Archive for December, 2012

Share your Indiana Golf Photos on Instagram

By: Tenna Merchent on December 28th, 2012

InstagramCome share your Indiana golf photos, or any golf photos for that matter with us on Instagram. You can find us on the web at, or if you are an Instagramer (is that really a word?) you can help us by following us at PurgatoryGolfClub. We always follow our friends, with the exception of:

  • Those who use bad language, meaning swearing, cursing, you know, we are a family friendly business.
  • Those who post adult content images.

Other than that we always enjoy seeing and hearing what you friends have to share.

I know what you’re thinking “Like I have time for another social media?!” As junior golfer Clay Merchent says, “Instagram is easy. All you have to do is snap a picture with your phone and post it. You don’t have to think of something witty to say like you do on Twitter or Facebook.”

So, do you Instagram?

Pace of Play by Tee

By: Tenna Merchent on December 27th, 2012

Thanks to our friend Jeffery Passage, one of the things we have been investigating is pace of play by tee selection.

From the tee

When the USGA comes to our course, or any course for that matter, they rate each individual hole based on several parameters, and can tell us how long they believe it should take to play the course from each tee. Apparently all we had to do is ask for the information. So thank you to our local USGA, and I’m sorry we didn’t ask earlier.

But one of the interesting things to notice is, logically, the time to play the golf course is shorter for the far forward tees, at 3 hours 21 minutes, and the longest at the far back tees at 4 hours and 40 minutes.

The time it takes to play each hole varies also, from the back tees, they rate the short (time wise) hole as #17 saying it should only take 9 minutes to play with hole 13 being the longest at 21 minutes to play. This will help us a lot in explaining to players why it is so important to play from the proper tees, because it is our goal to keep every round to 4 1/2 hours or shorter in the the coming year.



12 Essential Steps to Getting Great Golf Course Photography

By: Tenna Merchent on December 21st, 2012

Your approach shot into the 11th green

Much of getting a quality photograph is in the planning.

  1. The week before your shoot:
    • Contact the golf course and get permission to be there before the crack of dawn.
    • Talk to the Superintendent, this is when the team is out on the course working which can be a conflict for both photographer and maintenance crew.
    • Scout the course. What hole(s) do you want to capture. The golden hour, daybreak is very short, you won’t have time to be messing around trying to find your camera angle.
    • To start with I recommend you pick 1 hole, find the perfect spot, and focus on getting 1 amazing image.
  2. The night before:
    • Charge your camera battery
    • Make sure you have freshly formatted memory cards in your camera, and backups in your camera bag
    • Pick your lens, and make sure it is properly attached and clean. The traditional lens for landscape is a wide angle lens, but I often break the rules. Btw, I never change my lens out on the course, too much of a chance that dust will get on my sensor
    • Select your camera settings so you don’t have to be fooling around with them in the dark. I pick the lowest native ISO my camera offers, aperture priority, F11 (although I shot this at f/22 to get the star effect from the sun), and bracket a minimum of 3 stops.
    • Pack a tiny flash light, or if your phone has one that can work too.
    • Set out water repellant boots because you are going to be walking in wet grass
    • Take kleenex, the cold morning air often makes your nose run.
    • Pack a bottle of water
    • Wear layers, it often starts out cold and gets warmer as the sun rises.
    • Get your tripod ready, and attach the quick release plate to the bottom of your camera or lens.
    • Attach your cable release to your camera. Since it’s day break, you’re going to be shooting in low light part of the time. It may seem obvious, but don’t swing the cable release, or yank on it or jiggle it. You want the camera to be very still.
  3. Be at the course with your gear 45 minutes to 1 hour before sunrise.
  4. Get a golf cart go to your shot location and get set up
  5. If there is trash, such as a plastic bottle in your shot, go pick it up so you don’t have to fix it in post.
  6. Set up your tripod
  7. Use a cable release to prevent camera shake.
  8. Tuck your pants into your boots, I’ve ended up with creepy bugs inside my pants, only made that mistake once!
  9. Take pictures of the putting green. That’s what everybody wants to see.
  10. Try to capture shadows, they show the 3 dimensional aspect of the course.
  11. Get the whole putting green, if you don’t it creates a feeling that something is missing.
  12. Shoot from the time you can see the green with the naked eye, until 45 minutes after sunrise, then stop. Anything after that isn’t going to be your best shot. Remember you are looking for amazing, not cute.

If you’d like to see a more thorough version of this article you can find it Updated Article on Golf Course Photography.

Did you find this helpful?

Would  you like to know about my post production a.k.a. Photoshop techniques.

Have you ever played a 6 hour round of golf?

By: Tenna Merchent on December 20th, 2012

Or a 7 hour round? It is exhausting.

The 1st time we played Pebble Beach it took over 6 hours. We were walking, and we waited on every single hole.

On another occasion, we were playing golf with a friend, who insisted on hitting a driver he couldn’t control, every time into the tall grass, and then spent 10 minutes looking for his ball on every shot. That round took over 7 hours. It was horrible.

Pebble Beach has now successfully gotten their rounds down to 4 1/2 hours. That is amazing, especially given that if you take a cart, it is cart path only. Last time we were there, we still waited on many holes, but the round was shortened by over 1 1/2 hours. That is a huge accomplishment.

I’ve also been on the other end of the stick. In junior golf tournaments, if your group isn’t playing quickly enough, you get a red card, and if you still have a red card at the end of the tournament, your player will receive a penalty stroke. This is incredibly stressful. They are working hard to control pace of play and have a whole series on it, you can read about it at

I’ve seen players take 3 practice strokes, then back away from the tee to check their alignment! I seriously want to scream. What on earth? While I detest government regulation, I would totally support a federal law that limits a player to 1 practice swing 😉

There are many things that contribute to pace of play, and we intend to cover them all over the next few weeks, because it is our lofty goal to follow in the footsteps of Pebble Beach and consistently keep our rounds at 4 1/2 hours starting this year. It can be done, but it will take constant diligence on our part. It will also require that we do an excellent job of educating both our staff, and our guests in the matter.

Is there an aspect of pace of play that you would like to see us address next?


Nobody thinks they are the slow players

By: Tenna Merchent on December 18th, 2012

Almost no one thinks they are slow players. According to the Pope of Slope, when asked players “How would you rate your own pace of play?”

  • 57.8 % said they were fast
  • 37.4% responded average, and a measly
  • 4.8% admitted they were slow

When asked “How would you rate most golfers’ pace of play?” they got a similar but reversed response.

  • 56.2% said slow
  • 41.8% answered average
  • 2.0% said fast

More than half of the respondents believed they were fast, and everyone else was slow.

This is just the beginning of our discussion on pace of play, but for the moment, I would ask, do you think you are a slow, average or fast player?A

What Makes a Signature Golf Hole?

By: Tenna Merchent on December 4th, 2012


Our friend Brian Cable recently asked us “What is your signature hole?” Seems like a simple and harmless question doesn’t it? Well we had a friendly argument over the subject! It went something like this:

“Well 17 is the obvious one.”

“Just because it’s the most photographed hole in Indiana, does not make it our signature hole. It’s really not that representative of the course, because the hole’s not that hard. It’s an island green, and once you get over the visual intimidation, it’s not that challenging.”

“It’s 13!”

“No, no, no, just because 13 is the longest doesn’t mean it represents the course!”


“No 10!”

“All of our holes are signature!”

Okay, so on the deepest level, that’s probably the answer I agree with the most. But at the same time, I’m pretty sure that would have sounded like PR dribble to Brian.

So then came the discussion, what really is a signature hole? Is it the hole that is most representative of your overall experience at the course? If that’s the answer, then I proposed 16. But my peers would have argued with me. You see everyone at Purgatory Golf Club has their own favorite hole, and none of them are the same. That’s actually a good thing.

So we came back to the idea that the signature hole, for us at least, is the hole with the most visual impact, the one you walk up to and gasp because of it’s beauty, uniqueness, and memorability. It that is the definition, the answer is without a doubt 17, Hell’s-Half Acre, the par 3 surrounded by an ocean of sand.

Thank you to our buddy Brian Cable for such a fun intellectual departure from the ordinary, and into a lively high-spirited debated about our signature hole(s).

By the way you can find Brian at and



PGA Concerned Ban will Reduce Enjoyment & Growth of the Game

By: Tenna Merchent on December 2nd, 2012

They gave two reasons for implementing the ban on anchored swings now when anchoring has been going on for at least 30 years:

  1. Because it has become so popular
  2. Because it is no longer being used as a last resort.

They also said “In no way do The R&A and the USGA want to stifle creativity in making strokes by golfers.” That sounds contradictory.

During the press conference they were asked about how this ban would impact the growth of the game. They gave a long-winded answer:

  • Yes, the game is shrinking in the States, Europe and Japan, but growing in other parts of the world
  • The cost and time it takes to play is a deterant
  • Difficulty is way down on the list of things that keeps people from playing
  • “So ultimately, we don’t think quitting the game or not playing the game is really an option when this comes to this anchored stroke.”

I don’t see how quitting the game better than using an anchored stroke?

They pointed out that sales of long putters have increased. The logical conclusion is sales will go down after the ban. I don’t see how that is good.

There is no evidence that anchoring affects performance or lowers scores, and they were very clear to say that performance was not a factor in their decision.

Maintaining the “spirit” of the game is the reason they used to justify this ban. In that spirit, we should still be playing with gutta percha balls, hickory staffs, and using sand instead of tees.

The PGA has over 27,000 members. They conducted a poll of their members on the subject prior to the announcement. Approximately 16%, or 4,228 people responded. That is a very high response rate. 63% of the people who responded oppose the ban because it will negatively impact both the enjoyment and growth of the game. You can read Ted Bishop’s letter to the President of the R&A and the Executive Director of the USGA here Bishop’s letter reflected well upon the golf community, he was respectful and a gentleman in great contrast to the behavior and comments made by the USGA & the R&A.

What the USGA & the R&A may not be saying is they do in fact think it gives someone an advantage, even though they can’t prove it. But if anchoring really gave you an advantage, even 1 single stroke in an 18 hole round, every single player on the tour would be using it.

If Tiger Woods or Rory McIlory were using an anchored stroke, I doubt they would be banning it. Mike is quick to point out to that Tiger is supportive of the ban. So Tiger will be happy, but what about the rest of us that don’t want the ban?

This may be the defining moment for Tim Finchem, the PGA Tour Commissioner. Will he roll over and just do what the USGA says, or will he stand up and say “No, I won’t let you take this away from my players!” The PGA Tour is the 800-pound gorilla. If they walk away from the USGA the rest of the world will follow.