Ernesto must have been asleep at the switch when he made last week’s picks, because our normally world-class prediction iguana went dismal 1-2 in teasers and a bland 3-3 overall. Hey Ernesto! Quit courting Ashley there and get back to winning! We’re a mundane 6-6 in teasers on the season 17-7 overall. Here’s the plays that are sure to get us well back into black figures!
AFC WEST IS AFC BEST!
BRONCOS-chargers OVER 44
CHIEFS EVEN vs. rams
It’s the best division in football – even better than the resurgent NFC East. Denver, SD and KC are all dangerous teams on both sides of the ball. We finally lost betting against the Rams last week, (and that’s what’s keeping us AWAY from playing Seattle on the road again this week), but the Horned Sheep will be good for at least three more losses soon..
dolphins +2 at JAGUARS
packers +7.5 at SAINTS
Danger, Will Robinson on both of these…but the Jaguars are more putrid than the Fish are mediocre, while 7.5 is a lot to spot a high octane Packer offense vs. a swooning Saints team.
HORSE AND RIDER!
colts +6 at STEELERS
COWBOYS -1 vs. redskins
The Steelers haven’t been this bad since that 6-10 campaign about a decade ago. What’s gotten into Tony Romo and the Cowboys? Have they learned how to win? Or is it all a tease
The Architect’s Progress – No Rough at Crestwood Gives the Course a little Pine Valley and Prairie Dunes Flavor
“It just keeps getting better and better,” says every member, every day.
MARCY, NY – Autumn comes early along I-90. Even by Labor Day the tops of the trees already lighten from verdant green to a gilded, burnished gold. By the equinox, it was sweater and jackets weather as the cool evening air and chilly rains began to set in, yet still grateful golfers, fervently thanking an early Indian summer, are lining up eager as gun dogs who heard the master take the firing piece of the shelf to get those final rounds in before the snow flies, and nowhere in New York State is public golf thriving, indeed humming like it is at Crestwood Golf Club in Marcy, New York.
Hailed in some circles as one of the great golf course reclamations ever, Crestwood was a heartbeat from dreaded NLE status (No Longer Exist). Under the foolish and tyrannical ownership of North Korean-style tyrant Alfred Park the course languished – it was all but extinct.
“He ran the course with a one-man grounds crew, (his son), and a pocket change maintenance budget,” recalled member after member, trading horror stories of what members now call the “Dark Ages” of the club’s history.
I mean good grief! He bought grass seed for the greens at Lowe’s Home Improvement!
But a white knight appeared in PGA Head Professional Steve Nacewicz and his family, who through both long days and nights of clearing scrub, stones, and gunch, and with generous donations of equipment and sweat equity from members completed Phase 1 in 2012: the golf course was reclaimed from the jungle it had become, and people could play 18 holes on it. Phase 2, completed summer of 2013, brought back every architectural element of the golf course: every tee box was reclaimed, even tees members had long forgotten from days before like the alternate box on the par-3 eighth hole.
“Then long runway tee boxes on the massive 605 yard second hole and on holes 15 and 17 together with the alternate, differently angled tee boxes on the par-3 eighth and 12th give Crestwood a remarkable flexibility,” said golf expert Bruce Moulton. “As of last summer, the Nacziewiczes had brought Crestwood all the way back to what it was in the Glory Days of the course back in the ’80s.”
Now with Phase 3 underway – no rough! – Crestwood is better than it’s ever been in its history.
PHASE 3 – A PAGE FROM PINE VALLEY AND PRAIRIE DUNES’S BOOK
Crestwood already draws comparisons to five-time U.S. Open venue Olympic Club because of its cunning use of reverse camber as a defense to scoring, but now with no rough, it’s drawing comparisons to two other top-ranked private country clubs – Pine Valley and Prairie Dunes.
“Crestwood is hard enough without rough. It’s over 7,000 yards from the tips and over 6,700 yards from the member tees!” explains Moulton. “It plays even longer because of the reverse camber of the terrain and because some holes dog-leg in awkward places, so position is everything. You can’t just bomb and gauge here; you have to really think about placement. All the equipment advances in the game still don’t make a bit of difference at Crestwood.”
“You not only have to shape your shots properly, but you have to plan them correctly in the first place by picking the right line,” agreed member Zach Deluca, one of many single-digit handicap young lions flocking to Crestwood in droves now that the club is flourishing. “Otherwise you could run right through the fairway and into deep trouble. You can’t just hit a bad shot and hope it stays in play for you. Crestwood tests both accuracy and distance control.”
Just like at Olympic Club, where Ben Hogan famously noted, “a straight ball will get you in more trouble here than at any other course,” Crestwood makes you shape your shots off the tee. It’s a throwback to the days when golfers were shotmakers. Take holes such as three and 11: both dog-leg in awkward places. The par-5 third curves like a scimitar, daring bombers to try to carry a swath of tall fescue or hit a hard draw akin to the tee shot on 16 at Olympic Club – the shot that ultimately Jim Furyk’s U.S. Open bid in 2012. He went through the fairway into the rough and hacked his way to a bogey.
“Now with no rough lining the fairways it’s like Pine Valley,” states Moulton. “The fairways are forgivingly wide, but if you miss them, you’re in the jungle.”
11 is another perfect example – you must draw the ball hard off the tee or run through the fairway into the hip-high fescue. Otherwise, you must club down and have a longer approach uphill. The gargantuan, uphill par-4 16th is a variation on that theme: challenge the high fescue on the right and put your drive at the top of a steep ledge, for the shortest approach in), or play safely out to the right, but the further way from trouble you play, the longer and more uphill your second shot becomes. It’s almost a heroic school of architecture shot, not just a strategic one since you may lose half a stroke by playing too safe.
“16 is a grizzly bear that likes to roar,” joked Moulton.
The removal of almost all the rough on the course – save for tall fescue and shrubbery that lines the wide playing corridors – makes the course play like Pine Valley or Old Town while looking like Prairie Dunes. Golfers can find their ball with ease and enjoy the newly created long views across the property, while the club saves a fortune on maintenance costs.
Still, as Moulton said, there are 18 big numbers out there as any hole can jump up and bite you.
“There’s no course in New York north of Winged Foot that can dole out a double bogey off a bad shot faster than Crestwood can. Any hole, even the par-3s can jump up and bite you,” Moulton observed.
“There is such a great variety of terrain and holes here, you can play Crestwood every day and never get bored because you’ll hit every club in the bag, with every golf shot in your arsenal,” Deluca added. “And when the wind blows, holes can play up to 30 yards longer or shorter. On the approaches, especially on the longer par-4s on the back nine you can hit 7-iron one day and 3-wood the next.”
Steve Nacewicz and his family are really on to something here. Under his stewardship the club has grown exponentially and the community has raced to embrace it.
“No rough is a trend in full vogue right now,” points out golf architecture Jon Kulok. “Many of the best courses in the country are cutting back on it to speed up play, reduce maintenance costs significantly, and improve the look of the golf course. You want golf to come out of this supposed funk that it’s in? Here’s a good way to start. Golf costs less, you play faster, and you feel like you have a fighting chance to shoot a lower score. Game on, man.”
“Game on,” indeed, especially at Crestwood. Talk about a place that’s firing on all cylinders. To step inside the clubhouse you’d be hard pressed to think that golf is suffering through a down cycle financially right now. Every table in the main hall is filled to bursting with the Ladies Auxiliary League holding their annual awards lunch. Next door in the Grill Room a group colorfully called “Golfers Anonymous” hands out their trophy in the Grill Room next door. Leagues have been choc-a-bloc full every night of the week, and the pro shop – once barren of any Crestwood merchandise – is now brimming with gear of every kind.
“We have a club again,” said member John Capraro. “But bet of all it’s fun because everyone takes pride in the place.”
These are hardy people – they come from the north where the oceans freeze. It’s tough living above forty-five degrees latitude: winters last for four months or longer. Soon the snow will fly for good, and let eme tell you something: There’s no light dusting or January thaw in the Adirondack foothills. Golf will be both a distant memory and a fleeting promise of spring, whenever the Weather Gods will it. But for now, the course is still choc-a-bloc with ardent golfers, all beaming bright with buoyant hearts. Their beloved Crestwood is back, surpassing their expectation with every day that goes by. And that’s enough to keep a golfer’s heart warm through the winter.
“It just keeps getting better and better…every day!” gushed every member we spoke to, and they’re right.
Ernesto and I went 5-1 last week, (2-1 in teasers), bringing the season totals to 14-4 over all, 5-4 in teasers. Our only loss was the LIONS-vikings game…who knew those teams had defenses? We also kept winning by going with the Niners and playing against the Jets. We look to continue those trends this week.
panthers +13 at PACKERS
seahawks -1/2 at RAMS
The Rams are a reverse ATM machine. The Seahawks have trouble on the road, but have enough to smear the daylights of a team without an offense.
RAMS-seahawks UNDER 54
PATRIOTS-jets UNDER 54
Not that much offensive firepower in these matchups…
MORE ROAD WARRIORS!
niners +13 at BRONCOS
cardinals +2.5 at RAIDERS
13? That’s the one that leaped off the page at you. The Raiders are the AFC’s Rams, (well the Jags are too…)
“BONUS!” SHOUTED ZORAK…
PATRIOTS -2.5 vs. jets
texans +10 at STEELERS
Please fire Rex Ryan. Please fire Rex Ryan. Please fore Rex Ryan…