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Jason Won a.k.a. legitimatebeef
New York City is not the most golfer friendly city in the world, but legitimatebeef makes it work. He does get stared at walking through the streets of the Big Apple carrying his sticks. Enjoy.
How old are you and what's your occupation?
34. I work for a test prep education company in New York City; I develop and write materials and teach. Although coach is probably a better word for it.
When did you start playing golf and what's your handicap?
I first swung a club and hit balls at age 5. My dad sawed off a couple of his old clubs for me. However my talent didn’t really take off and I did not become a golfer at that time. Much later, in 2005 I got my first set of clubs and started playing in earnest. Current handicap is 9.1.
How often do you play?
Six or seven times a month, so like 1.625 times a week.
Tell me about a great shot you've made.
Well, not a great shot but how about I tell about a great score I once made. It was a couple summers ago, on an exceptionally hot humid evening I was sweating my way through a crappy round on an empty course.
So its late in the round, 13th hole of the day and I’m feeling pretty wilted. It’s a par 3, 201 yards. Pull out a 3-iron and hit it painfully thin, a skull that went about fifteen feet off the ground with a touch of slice. It’s on a good line though, and enough juice to get there. There’s some shadows playing on the green so can’t quite make out where the ball ended up. I plod towards it, walking and walking, still no ball in sight. “Maybe it’s gone through the green.” But as I approach the hole a feeling of dread starts to come over me, if you can believe that. “What if it went in???”
I know it sounds weird but when I walked up and saw the ball in the cup I can’t say I felt all that glad. Instead I felt embarrassed and shamed, as if there actually was such a thing as golf gods, who’d made me the butt of some twisted joke. And I was actually glad nobody else was around to witness it. If certain friends had been there they’d never let me hear the end of it and it would end up being a stick in my craw for the rest of my days. It would’ve been better to have made a good swing, flushed the ball to pin-high and taken two putts for an everyday par. You know, I hope to one day hit a sweetass tee shot that goes right in the hole but until then the whole topic of holes-in-one has a weird association for me. Not good times.
What is your best golf memory?
A few years ago I was invited to play Bethpage Black along with a scratch golfer who was at the time kind of a mentor of my game. My first time playing the course but I had already heard plenty about it.
Teeing off #1 was an experience unto itself. First of all the teebox is very elevated and gives you the feeling of standing on top a cliff, even a bit of vertigo as you look out at everything laid out beneath you. It’s such a sharp descent and the vista from the teebox shows you #1, #18 as well as #1 of the Red course--all these massive-looking features, it makes you feel small. I was such a newb, I was terrified. And behind the first tee there’s a usual assortment of people milling around, players, caddies, curious visitors, adding a bit of stage fright to an already scary shot.
After slicing one off and almost losing the ball in the rough and making double bogey, I made a par by the third hole and then settled down a bit (but only a bit as I would remain pretty nervous over through the entire round) and started to play some surprise, good golf: somehow I managed back to back birdies on holes 7 and 8; a devilish birdie putt on 15, that mountainous par four, lipped out; I played all the par 3’s at one under, etc. It was great.
I came back down to earth when I shot 10 on the 16th hole but still, I finished with an 89, which factoring in ESC and a super high course rating, lowered my handicap quite a bit. Prior to the round I didn’t know what to expect in bringing my newbie game to an intimidating US Open style course, and it turned out great. I took a lot away from that round.
What is your "home" course?
Dyker Beach GC in Brooklyn, NY. An old and very busy public course I play most of my rounds. Supposedly this is the course where some guy named Earl Woods picked a golf habit while stationed at the US Army fort nearby. It’s just over 6400 yards and rated 118. I could swear it’s more difficult than that. Whoever sets the holes on the greens either has no clue about golf or is just plain mean.
What ball do you play?
I’m currently playing Nike One Platinums from a big stash I bought a while ago. I’ll play any pretty much any three or four dollar ball though. Why??? Because they perform better than the cheap ones, don’t they?
Drivers: Nike SQ Sumo 5000
Fairway Woods: TaylorMade V Steel
Irons: Titleist Forged 690.MB
Wedges: Nike VR Forged
Wedges: Nike SV Tour Satin Chrome
Putters: Ping G2 Pal
I’m gonna go with the most hated man in golf, Woods. I was a fan before the shit went down and I’ll probably always root for him, partly because he’s an Orange County guy (that’s where I grew up) and partly because I feel he has done some cool things in this game.
Favorite course you've played?
Probably the funnest course I’ve played is a little track called Eastwood GC in Ft. Myers, FL. It’s short but plays fairly tough with loads of bunkers and water hazards everywhere. Probably the most enjoyment I’ve gotten from the design and layout of a course. Golfwise it just seemed to suit me.
Dream course you've yet to play?
Pebble Beach, TPC Sawgrass or the Old Course. But I won’t be picky. Let’s face it, if it has been featured on a video game, then I’d be glad to play there.
Best round ever- and what course?
72, one over par at my “home” course; it shattered my previous best by five strokes. But can’t say that I hit the ball all that great that day. Happened to chip it great and then make literally every makeable putt. I did choke a little on the 18th when I needed just a fairly simple up and down from the fringe to make par and shoot even for the round. I was unnaturally calm that whole round--until those last three strokes.
What is one aspect of your golf game you would like to improve on in the next year?
I want my swing to be frighteningly powerful, producing deadly accurate golf shots and beautiful to behold.
Right now I’m focused on the full swing and long game. I feel I proved to myself that I can shoot some decent scores. The thing is I usually pulled it off by playing scrappy short game and typically my long game is “sucks” to middling so it was time to do something about it. If you look at my good rounds, I’m saving most of my strokes around the hole. After recently shooting a 79 with 2 green in reg I could deny it no more--my short game can be sharp at times, but I have the long game of a duffer. The stats don’t lie and being honest with myself I have yet to really feel the same command of the long game that I do the short.
Tell me a story.
As a golfing resident of New York City and in particular the borough of Manhattan and even more specifically in downtown, why don’t I tell you the story of my day to day golf. I’m living in a neighborhood where transvestites and freaks with entire faces tattooed are somewhat passe. Somehow walking around the city with my golf bag strapped on I am a guy that stands out. So I get a lot of curious looks, a lot of finger-pointing from children and way too often accosted by hosers who sidle up and strike up conversations about nothing. “Oh, there’s a GOLF COURSE in the city?? You know I played some golf once. I’m not that great, but let me tell you I can hold my own. Maybe I’ll come out and play with ya sometime.” City people act like they are hip to it all but when it comes to basic sports and recreation many here are pitifully out of step.
I bike to work and almost everywhere else now a days but with my golf clubs I’m still dependent on the public trans. (Like most residents of the island I don’t own an automobile.) People piss me off as it is so for me the whole subway ride is basically a brief descent through hell but what else can you do? I have to play, it’s woven into my existence and there is just no turning back at this point.
On a typical trip to the course, I walk the half mile from my apartment to the subway station, get on the Coney Island-bound N “express” train and ride to Brooklyn, along the way passing through a wide variety of neighborhoods, face to face with the coarse, irritating peoples of all manners (Brooklyn in a nutshell). By the way the subway itself is in lousy condition. Not exactly third-world but an embarrassment nonetheless. The service is slow and unreliable, it’s noisy and there’s litter and rats everywhere. I pretty much rely on podcasts and the Times crossword puzzle app to take my mind off where I am.
Now well into Brooklyn I transfer to a local train and get off three stops later. Re-emerge into the sunlight and see if I can catch a crosstown bus. Usually it’s not there (I won’t really care because it’s crowded anyways) and I’ll walk the rest of the way, little over half a mile, mostly uphill to the golf course.
Once I arrive it’s pretty much pay the green fee and go straight to the first tee. No practice range. Up until recently there wasn’t so much as a practice green, nothing at all. The practice of pounding a few warm up balls before the round simply does not exist here. (To make up for it though the first hole is really wide open and difficult to mess up.)
The door to door takes about 55 minutes on a good day. And really it’s not too bad, that is until the last half mile walk on the way home, and up the two flights of stairs to my apartment. All together, I suppose it really is a lot of walking and schlepping. It tests my fitness as well as my commitment to golf. Basically being a golfer here is a hardship, it’s like swimming upstream, and it mirrors life in general in NYC--way more of a hassle than it ought to be, and way overrated.
Interested in being next weeks featured golfer? email us here
[ comments ]
"I could swear it’s more difficult than that. Whoever sets the holes on the greens either has no clue about golf or is just plain mean."
Well said. Dyker is my home course as well. The pin placement on the 2nd hole always drives me nuts.
Commitment is an understatement. Nice to hear about the other side. Well done sir.
To solve your public transportation problem, you might want to look into a cart for your clubs. I saw one somewhere that was actually designed to attach to a bike, so that you could (theoretically) ride your bike for 18 holes. It also detached to become a regular push-cart.
I'll have to see if I can find it.
great story and GOW...nice 73 the other day as well...
A fine addition to the GOW Club. You are one dedicated golfer. I tip my hat to you, sir.
NYC may be rough on golfers- but there is nothing rough about getting on a train and going 45 minutes to Farmington and having arguably the best public golf course facility in the USA at your fingertips- all of New York state resident prices. What's it cost to play the Black course these days, $37?
Beeef! I've always loved your avatar. Jim Anchower from the Onion, correct?
i hate to be a grammar nazi, but you guys need an editor/proof-reader. i've never been "starred" at. :-P
well that's too bad mattshaver, maybe you should work on that...
Nathan, those are not my golf clubs!!!
@mjaber: people will laugh and haters will hate but I think towcaddy is a great idea.
@homermania: I love those pathetic Jim Anchower stories, I don't know why.
@kickntrue: Bethpage Black is like $65 for residents these days!!! Plus it's kind of a pain getting to Penn Station. But you're right, not a bad idea. I'll play there soon.
hat's off beef!
@beef... if I had a course within biking distance, I'd have probably bought that instead of my Speed Cart.
Duke of Hazards says:
Congrats, beef. Didn't realize going to play golf in NYC was such a pain in the ass. Is that Dyker Beach in the photo above?
what's the cost of dyker?...seems like they would get you because of supply and demand...
Nice write up, stopped playing Dyker a year ago after a 6 and a half hour round. Tried some of other 13 NYC courses but again way to long a round. Dyker is a great course and has some great greens considering how many play every year, Marine park has to have the best greens of the lot though, tough too.
Bethpage Black Course non-residents Weekdays (18 Holes): $130.00, Weekdays (Twilight): $78.00, Weekends (18 Holes): $150.00, Weekends (Twilight): $90.00 - Not cheap but worth the price I think.
@dartboss04 prices for all the city course are found at - www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/golf not cheap if you ride but you have the option of walking anytime if you like, which as far as I am concerned you should be able to do on any course anytime.
@duke: nope, no palm trees here in NYC. That photo was taken at Rancho San Joaquin in suburban hell aka Irvine, CA. I was visiting my parents who live in the OC.
@dartboss: The public courses here are owned by the city so the fees are reasonable.
SD Charlie says:
I've always liked your profile picture / avatar! Good G.O.W choice, that was fun to read. Hats off to you for making what would be considered an epic journey in SoCal.
@legitimatebeef- I corrected your clubs!
My vote for best GoW write-up...Seems like Jason could be a regular blog contributor
Nice GoW story!
When my brother lived in Manhattan, he used to hop a subway or two, then NJ Transit; meanwhile, I'd drive up from Philly to meet him at a train stop roughly halfway and drive us to a course. After the round, we’d grab some beer and grub before reversing the travel process.
I always wondered if others were crazy (i.e., passionate) enough to drag clubs through NYC on public transit for a round. Guess so.
Lots of NYC truths in here, made me laugh
Now THAT'S dedication! Congrats on GOW
Bernie Duffer says:
From 2002 through 2006 I lived in Whitestone, NY (in Queens, New York City), about a mile from the Clearview Golf Course in Bayside, Queens. Clearview is another NYC municipal golf course and is one of the busiest courses in the nation. The neighborhood where I lived and the golf course are lovely. Clearview was renovated while I lived there and the renovation of the clubhouse was completed after I moved to Tallahassee. I played many hundreds of rounds at Clearview as well as some of the other NYC municipal courses. The people were friendly and, except when there was snow on the ground, I played all year round. I drove to Clearview in just a couple of minutes, using the parking lot in front of the clubhouse. Golfing in NYC is a lot easier when you live in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens or The Bronx. Jason's golf story is uniquely Manhattan.
you guys are all my friends.
What do you expect when American Golf controls many of the public courses in the tri state area. American Golf managed courses equate very very very slow rate of play as they pack the course for an ez 6 hour round...it's all about the money and screw the golfer is their moto.
Ben Smith 33 says:
Nice Writeup. Liking the 73 posted the other day, glad to see most peoples graphs look the same as mine...
Duke of Hazards says:
oh yeah, duh. didn't see the palm trees in the background.
nice, one of the best GOW profiles i've read.
No honorable mention of Split Rock? I played it for the first time this year and have to say it was a nice course considering its in the Bronx. Cant wait to play it again.
Red Bud says:
Does anyone else think that there should be another handicap system-maybe one that was used as odds for gaming. We all bet on the golf course but sometimes things affect our handicap...hangover, rentals, injury, bad day at office. Just wondering for gaming purposes ( not official tournaments) should there be another system. Say you are a 12 handicap but you have't played to it in months...your handicap doesn't go up that quickly...whereas if you post a few good rounds, it drops very quickly. Any thoughts? I certainly would never suggest anything other than the USGA or R & A but both are pretty brutal to get caps up when your play suggests it should be ...which can be costly when playing friendly rounds with your buddies...just curious to see if anyone else suffers from three good months of golf followed by three poor ones.
good stuff man - that's commitment for sure.
Eastwood is my favorite course here in Ft. Myers. great article
Golfing in NYC is a true test of commitment. that is why I moved to California. :) Great blog!!
I'm a NYC golfer as well and provided that we have a decent amount of golf clubs to play (although they are a pain to get to), we are lacking good training facilities. I feel like its really tough to develop my game. Yes, we do have driving ranges (like Chelsea Piers and Randalls Island) but there's no place where we can train pitching, for example, and this is a key part of your game. Or, does anyone know of any decent training facility? I need to practice shots 100 yards and shorter. A legit putting and chipping green would certainly help as well. Before I moved to NY, I could take my ball bag, go to some practice holes and, choose a distant from 200 yards and short or so, and then just start hammering balls. I really miss this and my game is getting worse and worse. I'm currently 2 handicapper. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
nice to see someone likes my home course of Eastwood GC in Ft. Myers. It is a shorter course but can get to ya. One of the best layouts in SW Florida, no houses on the course and seems to flow. It has taken a beating the past few years but for the price cant beat it, and not like all other FL courses built into housing developments. Great GOW article beef!
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