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)

Clinics are found on Manada's website,  $10 for a full hour clinic.  LOTS of information. Bring your notepad.

A few more puffs as I watched the clinic scamper on. The ash had grown to a little over an inch before the next gust of wind took it off. Not bad for the little toothpick. I didn't really feel like getting up to grab my bag since I was enjoying this little stick way too much. Playing golf for 28 years, I've seen and heard it all. All the theories, all the tips, and all the tricks. Doing them is a totally different story and I watched this man try to make beginners do things that seasoned pros still struggle to do. He did an exquisite job of all of the golf jargon and gobbledigook that people tilt their heads and say "huh?" and putting it all in layman's terms. I saw a bunch of lightbulbs going off and it really had me thinking that I should sign up for one of these and get my short game in order. Meh, maybe next year.

Back to my relaxation. Nothing to write home about with the lancero. Once you get into it, there wasn't a lot of change. Occasionally you'll get the puff or two of more cedar than anything else, like you woke it up from a snooze, but it changes right back to it's original smoothness and you drift off into solving the worlds problems while enjoying a treat of a cigar. It really hurt me to put it out when it got down to finger-width. I need to lose some weight in my finger tips, or get myself a clip for these gems. Either way, it was getting on time to register with the Scramble.  Cigars 4 good -  two things I like in the world, paired with my third - GOLF! WOo!  I need another cigar to go into what's happening with them, but if you follow the link and check out the website, you won't be disappointed. It's for the kids. Look them up and get out to an event. You won't be disappointed.

We started promptly at 1:30 and it was a really good time.  We worked our way around the course - sorry to say this time I was more interested in trying to win than taking photos, but I found that what you see from the clubhouse is what you get on the course. There really wasn't any difference in the quality of the putting green as compared to the actual greens. The fairways were kept quite well and the course as a whole had only a few bad turf spots - presumably from the harsh winter or a bit of shadow/ moisture that's tough to get rid of.  Of course I found one of the handful of spots - that's my luck.

Overall, Manada has something for everyone. It's a great players course and offers challenging greens and some really interesting and unique tee shots that force you to work the ball both ways.  On the other hand, the majority of the holes are wide open without a lot of tree cover so if you're not the straightest arrow in the quivver, you'll be just fine and still enjoy your round. Bring your putting game though, because the last time I'd seen curves and mounds like these I was at a strip-club.  Bazinga!
Super friendly staff round out this must-play course in central PA. If you like a good game on a tight budget, grab the crew and head up here.

Bonus, here's a few snap shots from the C4G tent after the round.  Raffles, cigars, and trophies abound - capped off by silent auctions of all manner of merchandise to help children in need.

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