Profile: Paul Laubach

Confessions of a Golfaholic

Paul Laubach is a 50-something obsessive, opinionated and “cheap” golf addict. He can usually be found strolling the fairways at La Costa Resort and Spa where he plays numerous rounds each year. He cannot reveal how many rounds as he wishes to hide this figure from his employer and wife (just one symptom of the addiction). His index generally falls between 5 and 7, suggesting occasional rounds in the 70’s. Mr. Laubach recently completed a 3.5 year chaotic journey to play all of GOLF Magazine's 2010 Top 100 Golf Courses You Can Play. His foibles are chronicled in his book, Confessions of a Golfaholic: A Guide to Playing America’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses. He resides in Encinitas, California, with his wife, Pat.

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NoteStreams By Paul Laubach

Who Will Be Taking Home the 2017 Wannamaker Trophy?

The 2017 PGA Championship should be the easiest to predict for two reasons. First, there is plenty of data to analyze regarding the participants as the season nears a close. Secondly, the site of the event, Quail Hollow, is a regular tour stop, so a number of players have history with this venue. As with most of the majors, the PGA is a shot maker’s tournament. There are so many great ball strikers, however, that any number of players could win. After extensive analysis, and some dart throwing, we are prepared to make the following predictions:
Cover image by Mike Davis, Some rights reserved

Category: Sports

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The 2017 British Open Winner Will be Thirtysomething, or older. Who Will Win?

No tournament is harder to predict than the British Open. One must not only contend with the usual suspects on the PGA tour, but include a slew of Euro’s as well. Clearly, “The Open” is an elderly gentleman’s event. I am throwing out world rankings and picking out the “senior” citizens who seem most likely to succeed. Here are my picks for 2017 at Royal Birkdale.

Category: Lifestyle

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Your 2017 U.S. Open Winner is…

If it is early June, the pros must already be whining about the U.S. Open set up. Since the course will be one of the longest in history (just under 8,000 yards, depending upon the tee boxes) the professionals will have to be bombing from the tee. An inaccurate drive is likely to be heavily punished.

Category: Lifestyle

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Your 2017 Masters Winner Will Be…

The best golf tournament of the year is upon us once again. The dogwoods and azaleas are in bloom, the grass is manicured and the stimpmeter up, signaling the real start to the golf season in the form of The Masters.
This major championship is the only one played at the same venue every year. As such, the audience has a greater familiarity with the course and its idiosyncrasies than any other in America, with the possible exception of Pebble Beach. Past success can be a great predictor of this year’s results, however, the hottest players on tour have never won a green jacket.

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The Best Golf Operation in America

When I finished drafting my book on playing America's best courses I described Cascata in Las Vegas as a “hidden gem”. More specifically I said “If you want to see how a course should be run, Cascata is the place”. Since it had been more than five years since I was last there, I thought my recent trip to Las Vegas would be a good opportunity to go back and see if anything has changed.

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AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Great Event, Better Venue

This week the PGA tour sets up shop along 17 mile drive in Northern California (weather permitting). The AT&T Pebble Beach tournament, formerly known as the Crosby Clambake, has traditionally been the Pro-Am event that attracts the A-list celebrities.

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The Best Spectator Event in Golf…Best Courses in the Phoenix Area

Arguably, the most fan friendly tour event is the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. Let's find out why - and check out how the last set of predictions did...

Category: Lifestyle

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The California Swing Part 2: San Diego

The California Swing Part 2…Best Golf Courses in San Diego
This week, the PGA moves to Torrey Pines in San Diego. Traditionally, this tournament draws an excellent field, and this year is no exception. Plus, we'll take a look back at the last set of fearless predictions...!

Category: Lifestyle

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The California Swing: Part 1

The California Swing Part 1…Best Golf Courses in the Coachella Valley
The PGA moves to the California swing this week beginning in La Quinta, California. Formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic, this event was second only to the Crosby Clam Bake (now AT&T) in Monterrey in prestige for pro-am events.

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Recap: Tournament of Champions & Sony Open Preview

For those of you who were digging out of the snow in the Midwest and Northeast, or those of us getting drenched in California, it was great/annoying watching the gorgeous weather in Hawaii. The football games were duds, so there was no excuse not to be focused on the first event of 2017.

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The Best Golf Year Ever (here’s hoping)

This week begins the real season with the SBS Tournament of Champions from Hawaii. This is a great event, with a strong field worthy of your attention if for no other reason than to watch the tee shots on Number 17.
Fearless predictions included!!

Category: Lifestyle

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The Golf Addict’s Vacation Guide (Trip 4, Spring/Summer 2017)

For many of you the leaves are now turning. This can mean only one thing: the golf clubs will soon be relegated to a corner of the garage or basement.
This does not mean you have to give up golf completely over the next five or six months.

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Golfing & American History (Starting in Williamsburg)

Before majoring in English Literature I had considered American History as an alternative. I now plan trips that offer alternative and interesting activities. It is amazing how many places of historical interest are situated near top rated golf courses.

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Predicting the Ryder Cup

The United States record in the Ryder Cup has been abysmal in recent years. I have seen various explanations for this, but none seem to be particularly compelling.
To me, it has always seemed that the Europeans want it more.
But this year could be different...

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And Your FedEx Cup Winner is….

Theoretically, the tournament includes only the 30 best golfers, however, a hot streak can put a number of second tier players in the hunt. Further, a weak game can take a top player and leave them on the sidelines.
The unique nature of the points system makes it virtually impossible for anyone outside the top ten to win, with only the top five controlling their destiny.
This makes handicapping the event comparatively easy. So, who win?

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Still the Best Golf Deal Around

It has been a busy summer of golf travel. In July I made my annual trek to Kohler, Wisconsin to challenge the Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run courses.
If you have followed my blogs, or, more importantly, read my book, you already know that I think the best value in golf can be found in the stay and play deals offered along the shores of Lake Michigan.

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Who Will Win the 2016 PGA Championship?

Once again, I feel the need to demonstrate my lack of knowledge of the PGA tour by trying to predict the winner at this week’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol. After making a mess of the U.S. Open (although I did predict a second for DJ) this is a chance to redeem myself.

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Handicapping the U.S. Open

No tournament messes more with a professional golfer’s psyche than the U.S. Open.
The sadists who set up the course generally want to insure that no golfer can reasonably be expected to break par. Thus, picking a winner is extremely difficult. Most of the best players have at least one weakness that they will need to overcome in order to pull off a victory.

Category: Lifestyle

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Mahalo Kapalua Plantation

Golf, Maui, Hawaii, Kapalua, Bay Course, Plantation Course
The Plantation Course at Kapalua is located at the northwestern corner of the island of Maui, elevated above the Pacific Ocean, with panoramic views from most of the holes. During season, you are close enough to see the whales migrating past the course.
The question, of course, is this an Absolutely Must Play?

Category: Lifestyle

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Shank You Very Much – Stadium Course, TPC Sawgrass

One of my favorite golf venues in the United States is the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass; host to The Players Championship.
The downside of playing great courses like this one, is that I occasionally get too excited. This can lead to early frustration and ultimately horrible golf.

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Thank You Mr. Palmer (Bay Hill Review)

I last played Bay Hill in 2012.
At the time I was overwhelmed at the influence Arnold Palmer had on the resort and golf course. The condition was good at the time, but did not necessarily stand out from many other good quality venues.
Since that time, the course has undergone a major renovation involving new greens and fairways. The La Costa Dewsweepers, including myself, made a return visit just after the Arnold Palmer Invitational, during the amazing Florida swing (recounted in earlier blogs).

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Navigating the Snake Pit

Recently, two foursomes of Dewsweepers from La Costa, including myself, embarked on our own Florida swing. Eschewing the cold and wet British Isles, for the much warmer, more manicured Sunshine State courses seemed like a good idea.
We decided to begin our adventure at the home of the Valspar Championship; the Copperhead course at Innisbrook.

Category: Lifestyle

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Wolf Creek Revisited

Every time I pull out of the Las Vegas strip on my way to Mesquite, Nevada I worry that this will be the time Wolf Creek fails to live up to expectations. I am always concerned that I may have “oversold” the property to my playing partners. For years I have been touting Wolf Creek as one of the best kept secrets in golf, with the course easily being one of the most underrated by the various golf magazines. To me, this is a borderline top 10 golf experience.

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Is Fowler Deserving of Elite Status?

Rickie’s win early in the year at Abu Dhabi was a continuation of his great golf over the last eight months, with four solid victories. The hiccup in the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open is concerning. He is now ranked 5th in the world. Not bad for the “most overrated golfer” per the survey last year. I have always maintained no golfer can be considered over or underrated. World rankings are earned, and speak for themselves. That said, is he in the elite class of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy?

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How to Avoid a Presidential Election Year

There is little I find more annoying than politics, and every four years the agony increases 10 fold. My answer…schedule more golf.

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Does Tiger Woods Deserve the Golf Hall of Fame?

Of course he does. I was just seeing if you were paying attention. Tiger’s unusual openness this week regarding his personal life, while questioning his future ability to complete sent shock waves through the golf world. Woods’ belated admission of what any objective observer could see was noteworthy only in that it came from someone who has fiercely guarded his privacy in the past, and has desperately clung to the notion that he is relevant on the golf course. I, for one, disagree with Jack Nicklaus when he says Tiger could still catch him for Major Championships, however, I fully expect to see Woods back on the tour at some future date.

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Why Should We Care What Tom Doak Thinks?

This is the slow season for the PGA, FedEx Cup points notwithstanding. Given time zone differences, I have been forced to watch reruns of the last two tournaments. It was great to see Graeme McDowell back in the winner’s circle, triumphing in a three way playoff at Mayakoba. G-Mac, reportedly one of the nice guys on tour, would be a great addition to the mix in 2016 if he can recapture his 2010 form. Jason Bohn did his best Kevin Na impression by playing great, but not closing. Three top 3’s so far this year for Jason. Russell Knox almost went back to back. Lots of good stuff, but nothing to get the heart pumping…yet.

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A New Season Dawns

If you have not noticed, the 2015-16 PGA season is well under way. Three tournaments are in the books and Jordan Spieth has yet to get a single FedEx cup point. Ditto for Jason Day. Rory picked up a couple of points with a T26 at Frys.com, and Ricky Fowler had a T25 in Vegas. The only notable finish by a top ranked player was Adam Scott with a second in Kuala Lumpur, where he has been working with his new putter.

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The Golf Addict’s Vacation Guide (Trip 3, Winter 2016)

While Maui in winter is always great, this year I would make the trek to Florida. In fact, I just booked my trip for mid-March, squeezing in between the PGA tour events.

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PGA Winners and Losers for 2015

With the completion of the Tour Championship, the official 2014-15 PGA season has come to a satisfying conclusion. Jordan Spieth, who “lapped the field” in accruing FedEx points during the regular season was the popular winner, despite two missed cuts during the four playoff events. Jason Day and Ricky Fowler added their names, along with Rory McIlroy, to the growing list of great young players that look to give the thirtysomethings a run for their money. It looks like 2016 could be even better. Here are the winners and losers from this year.

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Opening Salvo In The FedEx Cup

Are you kidding me? Jason Day fires a 62 on Sunday to back up his 63 on Saturday to blow away the field in the first round (The Barclays) of the FedEx Cup playoffs. The six stroke victory was reminiscent of Tiger pre-Thanksgiving 2009. Unlike the prior week at the Wyndham Championship (more on that later), this was a loaded field. Rory McIlroy aside, the top 125 FedEx points earners were competing. The leaderboard was littered with the top ranked players in the world.

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PGA Postmortem: The Winners and Losers

With the Wanamaker trophy now firmly entrenched in the Day household, we take a look at a great final “Major” championship of 2015.

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Whistling Straits – Straits Course

A number of the best golfing venues in the United States can be found in and around Sheboygan, Wisconsin. However, unless you have a thing for dairy farms, there is little else to recommend this location aside from the fabulous golf. As for the golf, Whistling Straits Straits is the crown jewel of Kohler. This venue has hosted several “major” PGA tournaments, and is hosting the 2015 PGA Championship.

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Who Will Win The PGA Championship 2015?

Spoiler Alert: Tiger Woods Will Not Win the PGA Championship. Who Will?
Thursday, the tour tees it up at Whistling Straits for the final major of the year. Who will be hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday? It does not figure to be Tiger. I have no feel for swing plane, launch angle, spin rate or “firing glutes”, but what I see is a player who lacks the ability to step it up under pressure. Performances in the last two majors and on “moving day” in the other tournaments suggest he no longer has the mental edge.

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