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Your missing out on some cool charts...
Gavin Pickin a.k.a. gpickin
New Zealand is home to many things, including the Lord of the Rings, one of the courses on my bucket list (Cape Kidnappers) and this week's GoW--gpickin! He's since moved to sunny California and is enjoying the fact he gets to play golf 365 days a year. Lucky @#$%!

How old are you and what's your occupation?
I recently turned 32, although one of my knees is now approx 80 years old if you ask my doctor! My occupation is GEEK--I am a web designer, application and database programmer. Funny thing is, I actually found OOBGOLF in my last efforts to find a good golfing community site. I was pretty disappointed in what was out there and was thinking about start my own little golfing community site. Thankfully I found OOBGOLF.

When did you start playing golf and what's your handicap?
My brother and my dad were over from New Zealand last May for my wedding. On a whim, I thought we should play a couple of games of golf while they were here. Those were my first 2 games of golf ever.

My brother moved here in last September, and at Christmas time (as usual being hard to buy for) I told my wife if she wanted to get anything, maybe some golf clubs and my brother did the same. Since February, it has been game on, practicing and playing as much as we can.

How often do you play?
Since February we have played at least once a week on the weekends, and we walk twilight once or twice a week, if we can get away. We got a 6 week pass for fathers day, so I got in 20+ rounds in 6 weeks, including 6 games in 5 days - I love it when a plan comes together.

Tell me about a great shot you've made.
It took place in my first tournament, my club championship. With my handicap at 28 or so, I got 30 shots on everyone, and I was in the bottom flight. Playing my best golf ever, I knew I was in the running to place. I ran into problems on the 17th green, and my head was spinning knowing I probably cost myself a place with a two shot penalty. My drive on the 18th, is the first one I sliced all day, and I sliced the living crap out of it.

From under a tree, I punch back out to the fairway leaving 195 yards for my third shot on this par 5. I pull out my hybrid (not my favorite club and my head was still a mess) knowing I need to make par to really finish on a high and give me a chance. The wind is blowing straight at me, I'm hoping I don't hook it, I take a few deep breaths and swing.

The shot came off as good as any in my short golfing life. It sailed as close to flagging it as I have done, the wind lifted it, but it just keep going and going and going and PLOP just short of the pin on the green. For a 27 capper, GIR after the first 2 shots was amazing. I missed the birdie putt but only by an inch, so a kick in for par.

I walked into the club house, saw some numbers, accessed my penalty but I felt proud I had still managed to place. Then one of the organizers walked up to me with a camera and said "Congrats, you won your flight, we need a picture." I won the flight with a card off, the two penalty shots made my score a 93 gross, 63 net, in my first tournament. I had pulled it off, thanks to my approach on the 18th.

What is your best golf memory?
Carrying on from my best shot--sinking my par on the 18th of my first tournament, the glee from a great round, the anxiety of the penalty possibly costing me, the worry they might think I am sandbagging because first time out I shoot my best score in a tournament, knowing I placed once I got in, it was just a rush. Then to find out I had won, picked up some skins, some script money, got my picture on the wall at my HOME COURSES, yup, if you play them, you'll see my ugly mug staring back at you. I have to thank my wife though, as she let me play that tournament on our Wedding Anniversary. I went home as happy as larry, and with my skin money, I took my Wife and the kids out to dinner to celebrate a great day in my life. I made a couple of really good friends out there, and loved the atmosphere. The competition brought out the best of me, mind you, it took some time to beat that score, even with the 2 stroke penalty in there lol.

What is your "home" course?
I have 2 home courses, mainly because my Mens Club merged Mens Clubs a few years back to create more variety and double the membership. So North Kern Golf Club in Bakersfield, California and Buena Vista Golf Course in Taft, California.

What ball do you play?
I must say I love my Top-Flite Distance Yellows, because I won my first tournament with them, and Yellow Balls made twilight golf and golf in general so much better when you play like I did. I use Nike Mojo balls a lot now that I can find white balls easier. Bridgestone fitting says B330s is my best match, but after my last experiment, I prefer the Mojos and even Slazenger Feel over the Bridgestone B330 and the Taylormade Burner Tour. Soft and Cheap, just like me--LOL!

Drivers: TaylorMade Burner SuperFast
Hybrids: Taylormade Burner 2.0 Superfast
Irons: TaylorMade R9
Wedges: TaylorMade XFT
Putters: PowerBilt One Putt 01

Favorite pro?
I like Tiger, because when he is playing, anything can happen. With his absence I have grown to like Fowler and Bubba because again anything can happen. But it's tough when your players are off the leaderboard. I also like Gary Woodland, Jason Day, Adam Scott, and plenty more, so hopefully one of them is making a run :)

Favorite course you've played?
So far I've only played 8 courses, 1 in San Diego, 1 in Sacramento and 5 in town, so I am sure this will change soon. I am taking my brother to Sand Piper in Santa Barbara soon, which is an amazing course from what I have heard.

Right now though, I think Sycamore Canyon in Arvin is probably my favorite course. It has sand, water, length, its tough but fun.

Riverlakes is another good course, traditional links style course, but if you are wayward, you're in the houses and your score can balloon. I like my home courses too.
I like variety and challenge so this was a really hard question.

Dream course you've yet to play?
Pebble Beach, everyone knows it's one of the top notch courses. My goal is over time to keep adding courses to my list of "Played That", there are plenty of great PGA courses that I'd be happy to play too. I'm not too picky.

Best round ever- and what course?
My best round ever was just last week. It was on my home course Buena Vista in a twilight round. I was focusing on different things, so I didn't notice I had a good score until near the end. After 17 holes, I was only 9 over. If I par the last hole, I would shoot 81, bogey would be 82, with my best ever before this was 89. In the dark, I choke, and fail miserably, almost losing my ball 2 times, and duffing shots, I take an 8 and take home an 85. Still 4 better than my best, even with a choke and blow up hole.

What is one aspect of your golf game you would like to improve on in the next year?
I have made great progress in my game (in my own mind) this year, but it is very obvious what I need to work on, these are the 2 reasons I can blow up on a hole. The aspect I need to improve on is lose those blow up holes, and this is how I can do it.
  1. Relax over my hybrid and hit it properly. I swing too hard and top this club about 50% of the time. I have worked out how to hit it, but doing it consistently is vital to shoot consistent scores in the 80s.

  2. My wedge play. It has improved leaps and bounds... but between 10-40 yards, I am still skulling and fluffing balls. I intend to get a 62 degree to help fill the gap and work hard on this, as it is the other reason I have blow up holes.

Tell me a story.
I played my first round of golf in 2010 but really didn't start playing properly until 2011. Those were my first rounds of golf, but I didn't grow up oblivious to golf. My brother and I would walk the course with my dad when we were younger on the odd occasion he got to play. Living next to a school, we would hit PWs around the fields, and go to the range every few years and have a laugh, and boy was it funny.

At the age of 18, I had knee surgery. Doctor believed I would have a quick recovery, but to insure I didn't lose my mind not being able to play soccer, cricket and everything else, I bought some golf clubs, and decided I would take up golf. We went to the range a few times, and before I made it out to the course, I was playing tennis. I realized pretty quick that if my knee could handle tennis, it could handle cricket and soccer. So I never made it out to the course, and my brother and dad used my clubs once I flew out to the USA in last 2000.

Golf in NZ is so different than here. We weren't wealthy growing up, and golf is never a cheap sport. In NZ, if you aren't a member of a private course, then you have to play overcrowded expensive public courses. Unlike here, if you want to play, you have to show up, and get in line. No tee times (in most courses around me at least), so its first in first served. Unless you can play during the week, it's very expensive and a 3 hour wait is normal. Plus, you better have your walking shoes on... as wet as NZ is, golf carts are not available at most courses, and half the year it's too wet to even play.

Long story long, I'm very happy here in California, playing 12 months a year, on great affordable courses, with reasonable wait times, and the luxury of a golf cart when the temp reaches over 100. Starting after 30 might not be ideal, but better late than never.

Thanks everyone for putting up with my rambling, ball by ball commentary, and millions of questions and opinions. I hope I get to meet a few of you guys in time.

Thank OOB Golf for being my golf home.


Interested in being next weeks featured golfer? email us here

[ comments ]
Banker85 says:
Congrats on GOW! gpickin is a good dude.
TheBrownCrayon says:
You shot an 85 six months after shooting a 119. Hero-status.
dartboss04 says:
great GOW...wow...what progress this year...love that handicap chart...
legitimatebeef says:
You moved a million miles from your home just to settle down in Bakersfield??? Why?
bkuehn1952 says:
Congrats on your exalted status as GOW.

"So far I've only played 8 courses, 1 in San Diego, 1 in Sacramento and 5 in town"

Oh, and work on your math. ;)
gpickin says:
@Beef - My aunt and uncle lived there, and after visiting, i liked it and have stayed. Dry weather, open roads, big enough but not too big, loads of pro's. Close to beach la, sf, sd, vegas, its pretty cool place.
Funny thing is, I'm in NZ right now, visiting, and watching the Rugby World Cup, off to opening ceremony in a few hours :)
gpickin says:
@bkuehn1952 - LOL - I thought Math was my strong point, or at least counting.
Edit: 1 in SD, 1 in Sac, 5 in town, and 1 out of town in Wasco.
The one just out of town in Wasco, it didn't grant me mentioning, its gone downhill so fast its practially wild grass now, sad, because it was one of the best ones 5 years back they say. I wouldn't know, only been there once, my game round ever in May '10
gpickin says:
@everyone - thanks guys. OOB is a great family, and I think I have done so well because of all of your help. I play hard and practice just as hard, and I am stoked with my results this year, my goal was break 90 then 80, but my revamped goal is now to break 80 by xmas.
I know it will be tough, but no goals, no glory right.
I know it only gets harder the closer to par, so I have to keep fighting hard. Lets see if I can keep that cap dropping.
sepfeiff says:
Congrats of GOW. I found OOB exactly the same way you did.. had contemplated building my own once!
Kurt the Knife says:
U can pick 'em. Home is where the heart is. Swing well, mate.
Matt F says:
I knew there was something shifty about you...you turn out to be a kiwi! Congrats on GOW!

id3st says:
congrats G!!!
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