and conquistador but was recently introduced to the lancero size by my good friend Shaun at D&S Cigar Lounge - the 2nd 1052 lounge in all of the USA, FYI and the only one in Lancaster,PA or the surrounding area.  For those of you who have not seen this size before, I'll save you the trouble of a google search and refer you to this article by Cigar Aficionado magazine.

On to my relaxation partner....What a great little stick. Well little in some ways. At 7x38 it's long and thin (like a lance, get it?) I thoroughly enjoy the lancero because, in my opinion, it's a completely different smoking experience not just in the size and mouth-feel, but also because of the sheer volume of smoke. I find it also provides a smooth draw without a lot of the problems of thicker cigars,  like canoeing or even going out (for golfers that's a big plus!). It takes about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your smoking habits.  Your choice in tip preparation is just that - choice. Anything goes, regardless of the tiny diameter. It's difficult, but I went again with my trusted punch, rather than a cut.  I've done straight cut as well as V on these, and one really doesn't work "better" than the other. That's kind of the beauty of this size.

Awww.. so cute, little guy.
This particular 1502R was very nice. No cracks, and just a little give between the fingers. It was wrapped and bound surprisingly well for as long and thin as it was.  I expected some sort of  inconsistency wether it was a soft spot or a super tight area but got neither. A good, thick cap and slightly turned in edges.  I examined it and looked for any cracks or knicks, because it looked like it had been dropped on the end, but upon further research this is something 1502 does purposely. I quickly found out why. She lit fast and evenly, thanks to that same weird foot and low ring size and the draw was everything I imagined it would be from the long chamber. You certainly get the wrapper flavor right away and it's thick and smooth, with just a little woody aftertaste.

I settled in to watch a putting and chipping clinic, given by Ron Jones, PGA pro.  The wind was gusting 20-30 mph at times, so I didn't get a good look at the smoke or a good gauge on the ash. So if you want those, sorry. If you care about those... well.. you've stumbled onto the wrong blog, snob. Oh the perils of outdoor reviewing. Damn you, fresh air!  What I could tell from my greenside perch is that the lancero is every bit as light and creamy as it's brothers. Not super light, mind you, but the notes through the first third of the cigar are more sweet than savory. We know my pallet is not sought after by Cigar Snob, but us average guys will love this stick. If you're into a relaxing cigar full of the "sweet" notes of vanilla, a little chocolate, and oak then go out and get a box. I'm into the tip flavor of my cigars and this one was really mild. No leather twinge or "dirty tobacco" flavor. I think best of all there was no "cigar lip" residue despite the darker wrapper. Huge pet peeve of mine.

(more after the jump)