After-Christmas Round: St. Mark Golf Club on 12/27

Got invited to play with a friend, his father, and a family friend on Monday. It was a no-brainer.

The place we were playing was the St. Mark Golf Club in San Marcos. No, not the executive course; the full-blown par 71 course. I was excited and a little nervous: I’d never played the course before and, well, last time I played, I rolled my ankle and really hurt myself.

I got there very early since there was little traffic on a pre-rainy morning after a holiday. It was cold and the course was going to be wet since it’s been raining a ton in SoCal.

Arriving was surreal. My grandparents lived in this community, which is next to Lake San Marcos. I’d seen several holes before but … well, I didn’t play golf while they lived there. That would have been a lovely way to both practice my hobby and visit with them. As it was, it was bizarre to drive past the street to their house and not go down it. Also bizarre was going into the pro shop.

The other big thing was that I was going to put my Christmas present to good use: I was going to use my new Arccos Caddie and Arccos Caddie Link to track my performance. Nice thing is that it’ll give me 18 screenshots of my performance.

I warmed up putts, full swings, but not really any chips. My irons were okay but my 3 wood was a little crazy. I didn’t even try the driver.

Then, before you know it, we were on the first tee. But here were my goals for the round:

  • Have fun.
  • Get it on the green. Get it on the green at your first opportunity and take the shot that makes that the easiest.
  • Make all putts that are 1.5 yards and shorter.
  • Give yourself a shot a par and convert.
  • You can check your score if you can forget about it after.
  • Give yourself a break. 
  • Commit to the shot. Have it in your mind what you want to have happen.

The only one that requires particular notes would be “Give yourself a break.” It is just: don’t feel back if you screw up. Golf is hard.

Hole 1

Okay these screenshots aren’t the best for reviewing what actually happened.

But hole 1 is a short par 4, so I had planned to go 7 iron off the tee and then 7 iron toward the green, which should have put me on the green if I hit it my standard 150 yards.

However, my first tee shot never goes to plan (apparently). I shanked my 7 iron off the tee, right into a tree about 100 yards from the pin.

So shot 2 was a punch out to the fairway, leaving me about 130 yards from the green. That’s 8 iron attack mode.

Unfortunately, I hit a fairly chunky 8 iron that faded to the right of the sand trap. I needed my 4th shot to carry the bunker at about 20 yards – and I hit it 19.

So I failed at goal #2. I should have given more juice to get it onto the green. Fortunately, I hit a great one out of the bunker with the ball rolling out to about 2 yards. Made that putt for a double-bogey or a net par.

Honestly, I felt really good about this considering the failed tee shot. I think next time, I’ll try to hit my 3 wood off the tee, aiming the left side of the fairway. That should give me a 8 iron to 9 iron to the green. And getting on the green in 2 would be a coup for sure.

Hole 2

This is a longer par 4 that is really open  (much more open than I thought) so I decided to hit 3 wood off the tee. I overswung and topped by 3 wood about 8 yards – still in the fairway. I walked up and hit it again, this time getting the ball to about 124 yards.

I noticed on this hole that, similar to hole 1, balls were not rolling out at all. 

Well, at least I noticed when I was writing this. I didn’t notice it at the time.

The fairways were saturated and so a well-hit 3 wood for me, which would normally roll out, just stopped at 124 yards.

For my third shot, I hit 8 iron, decided that it would give me an 8 iron into the green. I compressed the ball well and ended up about 110 yards from the pin.

I hit an excellent pitching wedge onto the green, and felt really good. I missed long, but I can putt it out. So what if it’s a 36 foot putt?

Unfortunately, I didn’t really pay attention to the green and the ball RAN well past the hole on my downhill putt. I missed my second putt close but not close enough. Then I missed the tap-in and finally finished for a 4-putt 8. 

Hole 3

It’s a longer par 3 so I hit 6 iron off the tee. The 6 iron was exactly what I had hoped for, especially considering it was going uphill. Unfortunately, I hit the spot I was aiming at exactly, which meant that I … was in the bunker in front of the green.

But I felt confident out of the sand so I grabbed my sand wedge and chipped it up – and just into the lip. The ball rolled down – and I chipped it back up … also into the lip.

The third time, I chipped it out, but left myself 10 yards to the hole. Oh, and I was on the fringe. 

So I putted on leaving myself 3 yards to the pin. Then I putted close and finally ended with a 7.

I was certainly thinking par off the tee and even off the second shot. Well, until it stopped in the lip of the bunker.

This is one of those times when Arccos is a bit challenging. Literally all the shots were from the same spot.

Hole 4

This hole doglegs left. I hit my 3 wood off the tee, aiming up the left side, so that when I blocked it out right, it was still in play. Indeed, I had an excellent bounce back into the fairway. It was a 200 yard drive.

At this point, I had no idea how long I was expecting the second shot to go. But the dogleg is protected by this massive tree. I remember aiming toward the right side of the branches on top of the tree and I instead pulled my 8 iron, left, into the tree.

The ball dropped OB but I … I played from OB. It was only a yard into the OB and I paid my dues: my pitching wedge punch shot went into the tree and died. I was about 100 yards from the green and hit a great pitching wedge that ended up bouncing off the green long.

I had 27 yards to the pin and it was really short sided. So I hit an excellent lob wedge just onto the fringe, which trickled down toward the hole. That left me under 2 yards which I made for a double bogey save.

Hole 5

At this point, I was feeling pretty good. Hole 5 looks to be wide open, as hole 6 runs alongside the fairway.

I hit a driver that sliced very far right, actually into the bunker that guards hole 6’s green. But it was in play and sitting nicely in the bunker.

Incidentally, this is the hole that gets this treatment on reddit. I did not see this sign.

I hit my pitching wedge out of the bunker and it was beautiful. 117 yards, over trees, into the fairway, 28 yards from the pin. I hit a decent lob wedge pitch shot to leave me 10 feet to the pin. A 2-putt for bogey which I was happy with, especially since the previous holes had gone terribly from that distance.

In this case, I probably should have hit 8 iron from the sand. I likely could have held the green.

Hole 6

This is a par 3 that is a little downhill. For whatever reason, I wasn’t playing like the course was soaked so I assumed a roll-out on all of my shots. So I hit a 8 iron here since it was about 120 to the front of the green. But I chunked the shot a bit and the ball died in some muck right of the green.

Lifted, cleaned and replaced at the nearest point of relief, which was 20 yards from the pin and about a 12 yard carry. Unfortunately, I chipped it 11 yards, where the ball stopped, and I ended up having to putt from the fringe.

Once again, I was thinking par when I should have been hoping for bogey.

The result was I missed the chip putt long, then missed the second putt (which should have gotten closer than it was). Missed the tap in and finally ended my misery for another triple.

Hole 7 is the first par 5 and it’s a huge dogleg left. I hit a great 6 iron tee shot to 151 yards down the middle of the fairway, leaving me about 250 yards away — but I’d have to cut the corner.

There was a huge eucalyptus tree guarding my approach over the pond that protects that angle. Fortunately, the eucalyptus tree is on the far side of the water, so hitting into the tree wasn’t a bad thing: I’d still be over the water.

So I focused on a gap at the top of the tree and cranked my pitching wedge over the tree. The shot hit that gap perfectly and came to rest 130 yards away.

This left me about 180 to the pin so I hit another 6 iron. My goal wasn’t to hit the green, but give me a chippable option for an up-and-down par.

I did give myself that option but I was some 35 from the pin. I hit a lob wedge that died at 22 yards instead of 23, so it just stopped. Then I tried a bump and run SW shot from the rough which was ill advised: this green was slippery and my bump and run ran off the green.

That meant I had to chip on … again with my putter from like 25 feet away. Fortunately, it was a good chip putt, allowing me to easily save double-bogey.

But always fun to do exactly what you hoped and then completely fail.

Hole 8 is a straightforward dogleg right. Dogleg is at about 210 yards, so I decided that, despite not warming it up at all, I would hit driver.

I hit my first ball low and into a tree, after tapping the ball off the tee with driver. So I gave that ball up for lost and hit a provisional off the tee for 3.

It sliced very far right, into the fairway of hole 9. But I wasn’t too concerned. I was only 150 from the pin. I’d cut the corner!

… only that there were a LOT of trees between me and the pin.

My first pitching wedge shot was a perfect punch shot that … hit a tree and died.

My second punch shot, 50 yards closer to the pin, was also a great punch shot that … hit a tree and died.

My third shot approach shot (lying 6)  was free and clear, under the tree I’d hit, and 45 yards from the green. I hit it short of the pin, into the fairway approaching the green. I finally putted on, then I two-putted for a 9.

I should have stuck with my plan which was: 3 wood off the tee and pitching wedge to the green. Gosh wouldn’t that be idyllic? Oh, I also very easily found my “lost” ball.

What a doofus I am sometimes: yeah my driver off the tee was bad but I could have gone: PW to the corner, PW to the green. Two-putt for a 5.

Hole 9

Learning my lesson from hole 8, I decided to hit 6 iron off the tee, at a tree distant in the fairway. My 6 iron ran through the fairway to some 180 yards out. I decided to hit 8 iron to give me a SW in, which I think was the wrong choice. I should have gone 3 wood to reach the green, I think. Or 6 iron. Anything but sand wedge.

Anyway, 8 iron back into the fairway, about 80 yards from the pin. That’s SW distance but I managed to hit a fade that was pin high but very right. That left me 17 yards from the pin, which I apparently hit very well, to about 5 feet. I promptly missed that bogey putt and made a double for a net par.

So on the front 9, that was a 60, 25 over through 9. Obviously, there was a +5 and two +4’s that accounted for about half of that in 3 holes.

5 of my 10 tee shots were good and, honestly, taking the penalty on hole 8 was one of the stupider things I’ve done recently. I very likely could have had a double for 3 strokes better. Also, not screwing up the tee shots on hole 1, hole 2, and hole 5 would have made a big difference too.

Since my tee shots were bad on half my holes, my approach game was bad. Ideally, I’d have just 11 (1 on 1,5, and 8). I had 16.

Since I didn’t hit any greens, I should have had 9 chip shots. Instead, I had 17. So that was about 2 per hole, but I only had three holes where I had 1 or 0 chips. So that means my chipping cost me … a lot of strokes.

Putting was decent, especially considering the 4-putt on 2. Without that, I woulda had 15 putts which would be excellent. 4 1-putts ain’t bad, especially since I had a double chip on nearly every hole.

Hole 10, after eating something, i resolved to not be dumb. In this case, it meant not hitting the driver again. It’s too unpredictable at this point.

I was also going to not be dumb. Why take a lost ball penalty when you don’t have to?

So that meant it was a 6 iron off the tee on hole 10, despite the wide-open nature of the hole. I managed to have the longest drive with a 152 yard tee shot. Then I had another, excellent 159 yard 6 iron, also in the fairway, leaving me about 120 yards out.

The shot was really downwind, so I hit pitching wedge. Unfortunately, I faded it a bit out of bounds. So I rehit and ended up on the green, 31 feet from the pin.

Then i drained that 31 footer for a bogey. That’s pretty sweet. Woulda been a par!

I also found that ball in the OB. So that’s still no lost balls 🙂

EDIT: i think Arrcos’s scorekeeping (not mine, of course) is off on this hole. I don’t know how I can get a bogey without holing if the ball goes OB. 

Hole 11

A shorter, fairly downhill and downwind Par 3. The pin was at about 140 yards, but I decided to hit 9 iron for a reason that still escapes me. It was slightly downhill?

Anyway, my 9 iron shot was short and all I could think about my chip shot was: don’t be short. Don’t be short.

Naturally, I shorted my lob wedge and … it stuck into the fringe.

I really should have used a sand wedge or a pitching wedge. Then the ball would have been on the green.

As it was, I could putt from the fringe. A good fringe putt set up a tap-in bogey. That’s nice.

Hole 12 is an absurdly hard hole. It’s nearly 600 yards and goes uphill, slightly.

I likely should have hit 3 wood but instead I hit a chunky 6 iron off the tee to 120 yards. Then I hit a poor 6 iron up the hill, 131 yards. Since I had over 350 yards to go, I decided to go with what I knew and hit my 8 iron.

This was a good strike and the ball came to rest 141 yards away. Another blasted 8 iron left me 50 yards out to the green, sitting on 4 strokes.

I wasn’t really expecting par but bogey was in my mind a bit. After all, it’s a 600-yard par 5! So I had 50 yards from the green and hit a full lob wedge … which tends to go about 65 yards. Although it’s a long green, it’s not that long.

My par shot ran long of the green and, frankly, I was terrified by my miss. On a dry day, i would have run out to probably 20 yards long, making my chances of double-bogey non-existent.

But as it was, I was on the fringe and made one of the better chips of the round. A 13 yard bump-and-run pitching wedge that ended 5 feet from the hole.

Made the 5-footer for a double-bogey on a really hard hole.

So far, everything had proceeded according to plan.

Hole 13

Hole 13 is a shorter par 3 and much more downhill than Hole 11. I hit 9 iron again, apparently afraid of going super long and hit the ball perfectly. I hit it exactly at the spot I was aiming for, which was, unfortunately, short of the sand trap guarding the green.

My buddy Justin hit the green and his ball was inline with mine. Unfortunately, I didn’t ask him to mark his ball – and putted it  right into this ball. That killed my putt and left me 30 feet from the pin.

I really felt good about that chip too. Annoyed, I managed to get my lag putt short – and then I missed the short putt and finally got the double-bogey conceded by Justin’s father, who had looked on me with pity.

I really let Justin know about this failure to help me out. Fortunately, he’s a good-natured good friend, and gave me just as good as I gave him. After all, he asked if I wanted him to mark his ball and I said no because I am dumb.

Hole 14 

Hole 14 is the signature hole for the course. A par 4, with a huge drop off. At about 200 yards, a large bunker guards a water hazard that collects any balls 240 yards or shorter.

Not about to be a fool, I hit my 8 iron into the fairway, about 150 yards, well short of the bunker.

I also hit a just for fun 3 wood with the intention of putting it in the water. I ended up about 4 yards short and left of the water, a 220 yard shot. Gosh I wish I’d decided to do that off the tee. Next time, it’ll be a 6 iron (likely into the bunker).

Syked at my good fortune, I chunked my 8 iron from the fairway to the fringe of the bunker.

Dejectedly, I walked up to the absolutely terrible lie on the lip of the bunker. Unfortunately, the ball wasn’t in the bunker, which would have been a better lie.

As it was, I shanked the ball out of the bunker, over the water, leaving me about 50 yards from the hole for shot 4.

Remembering my mistake on hole 12, I decided to pitch with a pitching wedge. I don’t know what it was, but … it was a terrible stroke. It barely got to the fringe of the green.

I was so frustrated at myself. Why? I don’t know. I just had expectations that prudence would pay off and … it wasn’t really paying off. Prudence only has value when it leads to success.

Anyway, I had 12 yards to the pin and consoled myself that at least I could putt it on. Maybe make the lag putt for a double bogey?

I’ve used this conceit before and don’t tend to do it consciously. When I do it consciously, it doesn’t seem to work…

Anyway, I putted it in from off the green for a bogey the hard way. I really need to find a way to consciously not try to make it for these long putts… So that I can make them.

Hole 15 is another par 5, but much shorter than the other par 5s.

I decided to hit 3 wood off the tee and hit a good one: 180 yards, down the right side of the fairway. Naturally, I was aiming to the other side of the fairway, but it was a good result.

At this point, I considered hitting 3 wood, but there was water hazard to the right. So I hit a great 8 iron toward the middle of the fairway.

I then hit a 7 iron from about 150 yards from the green. 7 iron is striking distance for my 7 iron. Unfortunately, I think it was at this point that I began to play John Foulk’s ball. That or he played mine before I could find it.

I was short of the green, apparently drawing it short and left. Yes, I was aware that I’d had a chance to get my first GIR of the round on a par 5. It didn’t happen but I was certainly a puttable ball from the fairway.

Unfortunately, I left my chip a little two long to allow for an up-and-down par. But I was able to two-putt a bogey. That felt good, even though I got ball jacked at some point in the hole.

Hole 16

This is a dog-leg left par 4 that is protected long by a water hazard and trees left of the dogleg and by wide expanses of green grass to the right. I mean, there’s also a creek but you’d have to be a real jerk to hit over there.

After remarking that it’d be great to it a draw on this hole, I went and did exactly that with my 6 iron. Unfortunately, I’d been aiming, expecting a straight to fade shot, so I was in the rough left of the cart path, with trees guarding my approach to the green. I had about 200 yards to the pin but I was going to worry about that when the time came.

I then managed to hit two 7 irons in rapid succession into the trees in front of me. One 7 iron went 66 yards. The other went 94 yards, leaving me with 60 yards to the pin.

With 60 yards to the pin, I hit an absolutely excellent lob wedge to leave myself about 4 feet to the pin. I promptly, promptly, missed that putt and gave myself a double-bogey.

Sigh. But that was a great lob-wedge shot.

Also, hilariously, hitting the tree with my 7 iron really screwed Arcoss up with my 7 iron distances.

Hole 17

Hole 17 is a long par 3, about 170 yards. Still counting on a fade, I aimed at the left side of the green and hit an excellent 6 iron … right into the tree that guards the front left approach to the green.

It was after this shot that my playing partners informed me that the tree guards a small lake. So hitting the tree may have been fortunate – although I think it just prevented me from reaching the green.

I had originally thought they were reacting in awe at my great shot.

Anyway, i was another 56 yards from the pin. I hit lob wedge to 3 yards out. Unfortunately, I 3-putted. Again, I blame Justin: he had played an excellent tee shot short of the green and nearly holed his second shot for birdie. So I tried to the same with my par-putt and … well, it failed miserably. I missed to 7 feet long, and then putted it back to a tap-in distance.

Double-bogey.

Hole 18 is another par 5. At this point, I had resigned to being over 100 but I was having fun. I was hitting some good shots but seemed to never have everything go right.

This happened according to the law of averages on hole 18. I hit a 3 wood off the tee, aiming at the left side of the fairway because I expected to hit a blocky fade. Instead, I hooked the 3 wood 165 into hole 10’s fairway.

I then hit my 8 iron into a tree but back into the fairway of hole 18, leaving me some 200 yards from the hole. Since I was already well above 100 in my mind, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to hit 3 wood.

In this case, it did hurt because I hit an excellent 3 wood up the left side of the hole – that drew into an impossible landing area.

I was behind and under a tree. Any low approaching shot was going to be going right into the bunker. Of all the times to hit a draw …

Anyway, I ended up hitting my pitching wedge from underneath the tree toward the front of the green. Fortunately, I was short of the bunker. Unfortunately, I had to carry the bunker.

I did that pretty decently, finally getting on the green and leaving me about 8 yards from the hole.

While John Foulk had just putted in from about 50 yards away off the green, I resisted the urge to mimic his success and just lagged my bogey putt for an easy two-putt double bogey.

So that was an ending 50 which is … a net par and exactly what I had hoped for going into the round. Honestly, it was very pleasantly surprising to make a 50 on a course that I’d never played before. That’s the tied for the second-best I’ve ever scored on a championship course.

Tee shots were a lot better on the back 9. 7 of them were decent shots.

I had 17 approach shots, which wasn’t too bad at all, considering I’d expect to have 13 and was likely to have 15 considering my length off the tee.

My chips were significantly better: I had just 8 chips. Considering I hit no greens the entire round, that was pretty fantastic.

Putting was good too: just 15 putts and only 2 3-putts. It’s pretty easy when you have a chip-in, I suppose.

So what changed for the back 9? Well, while I didn’t have a lot of chances to score, I did avoid catastrophic failure. And, while the front 9 could have easily been 10 strokes fewer, the back 9 could have been better, too:

Hole 13 could have been 1 to 2 strokes better, easily; hole 14 could have been a par if I’d not chunked it into the bunker; same for hole 15. Hole 16 could have been a bogey or a par if I’d hit the fairway. Hole 17 could have also been a par or a bogey if I’d putted better. Finally, hole 18 I could have had more success staying in the fairway, i think.

But that’s golf: it’s easy to see what could have gone better.

According to the Arccos Elite app, I lost most of my strokes driving and on the approach.

Driving was where I lost most strokes, followed by approaches. Somehow, my short game was not as atrocious as I expected (apparently I only lost a half stroke to a 20 handicapper there) – but when you lose 9 strokes off the tee and 6 strokes on approach … well, let me finish this tortured sentence by noting that I shot +39. 15 strokes better would be +24, which’d be … a lot better.

So how do we save 10 strokes for next time?

Well, I’ll do my best to avoid a 9 on hole 8 and a 7 on hole 3. Doubles on each of those holes gives me 5 strokes. From that point, getting up-and-down will likely do the rest.

Maybe a bogey on 1, a double on hole 2, and that’s 8 strokes. 

So it’s driving with the 3 wood 6 iron and working on the short game. But isn’t that what it is for everyone?

Best Shots

  1. Bunker shot on hole 1
  2. 8 iron on hole 2
  3. PW from the sand on hole 4
  4. LW pitch on hole 4
  5. PW from the bunker on hole 5
  6. Lag putt on hole 5
  7. Hole 7 tee shot
  8. Hole 7 second shot through the tree
  9. Hole 7 putt chip to close out some atrocious short play
  10. 6 iron off tee on hole 9
  11. SW pitch on hole 9
  12. 6 iron off tee on hole 10
  13. 6 iron from fairway on hole 10
  14. Second PW on hole 10
  15. 10 yard putt on hole 10
  16. Hole 11 recovery chip to within 1 yard
  17. 3rd stroke 8 iron on hole 12
  18. 4th stroke 8 iron on hole 12
  19. PW chip on hole 12
  20. 9 iron on hole 13 was exactly at the spot I aimed it at
  21. Tee shot on hole 14
  22. Chip in on hole 14
  23. Hole 15’s 3 wood
  24. Hole 15 second shot
  25. Hole 15 third shot
  26. Hole 16 tee shot
  27. Hole 16 7 iron contact on second and third shot
  28. Hole 16 LW to green
  29. Hole 17 LW to green

I’m Not 25 Anymore Or: Arrowood on 12/10

On December 10, Qualcomm gave us all a day off. It was much needed from me: I’ve been working a lot supporting various large-scale events and the day off was very welcome.

Tyrone and I met up to play golf, this time by my house at Arrowood, site of my disgrace 6 weeks before. Fortunately, the round I played on 11/22 had really encouraged me both to take things easy and also to feel confident in myself. I’d also been able to practice 19 times in the intervening 18 days. So that felt really good.

It was an early morning tee time and I was able to get to the range ahead of time, putt a bit, and even hit from the sand. Considering last time I played and hit the sand a lot, this felt wise. After all, I’d had no problems putting from off the green last time I played. The issue was really keeping the ball in play.

My goals for the round were incredibly simplified from the last time.

  • Have fun. Remember this is your leisure time so you’re already doing well.
  • Get it on the green in as few shots as possible.
  • Have a chance at par and convert that chance.
  • Pick a landing spot on each shot and aim at that.
  • Make all putts from within 1.5 yards
  • Bogey on 13, 16, 17.
  • Shoot 107 or better

Note, please the lack of things like birdies or “don’t miss any putts.” We’re trying to be positive here. Honestly, I was going to be happy to just be close to 107, too.

The second good thing (what was the first thing?) was Tyrone, who is a pleasure to play with and a pleasure of a person. He also trekked up from San Diego to play Arrowood. As he said when he arrived, “I thought I’d be here pretty quick when I got off the freeway.” No sir, you will not.

We got paired up with a single player, who was really friendly. His name was Parkier and he was a joy to play with.

So things were already looking really up.

Onto hole 1.

I decided that, since my driver was NOT working very well on the range, I was going to be hitting an iron on this tee.

I was terrified of the lateral hazard on the left side, so I aimed very well right, like off the fairway, and hit a 7 iron.

I overswung and shanked the ball into the hazard.

Despite the request of my compatriots to count it as a breakfast ball, my integrity demanded I refuse. So I hit a 7 iron beautifully to the fairway for shot 3.

(Oh, I should mention that I took my 6 iron from my bag. I was rocking driver, 3 wood, and 7 iron on down).

Shot 4 was another 7 iron that, bizarrely, drew. Since I was expecting a block/fade as a miss, this meant that I was in the fairway, but on the opposite side of the fairway than I expected. This was not too bad, but unexpected.

Nicely, both shots had gone about 150 yards each, leaving me with 40 to the pin or so.

I had practiced the 40y SW shot and ended up pitching it onto the green, a little bit long to the center of the green. That left me 7.5 yards downhill to the pin. I missed well, putting to 1 yard and then making the 1 yarder.

That felt good. It woulda been a bogey without that pesky shank.

Hole 2

Hole 2 is a long, downhill Par 5. I think I have kept the ball in bounds … 1 time. For whatever reason, I always hit driver or 3 wood and always regret it.

This time was no different. I hit my driver off the tee and somehow overswung and hooked it right, along the cart path, into the lateral hazard left. On top of a 6-foot tall retaining wall.

My thought process had been that I generally hit the ball pretty straight and I wasn’t going to overswing. It was downhill so even a top would end up in the fairway and roll out.

Back to the retaining wall: I found about 7 nice balls looking for mine, but mine was nowhere to be found. So I tossed a ball into the fairway, gamely refused Tyrone’s offer of help climbing down and jumped. Onto the cart path. Wearing golf shoes with plastic spikes.

I had my club and my sunglasses in my hand. I broke my fall with my sunglasses, felt my ankle slip and crunch, and then hobbled off the path.

My hand was bleeding from about a half inch scrape where I’d removed all the skin. My glasses were completely broken. And I had rolled my right ankle.

I could walk on it and, limping, I gamely hit my 7 iron from the rough about 157 yards to 157 yards from the hole. My drop, by the way, was 138 yards from the tee box. So that’s a fun feeling: hitting a ball longer with an iron than you did with your driver. Why do I hit that club?

Limping up to my ball, I hit an 8 iron that drew. And considering I was aiming at the left side of the green, I ended up in the rough about 32 yards pin high left.

The shot was over a bunker but a pretty easy LW chip onto the green. A 7 yard putt just stopped a couple rolls from the hole and I was in for a 7, a net par. Although I felt like an idiot: injured my leg, broke my sunglasses, cut my hand.

Next time, I’ll get help. Or just climb down the wall.

Hole 3

Short par 3 that played pretty long on Friday. It was about 140, which is 8 iron distance, especially off the tee.

Really favoring my left leg, I chunked it about 110 yards. I was in the fairway, about 30 yards from the pin. I hobbled up to the ball and pitched it onto the green.

Then I had a terrible putt on the green. I had about 7 yards and putted it very far past on a downhill putt. That left me 1.5 yards out, which I promptly missed and then made for a double bogey. Really great start here.

Hole 4 I hit a 7 iron off the tee directly into the grass bunker through the first cut of fairway. Both my playing partners hit the bunker that collects balls sliding out of the fairway to the right. Here they are looking for their balls.

Tyrone and Parkier search for their balls in the bunker.

Then I hit my 8 iron from the grass bunker and crushed a draw. The ball hit the cart path and bounced to end up pin high, left of the hole, some 40 yards away and up a huge hill. I had hit the 8 iron 157 yards because of the bounces.

But the green was downhill from where I was, heading toward a bunker. It was not a good lie: sidehill, downhill, in the rough.

I was exceptionally scared of the ball running away from me so I failed at goal number 2: get it on the green.

I chipped it about halfway and then chipped it just barely on, leaving me 11 yards to the pin. I made the 11 yard put to about a yard, and then tapped in the 1 yarder for a double bogey. 

I was certainly thinking PAR when I nearly reached the green in regulation. That is not a useful thought to have.

Hole 5

Hole 5 has a huge bunker along the left side that I was going to try to be short of with my tee shot. So I hit 8 iron off the tee and hit a very big fade to the right side of the fairway.

So not exactly where I was expecting to end up but in the fairway. I then I aimed my 7 iron at the left side of the green and hit a frozen rope into the rough left of the green, exactly where I was aiming.

That left me 32 yards out, over the bunker to the green. I chose the path of least resistance and went a little long, over the green and into the rough. Now i’ve learned for next time: short and left is the wrong place to miss.

I was certainly thinking PAR with that 3rd shot.

My ball ran out long into the fringe and into the rough. The rough was really grabbing everything, so I hit a chip shot 9 iron out of the rough. It ended up 1 yard from the hole for an easy bogey.

Hole 6 is the easiest hole on the course, a short par 4 with a water feature left. I aimed at the bunker right and faded a 7 iron over it, where it ran down the back of the hill behind the bunker to the fairway fringe.

I was about 85 yards from the pin, which is an uncomfortable distance for me. I decided to hit sand wedge, since a full wedge is about 80 to 90 yards for me.

Unfortunately, I chunked it. I was 100% thinking birdie on this hole and it cost me. A better play would have been a very easy PW shot to the middle of the green instead of pin seeking.

As it was, and likely because I wasn’t putting much weight on my right ankle, I chunked it, about 45 yards.

Then I missed the second shot short, just on the fringe. It was uphill to the green and it was about 15 yards, which is about a 5 yard bump and run with the pitching wedge. I do practice that shot, so it seemed better than putting.
It was better than putting. The ball stopped a few feet from the hole, and made for an easy bogey.

Hole 7 is a mid-length par 4 that seems to eat my lunch. It’s handicap 16, but I tend to average a triple bogey.

It’s all to do with the scrub cutout right of the tee box, which has a magnet for my ball. But mentally, I fixated on the left side of the fairway and dropped my 7 iron there.

That left me about 140 out which is 7 iron distance. Unfortunately, I faded this 7 iron right into a sand trap around the green. If I had aimed at the left side of the green instead of the center!

But I had an excellent sand shot out and I had just 1.5 yards to the pin. Unfortunately, thinking par, I blasted that 1.5 yard putt past the hole completely, leaving me 2 yards out. But having missed the par putt, I had an excellent, easy, 2 yard bogey putt that I made. I mean, I had already gotten the read when I blew past. But I was also thinking, “well, double bogey is okay.”

Hole 8 was a medium-length par 3. The pin was right and front, which was well within my 8 iron range – except that I chunked the ball into the hazard right. My second shot was on the green, which I finished up for a nice, easy par. Well, except that I had chunked the ball into the hazard.

Hole 9 is a long, uphill par 5. I seem to always screw this one up, too. Last time, I had the ball on a laser guide to the lateral hazard. This time, I hit a great 7 iron into the fairway, a great 7 iron up the fairway, and then a thin, stinger up through the fairway into the rough protecting the green.

I had about a 50 yard shot, so I hit my sand wedge a nice easy pitch. The ball was 2 yards from the pin, inside of both Tyrone and Parkier. They both missed their putts. I didn’t.

Par, baby!

That concluded my best ever front 9. I shot a 50, and it could have been a lot lower. Assuming all my mishits were due to my injury distracting me, I certainly could have had 1 shot fewer on 3 (better putting), 4 (better chipping), 6 (better approach), 7 (better putting). And i could have done 4 shots better if I just took mulligans on 1 and 8. So I could see a 42 is what I’m saying.

Tee shots were okay, with 7 of 11 being good. I had 14 approach shots on 9 chances and only 6 chips, which is all the more impressive because I had 2 double chips.

Putting was also okay: 1 3-putt balanced out by 2 1-putts.

Goal number 1 next time is to not hurt myself while playing. Goal 2 is to replicate this performance, to which I will employ my 6 iron and keep the driver in the bag.

Now begins the back 9, on which I’m some how supposed to shoot a 49 in order to break 100.

I started with the best drive I’ve ever hit. I thought: “let’s hit driver, since it’s wide open and even if I top it, it’ll be into the fairway.” 

I crushed the drive. I’m not sure which tee box I hit from, but I hit it nearly 280 yards; the ball was right at the edge of the fairway.

I then hit a very short, 35 yard pitch shot with my sand wedge, which turned my birdie chance from high to very low, since I was on the green in regulation but … 15 yards from the hole.

But I wanted to lag it close and I lagged it just a yard or so from the hole. Easy make for a par. That’s a two par streak!

The next hole was a shorter par 3, uphill but with the pin front right. I hit an 8 iron at the middle of green only for it to fade right and off the green.

I had about 15 yards to go, uphill, over some rough. So I chipped my pitching wedge to 6 inches from the hole – another up and down par.

That’s 3 pars in a row.

Hole 12 is a hard hole. I average an 8.

So this time, I hit a 7 iron well to the middle of the fairway. I then choked up my pitching wedge and chunked it to about 146 out from the green.

I tried to learn from my mistakes and lined up on the left side of the green – and then hit a perfect 7 iron, right into the rough, right where I was aiming.

That left me 50 yards away from the green, pin high, on a severe downhill lie. For whatever reason, I was really concerned with landing my ball right next to the pin instead of aiming to the middle of the green.

I missed it halfway down the hill and then chipped it on. I had a 7 yard putt that I missed really poorly to 1.5 yards. Then I missed the 1.5 yard putt and finally made it … for an 8. Blargh.

Hole 13 is a par 5 that I’ve historically done poorly on. I hit driver off the tee because the tee box was RIGHT there next to the fairway

I topped the driver, into the fairway. Then I topped my 3 wood, also in the fairway. Total, my two tops went about 291 yards total, which isn’t too bad. I mean, it’s not good, either.

I then thought it would be a good idea to lay up since I had about 190 yards and didn’t have a club that could get me there.

So I hit my pitching wedge, chunked it 90 yards, thinking par the whole time.

So I reset after thinking par, and thought “double bogey is great”. Then I hit my full pitching wedge, from 100 yards out. And I hit that full pitching wedge 113 yards, which was over the back pin position into the rough.

I had 14 yards, tried to chip it with my sand wedge, and made it 7 yards. Then I made another 7 yard chip leaving me a not good 4 yards from the pin.

Missed the 4 yard putt, made the second putt, and recorded another 8.

That was depressing.

Hole 14 was a hole similar to Hole 13, but it’s downhill where hole 13 is uphill. But the tee box was RIGHT THERE on the fairway, again, so I hit driver.

Driver went about 210 with a slight draw, leaving me 120 yards from a front pin.

That’s about 9 iron distance, so I swung with the 9 iron and hit a thin fade.

Again, 9 iron was a bad choice, since it put me right on the fringe. An 8 iron would have been better. Middle of the green and all that.

As it was, my ball was just 10 yards from the pin, but going uphill over some rough. It was a sidehill lie and my ball was certainly embedded. I certainly should have availed myself of that rule. As it was, the lie cost me a stroke, since I was just able to move the ball a few yards, further up in the rough.

I hit lob wedge on, to 3 yards out – and then I missed that putt to make a 1 yard putt. I had the idea of “I am trying to make it” and paid the price. A 6.

Onto the Quandary, the hard finishing 4. I didn’t realize it, but despite my back to back 8s, I was on an unknown trajectory: I had 79 strokes through hole 14. This was despite two 8s on the back 9.

Hole 15 is the easiest of the finishing 4 holes: a par 3 that’s well bunkered but not too long. Today was the longest it’s ever been when I’ve played it about 150 yards. So that was a 7 iron, which I blasted through the green to 15 yards away from the hole.

The problem is that it’s a two tier green and I was on the upper tier – well, really I was on the fringe.

So it was a long putt that I had no chance of making. I also really didn’t want to try a chip because of the potential for it to run away from me.

So I putted from the fringe, down the hill, to about 5 yards long – which was pretty good. I putted it to within a yard and then made it for a bogey. So now it’s 83 through 15. I really wish I had known that.

Now starts hole 16, where the best I’ve ever done is a 6. The island green tends to collect lots of balls … in the drink around it.

I hit driver off the tee and that was stupid: this is a hole that demands care. And considering I had matched a record pace, I should have been more conservative.

I blocked my driver out right, where it might be in play, and hit a provisional driver that got over the hazard guarding the fairway. It was clearly in play, but I managed to find my driver shot in a bush on the edge of the hazard.

I had no shot and should have dropped. Instead, I chunked my punch shot about 15 yards, at least into the rough. Honestly, I probably could have done better with my putter onto the cart path.

I then lined up an easy, choked up pitching wedge to stay short of the water – and I chunked that one too. At this point, I was feeling pretty defeated: I expected the water to eat a ball, and my leg was hurting.

I was about 150 yards from the pin, so I hit my 7 iron, figuring I would likely cover the water, even with a fat shot. It was a draw, but it carried the distance and ran off the green into the rough.

I mean, it would have been worse to miss into the water but it was a tough miss. I had a long distance to go, downhill, to get to the pin. So I chipped it with my 9 iron which was a little bit too much club. The ball ran off the green.

This one hurt: I was on the fringe, so I putted it. Somehow, the green was exceptionally quick, even though i was putting uphill, and I putted the ball 4 yards too long – with the ball running over the hole. Ugh.

Instead of a heroic 6, it was an 8, because it took me two more putts to get in the hole from there. Still, a 91 through 16. That means a par and a bogey for a 100 or two double bogeys for a new course record 103.

Now starts hole 17, which has lately been my meltdown hole. This time, I hit a 7 iron off the tee and INTO the fairway. Then I hit another 7 iron down the fairway, leaving me 65 yards from the hole.

Tyrone’s Second Shot

And wouldn’t you know it, I overswung and chunked my lob wedge from a good lie in the fairway to a bad lie in the rough. It was very uphill, I was in pain, and I hit an easy, bad lob wedge to about 3 quarter of the way closer.

Finally, I chopped (pls note spelling) on with my sand wedge, leaving 5 yards. I putted it real close, and then tapped in for a 7.

We had an audience for hole 18 and the hole was set at the silver tees. So I hit driver, and topped it 40 yards into the rough. Then I hit another provisional ball off the tee into the driving range.

Falling apart, I strolled forward and hit my driver at the ball in the rough, which went all of 40 yards, still not in the fairway.

I came to my senses, hit a 7 iron and left myself about 150 yards from the pin. Unfortunately, I chunked this one into the water hazard. I dropped and chunked another into the water hazard. Then I finally hit over the hazard, onto the rough, 30 yards from the pin, behind a bunker.

I had tears in my eyes as I approached this shot. My leg was really hurting, I had completely fallen apart.

It was just an lokay lob wedge shot to get it onto the green, since it left me 25 feet from the pin. (EDIT: it was great. I was on the green). But the putt looked pretty straight – and that’s how I made a 25-foot putt to save a 10. Hooray! I guess…

The pain in my ankle was much worse in the second 9. 

I shot a 58 which was all the more depressing since I had an 83 through hole 15. I could have done so much better. I’ll blame my failure on being hurt.

I had 7 decent tee shots and really only 1 that didn’t play (hole 18). I hit 5 fairways on 8 chances, and started with two pars. I had 18 approach shots, but fully 11 of them were on the last 3 holes. 12 chips, which included 3 straight double chips.

I had 17 putts, with 2 1-putts to offset a 3-putt. 

So it was a depressing 58 on the back 9. But I was hurt, so what else could I expect? Incidentally, after the round, I didn’t notice what I usually do after a full round: my right leg and butt are sore. Nope, that was not the way this time. My ankle was very sore.

But shooting 108, injured, is much better than shooting 120, uninjured.

Best shots were:

  1. 2nd tee shot on hole 1
  2. Approach shot on hole 1
  3. SW pitch on hole 1
  4. Putt 1 on hole 1
  5. Putt 2 on hole 1
  6. 7 iron approach on hole 2
  7. LW on hole 2
  8. 1st putt on hole 2
  9. 2nd putt on hole 2
  10. SW pitch on hole 3
  11. Lucky 8 iron on hole 4
  12. Putt 1 on hole 4
  13. 9 iron chip on hole 5
  14. PW chip on hole 6
  15. Hole 7 tee shot
  16. Hole 7 sand shot
  17. Hole 8 second tee shot
  18. Hole 8 putt 1
  19. Hole 8 putt 2
  20. Hole 9 tee shot
  21. Hole 9 second shot
  22. Hole 9 SW
  23. Hole 9 putt

That’s 23 good shots through 9 holes! That’s excellent!

  1. Driver on hole 10
  2. Approach on hole 10
  3. Putt on hole 10
  4. Chip on hole 11
  5. Tee shot on hole 12
  6. Third shot on hole 12
  7. Driver on hole 14
  8. 7 iron on hole 15
  9. Approach shot on hole 16
  10. Tee shot on hole 17
  11. Second shot on hole 17
  12. 1st putt on hole 17
  13. Third shot 7 iron on 18
  14. SW over the water on 18
  15. LW over the bunker on 18
  16. Putt on hole 18

And that’s grasping at straws on back 9.

Looking back on this, I am exceptionally proud. On a bum ankle, I shot really well. Before I hurt myself, I was +5 (triple bogey, LH shot OB). After hurting my ankle, I was +9 on 7 holes – and then playing bogey golf for 9 holes through hole 11.

I am significantly more encouraged by this than I was at the time, which was 100% because I had really hurt myself. I am all better now but, man, what coulda been…

Emerald Isle on 11/22

So I had a rough couple of rounds in October. At Emerald Isle on the 17th, I had a 91 with 47 putts. And then, at Arrowood on the 24th, I had another set back: a +49 round, where I managed to lose 11 balls and hit 5 hazards.

So I went with my eldest daughter to Emerald Isle, the site of my greatest round of all time. We went together, on a Monday morning, because she had the day off school and my younger daughter had preschool.

First we went to the driving range and I warmed up, okay. She also warmed up, as best she could. Then we putted around, waiting for our tee time. She went back to the cart to eat snacks while I finished warming up.

I had goals but they weren’t particularly set in my mind ahead of time:

  • Don’t overswing
  • Have fun
  • Don’t triple bogey
  • Have fun
  • Make a birdie
  • Don’t screw up hole 1

Hole 1 is a par 4 that I always seem to screw up. Double bogey is what I tend to score here. So this time, I decided I would take it easy. Even though it’s 150 yards, i was going to hit pitching wedge off the tee.

Despite the warm up, I shanked the first ball, right into the net. Then my daughter, for whom I’d paid a greens fee, hit the ball nearly as far as I did. She’s six.

But no matter, I was brave and I remember thinking — it could be worse. I mean, at least i was on the fairway — well fairway dirt — and on the right fairway.

So I had about 40 yards out? I’m not sure how far it was but I hit a pretty good pitch shot with my pitching wedge that landed on the green and rolled, just staying on the green. A good lag putt led to an easy tap in for bogey, which was a great result.

Hole 2 is an easy hole: a very, very short par 4 that’d be a par 3 on a normal course. I was tempted to hit 3 wood off the tee, but I decided to be wise and hit 8 iron.

Dear reader, i crushed that 8 iron: I hit it so well that I thought I had, perhaps, hit it into the sand trap that runs along the left side of the green, 165 yards away.

Instead, I found my ball sitting pretty in the fairway, about 25 yards from the hole. I hit a beautiful sand wedge to 1.5 yards out and promptly, PROMPTLY, missed the putt. So that’s a 4 for a par and a very depressing one at that.

I never thought I’d be depressed by par but there you go.

Hole 3 is a beast. My daughter didn’t want to play it and today it was playing short.

I don’t remember what club I hit but I ended up hitting it a little fat and a little short. I cleared the water, got a good bounce on the dirt, and then the ball rolled back down into the grass before the water hazard.

And then the murders began I started chipping poorly: well, I didn’t chip poorly — I chipped stupidly. Instead of getting it on the green, I missed about a yard short and the chip rolled back down the hill. I then got the second chip up but off the green, above the hole.

I had a poor downhill chip putt that left me out quite a bit. I was trying for the bogey putt and completely missed the read.

I then putted back up the hill and missed 1 ball left, and an easy in for a 6. Blergh.

Hole 4 is a short hole that narrows pretty heavily. I hit a pitching wedge and I hit it very very far. I hit it on the green but I was maybe 20 yards from the hole.

I then left the 20 yard putt super duper short. My second putt was also long, making up for the short miss, leaving me 3.5 yards out. But then I made the 11-footer for a bogey.

Hole 5 is another narrowing hole, a little longer, with a trap left. The trap is where i was aiming at and i hit a weak fade with my 9 iron. Fortunately, it stayed in bounds and on the fringe/fairway approaching the hole.

I putted it on from the fringe, but it left me about 7 yards out. I was a little short, but made it in for a bogey.

This hole was also one my daughter wanted to play with me. She had a pretty decent shot off the tee, about 50 yards, and then another shot that got her onto the green that left her 5 yards out, on the green. Unfortunately, she rushed her putts and had a 5 — but that’s a big step for her!

I tried not to comment but I don’t think she knew what she was doing. She certainly didn’t know she could get a real par. (from her scoring, she is the best golfer in the world: only pars and birdies).

Hole 6 is one of my better holes.

Since my shots were going long and the hole was playing short, I hit my sand wedge. It was short of the green and, due to the rough, it was not something i thought I could putt.

I hit a 9 iron chip shot and ended up 5 yards long — so a pitching wedge was probably the right club. I was back and forth between a 9 and a PW and I figured longer was better than shorter. I putted the 5 yarder decently close and then made it for a bogey.

Hole 7 is longer and the only hole where someone could hit a long iron or a wood. I was tempted by my 3 wood but I didn’t want to make a terrible choice. So I hit a 7 iron, okay, around 155 yards. It faded slightly, as my 7 iron does.

I thought i was in the fairway, but I ran right into the rough. It was pretty thick and this is a hole were going long is bad, so I tried an easy chip 7 iron that got stuck in the rough. It did get into the fairway short of the hole, which meant that I could putt it on.

So I putted it onto the green and then two putted into the hole.

Hole 8 is a tough hole: it’s about 100 yards and has no place to miss long or right. The front has a swale in front and a HUGE bunker guarding the left front. Left is the only miss.

I’ve tended to miss left. This time, I choked up a bit, aimed at a bush behind the green and hit a slightly blocky shot (maybe).

It was the best shot i’ve ever hit in my life. You can see the ball mark and where the ball ended up.

Easiest birdie I’ve ever made, too.

Hole 9 is over a water hazard and I hit a 9 iron since it was about 120 yards to the pin. I hit an excellent 9 iron to the green, leaving me about 5 yards out.

An excellent 5 yard putt left me a 1 yard, downhill putt, which I didn’t take my time with. I was disappointed, naturally, that I missed the birdie train. Again — how can I be disappointed with par? Apparently very easily.

What followed was a very frustrating series of events. I missed the 1 yard putt for par, then a 1 yard putt for bogey. Then a 1 foot putt for double and finally made the 1 footer for triple. Well, I picked it up.

So that’s two triple bogeys to accompany a birdie and a par and a whole mess of bogeys. I was 39 (+10) for the front 9, which is a net 0 score for me. That’s tied for my best score ever on the front 9 and could have been significantly better. Oh well.

But I hit 8 good tee shots, hit 1 fairway, and for greens in regulation. I had 21 putts, but 5(!) of them were on hole 9. Reasonably, I could have easily expected to shoot a 36, which would be a much better score than I’ve ever done before.

I remember feeling relaxed — annoyed at a 5-putt — but relaxed. I was able to laugh about it. I think that’s the effect that my daughter has on me on the golf course. I think. 

Hole 10 has been another challenge. It’s a decent length par 3, over water, with a sand trap guarding the green. It also prompts a wait because a hooked shot hits the teebox for hole 11.

I didn’t really wait on Hole 10, and hit a chunky 8 iron that went about 100 yards when it needed to go 125 yards. But it got over the water and was in some … not too good rough. It was also somewhat short of the sand trap, which meant I could get to the green.

Unfortunately, I hit the chip shot a little thig, but it got onto the green and stopped onto the fringe.

But I completely unfocused on the chip putt. It ran out long from about 7 yards to about 10 yards. I really should have hit it a bit softer because I didn’t have a chance to make the chip putt. I should have been happy with a bogey and instead I had a double when I putted my 10 yard putt up and then putted in.

Fortunately, I was playing decently. I managed to turn a bogey opportunity to a double-bogey but that’s not too bad.

Hole 11 is pretty short. I hit my sand wedge pretty thing which was a little scary, since there’s no depth to the hole and anything long is bad to hit.

But I was on the fringe, again about 20 yards from the hole. I putted the ball quite a bit short, then putted the 7 yard putt to 1 yard, and then made it for a bogey.

Here’s one were I think a good chip would have saved me a stroke, possible. 5 yard chip with a pitching wedge would probably get me there. I need to practice that one, i think.

Hole 12 was completely unremarkable. Excellent tee shot to about 115 yards, pin high but a little below the hole. Great lag putt and easy in for a par. That’s what I like to see.

Hole 13 is a short, tough hole. About 100 yards if the pin is in the back and about 75 yards if the pin is the front. I hit sand wedge and was, unfortunately, short. Trust me, I looked for the ball out of the sand trap and could not find it. Then my daughter helpfully said: “Daddy, your ball is in the beach!”

It was a pretty good strike, I thought, but i think I took too much off the swing, since the ball went about 70 yards.

Fortunately, I got out in one stroke, but left myself about 15 yards to the pin. I missed the putt off the green, just barely, putted back on from the fringe to about 6 inches, and in for a double bogey.

Hole 14 I tend to hit out of bounds. It was playing short today, about 125 yards, so out came my 9 iron. Unfortunately, I hit my 9 iron a little blocky, so instead of the center of the green, the ball did it’s best to get out of bounds. However, I had course-managed wisely, hitting a club that could never get out of bounds. Woo hoo!

I had a putt out of the rough, but the ball was resting comfortably on the grass. I think I had finally figured out the 20 yards putt and finally, finally, had a good chip to 1 yard out. Made the up and down for par.

Hole 15 is back over the water. It was playing about 140 yards but I decided to hit 8 iron. A 7 iron was probably a better short, especially since I aimed at the tree left of the green. Since my 7 iron fades, it would have been in the center of the green.

Instead, I drew my 8 iron slightly, right into the tree.

I knew it hit the tree because I heard it, but the tree was a decent miss. After all, the hole was playing rear and left, right next to the tree.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my ball.

I was going to avail myself of the water hazard (and sadly commit to losing a ball), when I spotted my ball in the rough, very short of the green. I think the 8 iron caromed off the tree into the rough.

So i hit a not very good pitching wedge chip to the green. I say it was not very good because while it got to the green, it went about half the distance I was expecting.

However, I had a good lag putt to leave me an easy bogey.

Hole 16 is my daughter’s favorite hole, because it has some steep teeboxes with retaining walls. She loves to jump from the retaining wall onto the white tees, flapping her arms like a bird’s wings. While we were waiting, she got to flap her wings quite a bit.

I hit an excellent 9 iron to the green, maybe 15 feet from the hole. I had a good lag putt to leave a 1 yard putt, which I promptly missed 😐 I just didn’t have the feeling I was going to make it. I should have waved off the putt and taken my time, I think.

Hole 17 is a short hole but has the potential to be beastly.

I hit my sand wedge and faded it into the trees that protect the driving range. The ball landed short into the rough and it was not a good roll for my putter.

I hit a bad chip shot, leaving me tons of green. As was my theme, I had a good lag putt, then missed the easy 1-yarder, then made it. Another 3 putt 😦

Finally, hole 18. I had lost all hope of breaking my record due to my atrocious putting, but I still wanted to finish strong. And I did, with an excellent SW to the green, and excellent lag putt, and a tap in par.

Overall, I shot +9 on the back 9, with three doubles, three bogeys, and three pars for another net even par. I hit 3 greens, which meant I actually hit the most greens I’d ever hit in a round with 7. If I had been able to make short putts, I would have cut three shots. So that’d be a 35 putt round.

But overally, I was really pleased with my full swings: on the back 9 I didn’t have any terrible full swings.

+19 is one of my better rounds, especially so because I didn’t lose a ball on a course where it’s easy to lose one. I had several chances at birdie and managed to convert one. And even the 5-putt hole 9 didn’t sting too much, even at the time.

Best shots were pretty numerous too:

  1. Pitch on hole 1 – great way to reset
  2. Lag putt on hole 1
  3. Tee shot on hole 2
  4. SW pitch on hole 2
  5. First putt on hole 3
  6. Tee shot on hole 4
  7. Bogey save on hole 4
  8. 7 iron off the tee on hole 7
  9. Tee shot on hole 8
  10. Putt on hole 8
  11. Tee shot on hole 9
  12. Lag putt on hole 9
  13. Tee shot on hole 12
  14. Lag putt on hole 12
  15. Putt chip on hole 13
  16. Putt chip on hole 14
  17. Lag putt on hole 15
  18. Tee shot on hole 16
  19. Lag putt on hole 16
  20. Tee shot on hole 18
  21. Lag putt on hole 18

So that’s 21 really good shots, which compares favorably with arrowood. The real issue is that my misses at EI were significantly better than at Arrowood. When I missed, I missed close enough that I was in a decent position to not explode.

But I think that’s because EI is an easier course than Arrowood.

Arrowood 10/22/21

So I decided to take a day off and play golf. However, because I am foolish, I decided that I also needed to go play golf and get my haircut on the same day. Plus I needed to get my haircut before my tee time so I would be feeling rushed and looking fresh.

Oh, and I was invited to two in-person team meetings at the last minute, causing angst in my plan to take the day off.

But it was Friday morning, I was screaming toward the golf course and made it there with 45 minutes to go before my 1020 am tee time with my friend Jimmy. Jimmy is a scratch golfer and I’ve never played a full course with him.

I was able to warm up putting, chipping, sand play, and at the range. I was unwise at the range, which is typically what happens when I hit off mats. At least this time, I put a towel behind my ball to ensure I wasn’t hitting it fat… at least not that much.

My horrifying round at Emerald Isle the previous week was still on my mind grapes. I was really concerned about putting. Last time I played this course, I hit the ball well off the tee*, but had 42 putts.

* For an acceptable value of well; looking at my stats, that is not what happened.

I had, perhaps, too many goals for the round:

  • Have fun. Remember this is your leisure time so you’re already doing well.
  • Shoot 107 or better
  • Have a chance at Par on a Par 5
  • Get it on the green.
  • Bogey is a good score on 13.
  • Avoid the water on 16.
  • No net double bogies.
  • No three putts
  • If you can, putt. If you can’t putt, chip. If you can’t chip, pitch.
  • DON’T CHECK YOUR SCORE UNTIL THE END OF THE ROUND!

I also had the unwritten goal of not having more than 36 putts. I also managed to pray with Jimmy before the round: that I would break 100 and that James would break 70. I say that with no irony; Jimmy is a Christian and the prayer was also more along the line of “Let’s have fun together doing this thing, but also maybe this result?”

It was a bit tongue-in-cheek.

Also also unwritten rule was that I’d take no practice swings. Just go up there and hit it since practice swings sometimes lead to overswinging and not committing.

Hole 1

I have always butchered hole 1 on this course. I could aim onto hole 10’s fairway and I’d still manage to hit the lateral hazard on hole 1 that runs along the right side (hole 10’s fairway runs left).

This time, I decided to hit 6 iron off the tee to give me some extra distance. Naturally, I top-hooked my 6 iron NOT INTO THE LATERAL HAZARD but rather onto hole 10’s fairway.

The other two folks we were playing with were elderly. James played from the silver tees (honestly, he could have played from the tips) and they joined him. I think one got off the tee successfully and the other had four or five shots to get out of that lateral hazard that always claims my first ball.

But no, my ball was in the fairway … on hole 10.

The shot was about 150 yards, which is okay for a 6 iron, and very good for a low hook. Unfortunately, I was behind some trees and a hill guarding my approach to the green. Looking at the onboard GPS, I saw that I should hit over the tree in front of me to be short of the green.

I hit my pitching wedge absolutely beautifully and found my ball in the fairway, 73 yards from the hole.

That’s an uncomfortable distance for me but the front of the green was about 60 yards away and the back was at 90. So that meant I could hit my LW and even if I skulled it, it’d be on the green.

Naturally, I hit it full, beautiful and about 80 yards. So it was on the green, 7 yards above the hole. Was I thinking par? You bet your ass.

Was I thinking about breaking 80, much less 100. Oh, of course.

But I putted it close, restraining myself, and knocked it in for a bogey, or a net birdie in my book. That was also the best I’ve ever done on that hole.

Hole 2 is a downhill par 5, with trouble left (OB) and right (LH) but it’s pretty wide: 80 yards at the narrowest point.

I learned nothing from my warm up on the range, nor from my previous hand position requirements for the 3 wood (I need to have the clubhead slightly closed so ensure it doesn’t slice at impact).

I had good contact and sliced the 3 wood into the lateral hazard, short of a bunker about 240 yards out.

However, it’s a lateral hazard so the ball gets dropped. Hooray!

I dropped 3, grabbed my 8 iron, and blasted a shot from the rough, with the ball below my feet, 151 yards, into the fairway, leaving me 164 yards out. It even drew a bit. How strange!

Well, if my 8 iron from the rough goes 151, then my 7 iron can go 164, right? And if I miss short,that’s no biggie. And it’d have to go like, 180 to get OB. Or push it right, but … well, that’s my miss.

I made an unwise shot choice: I didn’t have a lot of room to work with in my traditional miss, which is a fade. It’s a straightaway par 5, but I had gone pretty far left with 8 iron shot. 

There wasn’t a safe enough miss with bunkers long and left and LH right. 7 iron would put me squarely in those danger zones.

So the safe shot here was a 9 iron to be well short of the bunkers and OB and then a pitch or chip on.

But I was on shot 4, going for the green, and feeling confident. So hit my 7 iron every bit of 164 and every bit of 28 yards fading right.

The ball hit right of the green, where there is about 10 yards of grass at the widest point. I saw the ball bounce down the right side of the rough and into the red-staked hazard.

I was able to find the ball. But my relief would have been onto the cartpath or behind a bunker so i played from the hardpan next to the hazard. That was a mistake.

I had 28 yards to the pin and 43 yards to the bunker — and promptly skulled my sand wedge into that bunker behind the green. I mean, golf on not grass is hard and all that. My club bounced off the ground. It was what I could from the lie I had.

So that was also a mistake: I should have taken relief into the grass behind the bunker.

Bunker was deep. The ball had to go up about 2 yards and then stop, because otherwise it would roll away down the green.

I hit a great shot than ran out to about 2 yards. I tried to score with a 2 yard putt, missed long to 1.5 yards and then made it for a net double-bogey.

Honestly, I don’t really know how you do better than a 9 when you lose two balls and hit a sand trap. I mean, I think the best I could have done was … a 7 if I’d hit the green instead of the sand trap.

So I was net +1 on the day.

All the par 3s were playing short this day, so hole 3 was a short one.

I decided that, since the hole was uphill but shorter, I’d use a 9 iron instead of a pitching wedge. I should have hit pitching wedge because my 9 iron went straight as a rope and 21 yards long of the green, left into the rough.

So I couldn’t really putt from that position: the ball would have roll over about 10 yards of rough. So it was a downhill chip shot with my SW that needed to go 21 yards to hit the hole and went 14, onto the green.

I had a 7 yard downhill putt that I missed long. Again, I was trying to score. I missed 2 yards long which was unfortunately a tough miss. I left the 2 yard putt out (don’t know what that means) and finally made it for a 3-putted double bogey, net bogey.

Oh no! Have my putting woes returned?

On Hole 4, I hit a thin 6 iron off the tee just through the fairway, into the rough short of the grass bunker, about 145 yards. That left me 212 yards to the pin, which i played conservative: I split the difference, hitting my pitching wedge beautifully about 113 yards, leaving me 100 yards to the pin.

100 yards was another pitching wedge, which I hit well again but 114 yards. The ball ran off the green to about … 18 yards long of the pin. 

This time, I could putt so I did: I missed 3 yards long on a 15 yard putt, which was okay. Missed the 3 yard putt to 4 inches and tapped in for a net par.

One thing I had noticed was that I was following through very well on my long shots. I think that was leading to the crisp iron contact and the extra distance from the range and my mishits. I really hadn’t had any bad contact. I felt really confident.

This lead to hole 5. Hole 5 is a fairly simple par 4 that doglegs around a huge bunker left.

I was feeling confident so I hit my 3 wood. Why I did I do this? Well, it’s because it’s pretty wide open.

Unfortunately, I didn’t aim where i should have aimed: right at that bunker left. I also didn’t close my clubface on address, which lead to a huge slice that ran throught he fairway and into the hazard.

Fortunately, I could find my ball, propped up on a stick in the hazard. I played it from the stick, a punch shot 8 iron that went 114 yards, leaving me about 50 to the pin, but behind the sand trap that defends the front left of the green.

I also made another judgment call here. I was afraid of the bunker so I should have gone around: chipped right or left aroundthe bunker and then putted on.

Instead, I chipped a 20 yard carry about 17 yards, right into the bunker. It was a mirror of the shot on hole 2 and I had a mirror play: my 13 yard sand wedge shot ended up dying on the fringe.

My putt from the fringe for an epic bogey save ended up dying just a few inches short of the hole. Easy tap in for a net bogey, despite a LH location.

Hole 7 has replaced a bunker left with a water hazard. I figured I had about 170 to the water hazard, so I hit 8 iron.

Once again, I flushed it. When I arrived, I had hit it through the fairway, 161 yards. After flexing a whole bunch, I realized I had to carry 50 yards over water. So I selected and hit my PW easy, which hit the exact spot I was aiming for. Unfortunately, it ran a little long, off the green.

However, I was able to have a birdie putt from the fringe, which was really good and ran to 1 yard.

I missed that 1 yard putt and then made a 1-yarder coming back for bogey, or a net par.

That was a tough one to two-putt.

Going into hole 7, I was playing pretty well. I had a few bad shots, but no bad contact. That changed hole 7: I shanked my tee shot 6 iron into the lateral hazard.

I dropped 3 and then hit a really good 9 iron, wth the ball below my feet, that hooked (how?) into the lateral hazard on the other side of the fairway. There was a green patch of super rough in the hazard — guess where i hit it and lost my ball. You got it it.

So I dropped in the rough, and I was about 164 yards from the hole. So i hit my 7 iron — certainly took something off — and ended up 46 yards from the hole.

I hit my SW pitch shot and the ball ran off the green to the fringe long. I had 12.5 yards to get up and down for a net bogey and chipped to a knee-knocking 1.5 yards. But I made the 1.5 yarder for a 7 — a 7 doesn’t feel too bad for hitting 2 hazards and losing 2 balls.

Hole 8 I had my second bad contact for the round: a fairly chunky 9 iron. I don’t think I followed through correctly here, actually, because a chunky 9 iron that goes 100 yards is not that chunky.

True, the ball needed to go 140, apparently, so I don’t know why I was hitting 9 iron here. Should have been an 8 iron or even a 7 iron, since the destination was uphill.

So i had 40 yards to go to the pin and i topped my pitching wedge. At least the chip shot got up the hill, to the fringe.

I had one of the best putts of the round for my 3rd shot: i hit it from 22 yards out to 1 yard out. Then I had a super-breaker for a 1 yard putt and made it for another 5.

That’s another net bogey. 😦

Hole 9 is a beastly par 5 (484 from the golds) but it is uphill. My plan was to hit 7 irons up to the green, since the uphill probably adds about 50 yards. Somehow I managed to bogey this once before, but I have no idea how that happened.

3 wood off the tee woud have been an option, but I lacked confidence. Instead, I hit my 7 iron really well, about 140 yards (but uphill like 20 yards or so) through the fairway.

I was feeling confident and swung out of my shoes at the 7 iron, instead of smooth and full swing. I chunked shot 2 14 yards, still in the rough.

I think hit my 7 iron thin from the fairway, 149 yards. So I was about 130 out, sitting shot 4, and I hit a draw 8 iron toward the one piece of rough grass in the lateral hazard left.

Honestly, this was laughable. The one area in the hazard where I’m guaranteed not to find my ball, I hit it. Except I found my ball but it was completely unplayable in the bush.

Sigh. I don’t know what happened here, other than maybe aiming wrong?

I had 60 yards from fluffy rough and I hit my SW a little long.

As I write about it, I think this hole was the one that really hurt. I struggled, recovered decently, and hozed myself.

I missed my chip to 3.5 yard long. And just when I was resigned to another 9, I managed to make the 3.5 yard putt for a net bogey.

THis was where the front 9 started and where I failed at goal # DON’T CHECK YOUR SCORE. I calculated my score, saw that I was at 57, and deflated.

My best scoring I would make 42 to end the back 9. But that was unlikely.

But never check your score.

My contact on the front 9 was great: I had 4 bad contact strikes of 57 strokes. I lost 5 strokes to penalties and missed 4 putts of under 2 yards — and 2 were 2 yard putts.

So that’s a very conceivable 7 strokes I could have gained by keeping the ball on the course and making the short putts. Imagine how much better I could do by getting lucky!

I also had the issue where my contact was so good that I didn’t know how far the ball was going — of course, this was because i was following through well. I stopped doing that starting hole 8 — I remember not having that feel going forward.

Hole 10, we got delayed a bit by lunch. We had an audience on the tee from the group behind us, and I had talking in my backswing. I should have hit 3 wood here: there was 0 chance of me losing it, but I was chagrined from earlier.

So I topped by 6 iron off the tee, about 85 yards and into the rough. Then I chunked my 7 iron 120 yards into the fairway, leaving me 110 from the pin.

I hit a great pitching wedge that I completely lost in the air and, since the foursome was breathing down our necks, I hit a provisional that … was perfect and on the green.

Then I found my first ball, in the rough of the grass bunker that borders the green. In play, but a tough distance, about 40 yards.

I had a good LW from the rough but it ran out long, leaving me 20 yards away on the green.

I had a great 20 yard putt, with perfect distance control, on the downhill putt; just misread the break and it ran out 3 yards right.

I knew it was a brutal breaker so I putted it close, if short, and then tapped in for a net bogey (triple bogey).

So, the back 9 was not starting well.

Hole 11 is an uphill par 3 that was playing very far up because of the course maintenance. I figured that missing long was fine, so I hit 7 iron and flushed it on a line right at the pin. But it was too much club, about 10 yards long.

I putted it from off the green to leave 1.5 yards on a downhill putt — which I promptly missed long, costing me another par and leaving a knee knocking 1-yarder for bogey. Still a net par though.

Hole 12 is a beast. It is long, level, and there’s a lateral hazard that guards the end of the fairway on the right.

I hit 7 iron off the tee, beautiful contact about 167 yards. Then I hit a great lob wedge to the end of the fairway. My goal was to hit a 9 iron over the LH to the center of the green.

Instead, I overswung and chunked the 9 iron into the rough, just short of the lateral hazard.

Then I chunked my pitching wedge OVER the lateral hazard. I found my ball and pitched onto the green, 7 yards from the pin with my sand wedge. And then I putted it to 1.5 yards and made a short putt for another … 7.

The freaking chunks, dude. That really made my confidence go down.

Hole 13 is a par 5 that, for whatever reason, I consistently screw up. This time, I screwed up in new and different ways.

I hit 3 wood, because I figured there was little downside. I aimed far left, and blocked the ball directly into a bunker 190 yards right of the tee.

This bunker had a tree guarding the left exit to the fairway and a HUGE lip to guard the ball getting out. It was a good lie and I cranked my sand wedge, a perfect strike, about 100 yards. Just one problem: there was another bunker about 100 yards from this one  that I promptly hit.

I hit another great sand wedge from that bunker and, somehow, despite hitting bunkers twice, I had my fourth shot just 80 yards from the green. 

So, par on my mind, I shanked my pitching wedge. The shank was the worst possible miss on this hole and I watched the ball go out into the lateral hazard.

So i dropped where the ball entered the hazard, which left me 40 yards from the hole. I hit a great LW to about 5 yards — and made a 5 yard putt to save a net par.

Feeling confident after some pretty good contact from tough locations, I managed to top the crap out of the next hole:

Topped a 3 wood into the fairway at least. Then I topped a 7 iron, a 6 iron, and then finally hit a sand wedge long of the green.

I had an excellent putt chip to 1.5 yards from that long sand wedge shot — and promptly missed the 1.5 yard putt.

I gave myself the next putt because I was getting frustrated. A net bogey, sure, but I pared this hole last time!

Hole 15 now, starting the hardest stretch of holes on the course, called the Quandary by the marketing folks. This set of holes has kicked my butt

Hole 15 is the easiest. It’s a par 3, slightly elevated, with a two-tier green. The tees were really short, meaning I had a pitching wedge distance.

It was a good swing, a good ball, and the best shot of the group. I left it short for the birdie, but definitely had a shot. Good par and real good confidence builder.

Hole 16 is the hardest hole on the course. I have made a 13 before, and 11, and a 10. Last time, I had a 6 and I actually under-achieved.

I hit 7 iron off the tee from like 425 yards out. Yeah, it’s a long par 4.

7 iron faded right, about 164 yards, into the fairway. The fade was not a good result. I had a long way to the hole and a long way to the water hazard that protects the green.

It was a blind shot and so I topped it into the lateral hazard along the right side of the hole.

I found the ball but it was unplayable. So that’s a drop into the rough. I hit my lob wedge easy and frighteningly long (about 80 yards) and then I had about 100 yards to the pin.

That’s pitching wedge distance, and I hit my pitching wedge fat and about 75 yards, well into the hazard.

I dropped much closer to the hazard, about 25 yards closer so 75 to the pin, and I absolutely clocked it: I clocked it to about 93 yards, 14 yards long. I missed the 14 yard putt very short, then I missed the 4 yard putt remaining long to about 1.5 yards, then I made it. Nothing like a 3-putt for a 10. 

Hole 17 was next and I had no delusions of grandeur and not just because I had just made a 10. No, it was because this hole has eaten my breakfast, lunch, and dinner before. Really, the issue is that it’s an elevated tee shot above scrub: this means I tend to hit it into the scrub.

Which is what I did with my tee shot. Then I reteed it to about 207 from the pin. Then I blasted an 8 iron 160 yards or so, leaving 50 yards to the pin. I hit a lob wedge nice and easy, putting the ball on the green about 4 yards out. Missed it to a foot and tapped it in.

That’s a 7 which would have been a net birdie without the stupid lateral hazard.

Hole 18 is a tough hole that I’ve done well on. Didn’t do that this time: I had planned ot hit my 3 wood off the tee because it’s pretty wide open, but, chagrined by my earlier errors, I hit a 6 iron off the tee.

As I’m writing this, I sensing that perhaps I should be hitting my 8 iron off the tee. It goes the longest distance, i hit it well… why was I not using this?

Anyway, i hit my 6 iron about 145 yards, a top hook again. Then I chunked my way down the fairway, using an 8, then a sand wedge up to the water’s edge.

Then i hit the same shot twice with my pitching wedge and put the ball in the water.

The third time, I got the ball onto the green, 20 yards from the pin. I putted it to within 1.5 yards and then, naturally, missed the 1.5 yard putt. Made the 1 yard putt for a … 11.

So that was pretty rough. I shot 63 on the back 9 which was atrocious. The real bright spot was hole 11 and hole 15: the par 3s where I made a bogey and a par.

As bad as the first 9 holes were, this one was more bad. I had 24 approach shots, 6 penalty strokes, and hit 3 more hazards. Ironically, this just emphasized the importance of keeping the ball on the course.

I also missed quite a few short putts on the back 9, certainly caused by frustration and pressure.

The best shots were:

  1. PW on 1
  2. LW on 1
  3. 8 iron from the rough on 2
  4. SW from the bunker on 2
  5. Tee shot on 3 — even though it went long
  6. Approach shot on 4 — hit my spot perfect
  7. Rescue shot on 5 — hitting a floating ball 110!
  8. Tee shot on 6
  9. Chip putt on 6
  10. Chip putt on 8
  11. Tee shot on 9
  12. 3rd shot on 9
  13. Putt on 9
  14. 20y putt on 10
  15. Tee shot on 11
  16. Putt chip on 11
  17. Sand wedge shot 2 on 13
  18. Sand wedge shot 3 on 13
  19. Putt chip on 14
  20. Hole 15 tee shot
  21. Hole 15 putt
  22. Hole 15 finish
  23. 8 iron on hole 17
  24. LW on hole 17
  25. 22y putt on hole 18

Quick Round at Emerald Isle on 10/17

So this was an impromptu golf round. I booked the tee time an hour before play and showed up with about 20 minutes to warm up. I putted a bit, chipped a bit, and made some swings at tees on the first tee.

Then the rest of the tee time showed up. They were three, friendly, White guys. A father and son and the son’s friend. I was just about to tee off from the blue tees when they arrived.

I should have just played.

Goals for the round were:

  • pray before the round (did this!)
  • Smooth swing; don’t over swing
  • Make a birdie
  • No triple bogies
  • Have fun

An unofficial goal was “no three putts” but I didn’t articulate it. The other goal was that this was an impromptu tune up before I played on 10/22.

First hole, I didn’t play well. I hit a top hook to the tee box of 18, which runs parallel to the hole. Then I hit my sand wedge into the net that protects the tee box from hole 1. Then I hit a 6 iron chip under some trees which ran WAY too long. I thought about 8 iron and went with six to that I’d have more roll.

I should have done 8. 

Fourth shot was from a little hillock down onto the green, which I putted to 3 yards out. I missed the 3 yarder to 6 inches and tapped in for a … triple.

Goal 1, in the books.

Second hole, I hit a better tee shot, actually the best of our group. Into the fairway, about 110 yards, which is bad for an 8 iron but pretty good for a chunk.

That left me 70 yards to the pin so I hit a full LW, and that was a good shot! I had 10 yards or so left to putt … and i left it 3 yards short. I then got the 3 yard putt to be short of the hole, but I at least tapped it in for bogey.

Goal 2: Don’t three putt, in the books.

Hole 3, i chunked my 7 iron into the water. Then I played my PW from where the ball had entered the water and hit it perfectly, 97 yards to the green. That left me a 5 yard uphill putt that I missed to 1.75 yards short. I then missed the 1.75 yard putt long and made it for a 6. Another triple! And this time with a 3-putt! Double goal.

At least this one I had a hazard to excuse my poor score.

I also abandoned my playing partners at this point. It had been 40 minutes and we were … on hole 3. With no one in front of us. When I left them, they were looking for balls in the water of hole 3.

I couldn’t handle it.

Hole 4, I hit an excellent pitching wedge about 100 yards, to the green. I think it was 10 yards short (so a 9 iron would have been the perfect choice) but I was on the green, an easy two putt for par.

I missed the 10y putt right to 1.5 yards high – and promptly missed the 1.5 yard putt. So tapped it in for a bogey.

Still, another bogey is okay.

Hole 5 I chunked my 8 iron into the cart path, where it ran down the cart path to well long of the hole. The lie I had was … okay. The cart path is made of dirt and relief from the cart path would put me in line for a bunker or in line for a tree.

So I hit a pretty good pitching wedge from the cart path that I hit a little too hard. It ran over the green and under a tree just inside of OB.

I had a lot of green to work with and my lob wedge was working on the practice green so I bladed my lob wedge over the green, right back to the spot i was in previously.

That was stupid. I should have putted: it wasn’t like I needed to go over anything. But a good sand wedge got me back to the green, leaving me 5 yards out and putting. I missed the 5 yarder long and right, leaving me a yard left. Another triple bogey.

Hole 6 is a hole that I have historically done well on. It’s my best on the front nine, with an average score of a bogey.

This time, I hit a 9 iron right at the spot I was aiming for, a tree left of the green to keep the ball from going OB. Hit my spot exactly, leaving a 4y putt for birdie.

I marked it, looked at the putt. It was straight. Annoyed as I was having left my putter cover somewhere on the course, I lined it up and made the 12 footer for birdie.

Unironic goal achieved!

Hole 7 is a somehow challenging very short par 4. I hit my 8 iron off the tee and it was a big, sweeping slice that stayed inbounds because I missed well.

I contemplated chipping with my 8 iron from the spot in the rough but I didn’t for a reason I don’t understand. Well, I was concerned about the ball going off the back of the green, but my PW chip died on the fringe, so … I was not at risk at going off the back of the green.

Another PW chip left me 4 yards short of the green (another instance where the 8 iron would have been a better choice). So I promptly putted the 4 yarder to within 1 yard, missed the 1 yard putt, and then made it for  a double bogey.

Sigh.

8 is an uphill par 3 with nothing behind it and to the right and a huge bunker short left. So the only misses are long left and short right — but short right is OB.

I hit a good PW that didn’t have enough backspin to get out of the rough above the hole. I missed the downhill chip from the rough to 7y long, but honestly it’s such a challenging putt that I was happy that it stayed on the green.

I then lagged it up to 2 feet and made the putt for a bogey. Happy with that.

9 is also uphill, over a water hazard. So, knowing how this round is going so far, I chunked my 8 iron into the hazard. Then I reteed and hit it onto the green. Putted to within a foot and made for a double bogey.

So that was a pretty atrocious front 9: I shot a 44, which is my worst in … two rounds? Well, I also had 21 putts so that was nice.

What were the good parts of the front 9: well, the birdie was exceptional. And I hit both my 9 iron and pitching wedge pretty well…

Anyway, onto the back 9.

Hole 10 was set pretty far back so I hit my 8 iron. It was a good choice although I faded it right of the green. That left me 35 yards right of the pin. I hit my SW short of the destination, leaving 15 yards to the pin. I chose to chip again instead of putting since I was on the fringe and that was dumb. I missed my chip short, missed the putt close, missed the other putt, and then finally made it for a 6. Blegh.

Hole 11 I chunked my SW again, after the players in front of me let me play through. One of the old guys was strangely aggressive about it. That was weird.

So I chunked it into the water hazard, so I reteed and hit it onto the green.Then I rushed my putts, but managed to make a double bogey. That’s par number 2 if I could have just hit it onto the green to begin with.

Hole 12 I hit a pitching wedge since short was better than long. Then the guys behind me, who had let me play through, hit up on me, bizarrely, so I rushed my putts and 3-putted after putt chipping onto the green. Double.

Hole 13 has been a bug-bear for me in the past. This time, I hit a great SW to the green and then made a terrible uphill putt, leaving 3 yards remaining. I missed the 3 yard putt, missed the 1 yard remaining putt, and then finally finished the 4 putt for another double.

Hole 14 i hit a 7 iron which faded OB. Then I reteed and hit another fade, but aimed further left, so the ball landed pin high over the green. A wonderful 9 iron chip left me 1 yard from the green — which I promptly missed. Another 6.

At this point, I stopped taking notes. I was frustrated and backed up again, behind a family two-some. But I was frustrated so I might as well stop keeping such careful track.

I hit an okay 8 iron short of the hole hole 15. It left a long chip that i left very short, since I hit to the opposite side of the green. After leaving the SW chip short, I putted onto the green, again short. I then putted short, putted close,and finally put it in for another 3-putt.

Hole 16 I hit my 9 iron long of the green but I was able to get on with a good putt chip, especially since it was downhill. Then the putting woes returned: I putted it short, missed it again, and then made a 5. Great.

Hole 17 i finally had a good shot. I hit the green with a shot, but the backspin on the ball took it off the green. Surprise suprise, I had an okay chip on then missed a few times for another 3-putt 5.

Hole 18, I was a bit irresponsible. I didn’t call fore, and hit on the left side of the green with a pitching wedge. The ball rolled onto the green and I made a wonderful second putt that finished 4 inches from the hole. Then I missed the 4 inch putt for par and made a bogey.

So in this godforsaken round, I made 1 birdie, 1 bogey, and then everything else was a 5 or a 6. Which is what I had hoped to do on Friday, 10/22, and promptly didn’t do.

My putting was the biggest thing that held me back. It was atrocious. I missed 10 of 27 putts from within 2 yards which was atrocious. Taking those 10 putts out, I would have had just 37 putts, which would have been bad, but that also would have been the difference between an 81 and a 91.

My tee shots were not good but I tended to recover well. Really, my putting was atrocious.

I went back and practiced my putting later in the week and was able to make the same putts in 35 putts, including removing the 4-putt. So that was a good feeling. It was a putting anomaly.

Best shots

  1. Lob Wedge on Hole 2
  2. Pitching Wedge on Hole 3
  3. Pitching wedge on hole 4
  4. Tee shot on 6
  5. Birdie putt on 6
  6. SW retee on Hole 11
  7. SW on hole 13
  8. 9 iron chip on 14
  9. Tee shot on 18
  10. Lag putt on 18

That’s … not a lot of good shots. Which is appropriate because it was not a good round.

Lesson 3 with Don Byrd

Had a lesson today (written 9/23) at the golf club of california with Don Byrd. It was my first lesson in about 3 months: vacation and the first month of school really got in the way. Oh, and the fact that our house was a construction zone for some time.

So it’s now three months later. Since I met with Don the last time, I’ve played 66 holes and have continued to improve. I made every putt from under 6 feet at St. Mark’s in July, played two family scrambles, and scored my best-ever championship score on the Vineyards course. At the Loma Club, I had a birdie for the first time in nearly two years and had 34 putts, which was especially good because I didn’t play particularly well that day.

So we talked a little bit about how to score on the way up to the course. I told Don, “I’d really like to learn how to hit my longer clubs.”

He asked me why. I told him I wanted to be closer to the hole with my second and third shots.

He told me, very kindly, that I was wrong. My handicap is so high that I should give myself two strokes on every hole.

Here is a summary of what he said.

“Look at the scorecard. Even the longest hole is only 500 yards. If you can get your 7 iron 150 yards each time, you are on the green in 4 strokes and you can two-putt for a bogey.”

I’m paying him for lessons. I will endeavor to listen to him. He did let me know that my instincts were correct: it’ll help to have a longer club off the tee. Driver or 3 wood were what he recommended.

I told him my relationship with my 3 wood was poor. He told me that was fine. 

We worked on the range, I think because the course was pretty crowded.

I hit 5 pitching wedge shots at 85 yards. He saw me taking a small backswing and trying a shorter swing and asked me what I would normally hit in this situation. I told him sand wedge, so we switched to sand wedge. 10 sand wedge shots, 5 9 iron, 5 8 iron, 5 7 iron, and 5 driver shots. Then I hit 10 shots with my 3 wood after he saw what my driver was doing.

I struggled. There is no other way to say it. I didn’t make very good contact and didn’t feel very confident.

Don worked with my contact, having me do a drill aligned to a folding chair. My goal was to strike the back of the chair with the heel of my club, sweeping my right elbow across my chest.

I was, predictably, a mess with this as I tried to do a very intentional action. It was like thinking about walking without walking.

I seemed to have figured out the chair drill pretty well, but extending my right arm by uncocking my wrist after the swing was a challenge. Again, it is like trying to think about throwing while you are throwing. It is very hard.

Don also gave me some course management advice: take everything that wasn’t a 7 iron down and my 3 wood out of my bag. Goodbye, 6 iron, at least for now.

I should be getting down to a bogey on par 3s (happily, I can share that my average on par 3s since I started taking lessons is a fine 3.91 strokes per hole).  I should treat par as two strokes higher on par 4s and par 5s.

I felt very happy because my chipping and putting appear to be pretty good. I’m down to about 1.7 putts per hole since my first lesson, from averaging 2.2 a hole previously.

So now it is just: keep putting, keep chipping, and work on the chair drill with my 3 wood and all the other clubs in my bag and then work on the extension.

I’ll let you know when I play again! And it’ll be 7 iron on down!

Day later update:

So the elbow across the chest thing is beginning to click. The extension will take time. I also know that I should be encouraged by a push shot, since that means that I literally just missed the optimal contact point.

What did I learn:

3 wood was blocked out a lot, with a big swooping fade. I did have two really nice shots: one with a draw and another where I flushed it. But I only topped one and that was because I didn’t extend.

So I’ll aim left side of my target pretty considerably to account for the most likely miss.

Loma Club on Labor Day (9/6/21)

The Loma Club is a very short course, in San Diego’s Liberty Station.

I, once again, forgot to set any goals before the round. I was going with my brother in law and my wife’s childhood friend’s husband (not the same person) to a very very short par 3 course. This makes it sound more abrupt than it was but, while I knew we had a tee time, I knew nothing else for how the day was going to go. Were my daughters and wife going to join us on the course? Were my sister-in-law and her (and my wife’s) childhood friend and childhood friend’s children?

Hence, the lack of goals.

What goals would I need besides “have fun” and don’t embarrass myself? Also, and I don’t know if you know this, but the last time I played I nearly broke 100 on a championship course so do I really need any help?

Anyway I should have set some goals. In retrospect, my goal was to bogey every hole. So there’s that.

But I was with my friends, playing on Labor Day, while my daughters and wife cavorted with friends (sister-in-law, their mutual childhood friend, my children, childhood friend’s children) at Liberty Station.

Hole 1 

Hole 1 is a short, uphill par 3. It is about 90 yards on its longest days with a bunker left.

I hit a sand wedge since according to my calculations, I tend to average a full sand wedge going about 80 yards.

(Details on this forthcoming)

Well, except if I hit it really good and flush. The pin was 86 yards and I hit a beautiful sand wedge to 108 yards. Maybe 100 yards carry and 8 yards of run. Way over the green and into the sand/dirt/mulch mixture behind the green.

I had about 32 yards to the green and it was a downhill shot. So I hit my lob wedge to … somewhere (I forget where I was aiming) but it didn’t stop rolling. Ball rolled to the fringe, about 10 yards long.

I missed the chip putt long (the practice green was a moonscape and I can see that affecting my judgment) and then I drained a 2.5 y downhill putt for bogey. But I felt pretty good. A wonderful tee shot that was somehow bad then a tough pitch from a bad lie, then a decent if poorly judged putt. And then I made it.

Hole 2

Hole 2 is a longer par 3 that is more uphill than hole 1. Okay, it’s about 100 yards (98 today) and the front and back are guarded by bunkers. Looking at the scorecard, the miss is right, since it’s a false front green. So you don’t want to miss short right. You just want to miss pin high right. Long and right is okay since that’s not where the bunker is.

I hit my pitching wedge because I wasn’t going to let one superpowered wedge shot throw me off my game. Pitching wedge goes between 100 and 110 yards and it was uphill.

The pitching wedge didn’t stop on the green and rolled out to the fringe. The ball was in the rough, but it was a downhill putt that I could try to make. I was 15 yards from the hole and putted to about 3 yards. I missed the 3 yards putt to about a yard long, which I then made for bogey.

Honestly, a SW was probably the right play there. Considering the distance on hole 1, I am surprised I didn’t make that connection at the time.

Hole 3

Hole 3 is the first “I’m playing a par 3 course” hole. It’s 70 yards from the back of the tee mat (no tee box here) to the very very back of the green. There’s a bunker right and a street very very far right.

Left is the course’s water tower. But there’s a pretty generous allowance.

I hit a very easy sand wedge that ended up just short of the front of the green. That it was 13 yards short. I guess I was adjusting?

I sand wedge chipped it on to 4 yards long, leaving me a downhill 4 yard putt that I nearly holed for a par save. As it was, the ball stopped 3 inches from the hole for an easy bogey.

Hole 4

This is a real par 3. 150 yards and uphill. Right is the road and a stand of trees protecting it. There’s also the remnants of a stand of trees up by the green.

And by remnants, I mean a 300 square foot patch of leftover pine needles, branches, and tree trunks.

Left are three bunkers: in front, to the left, and behind the green. It’s also a really large green. Everything says, “hit the ball left. The bunkers will save you from going downhill.”

I do not think about such things except in retrospect.

Naturally, with all these signs, I blocked out a beautiful 7 iron that would have been pin high if it didn’t, you know, go right.

Since I wasn’t sure I could find my ball, I hit a provisional 8 iron off the tee which got to the green on the left side of the green.

But sure enough, I found my ball, and I was on a tee of dirt, by a log, in the remnants of the trees that used to guard the right side of the hole. I later learned that this was ground under repair and so could have dropped freely at the nearest point of relief.

Instead, I hit my ball from the dirt. That 41 yard SW shot was pretty good okay: it got to about 26 yards and then died, leaving me 15 yards from the hole but on the fringe, at least.

It’s the on the fringe part that makes me say things like “it was okay.” I honestly don’t think I had a chance to aim it at the hole, from what I remember.

So I putted it 15 yards and missed 3 yards long. And then the 3 yard par putt missed 1 inch short, tauntingly. That’s a double-bogey. Good that I found my ball, I guess?

Hole 5

Hole 5 is a very short, very downhill par 3 that has a teeing mat. I had planned to hit LW or SW but unsolicited advice from my friends who are members said that that’s a great way to hit the tree that overhangs the tee box. So instead of using the shot that didn’t work on hole 3 but would have been very good here (since this hole is 60 yards), I hit my pitching wedge.

It was a pin high shot but a terrible bounce short of the green sent me careening off to the left, off the green.

For some reason, I thought a flop shot was a good choice here instead of a putt or a chip shot. I hit a flop shot with my lob wedge that I managed to get to 21 yards. Why? I don’t know. I guess I really didn’t want to give myself a chance to score? I guess the missing detail was that I was 30 yards from the pin.

Yeah I don’t know why I decided to hit a flop shot. At least it was a good flop shot, if in the wrong circumstances.

I missed the 9 yard uphill putt to 1 yard and made that putt. Bogey.

Hole 6

Hole 6 is parallel to hole 5, and as uphill as hole 5 is downhill. Today, it was about 55 yards.

So out came the sand wedge and out came a perfect replica of the shot on hole 3. This time, I was on the green with under 5 yards to the pin.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s birdie time!

Unfortunately, it was not birdie time. I putted it to about 1.5 yards long, all the way through the break. And that meant I had a 1.5 yard putt back that I missed. I did put the bogey putt away for my first 3-putt in … well, since Saturday when I played a scramble date with my wife. Yes, she is very kind to me.

But in official round terms, that was my first 3 putt in nearly 3 rounds! I would like to never three putt but they’re becoming much less frequent (1st in 23 holes, since my 3-putt on 7/15).

Hole 7

Hole 7 is another legitimate par 3. Nearly 200 yards, it benefits from being downhill and narrow left. So it is wide open for me, is what I’m saying.

I spotted a nice tee in the ground that someone left with a good lie behind it. So I teed up behind that tee and hit a sweet 6 iron to about 170 yards. The pin was very in the front and I was resting on the fringe of the green.

.

This time, I learned my lesson from hole 6: let’s lag it close and then make it for par. After all, it’s 10 yards from the pin! The green is covered in leaves!

Yeah, I made it. It was my first birdie in 26 golf outings (okay, I made a solo birdie in a scramble on Saturday at that great golf outing with my wife BUT STILL). My first birdie since February 2020, when Coronavirus was just this crazy thing in China.

Felt good to birdie.

Hole 8

Uphill par 3, about 150 yards, coming back against hole 7 and hole 9. It is wide wide open. There are some bunkers left and right of the fairway, but nothing long of the pin.

I hit a 6 iron and my brother-in-law said, “Wow! How’d you hit that so far with no follow through?”

I apparently hit a soft 6 iron about 130 yards. That left me 20 yards to the hole and, though it was uphill, I was flush with my success on hole 7. So I putted it uphill but it died at about 8 yards short, on the green. An unfortunate result.

8 yard putt got me 1.5 yards from the hole, which I made for a bogey.

Hole 9

On this hole, the kids ran out to meet us. So we had a gallery for this hole.

I always play better with my kids as an audience. On this one, 150 yards slightly downhill, I hit an 8 iron. I hit the 8 iron very good, almost to the green. It netted out to 141 yards, leaving me 13.2 yards to the pin from the fringe. I putted it and and left myself 1 yard to the hole.

Naturally, i missed that putt. No pars for me.

At the time, I felt pretty good about this one. My goal was to bogey every hole, and I shot 1 under that. If I had made the 1 yard putts I missed, I would have had a 33.

I also made a birdie!

For my tee shots, I made good contact on all of them. Unfortunately, only 1 found the green (although I’d say that the tee shots on 2, 7, and 9 were objectively good, as was my provisional on 4.). So about 5 of 11 really good shots off the tee/full swings; fortunately, no bad contact.

My putting was also okay: 16 putts on 9 holes, with hole outs of 2.5 and 10 yards. Making the under 2 yard putts would have saved me 2 strokes.

So my pain still came off the tee. I’m hitting it more consistently now, but I wasn’t hitting the green. When you don’t hit the green, it’s hard to make par. 

I also warmed up no chip shots at all, which I should probably do next time.

Let’s say I chipped and pitched better. How do I save the strokes? Hole 1: nope. A bad lie means even a good stroke can be bad. Hole 2: nope. Hole 3: maybe? Hole 4: not really. Hitting the ball not off line would help.. Hole 5: probably. Hole 8: maybe. Hole 9: nope.

So i maybe could have saved a stroke on 3, 5, and 8. So that’s a 30.

This reinforces that 1: golf is hard and 2: tee shot consistency is still a bug bear.

But some better short game play wouldn’t hurt. Especially under 100 yards. Because the over 100 yard holes I had:

15 (+3) on 4 holes, but it could have been a +1 pretty easy (don’t miss a 1 yarder on hole 9, hit a better tee shot on hole 4, chip better on hole 8). The short holes should be easy pars. Let’s work to make them work that way.

Then we ate lunch. And right when I was wondering what we were going to do with the afternoon, we got roped into another 9. Okay, well, my companions asked and my wife said “sure!”. But I had a caddie this time around: my oldest daughter came with me.

So back to it!

Hole 1

Since I blasted my SW long last time, I decided I would try to not do that again. Instead, I hit my LW. The shot went 75 yards and ended up just off the front of the green. A 10 yard putt up left me a yard to go … which I promptly missed. I made it the second time. Still no par for me.

However, my daughter pulled the pin and marked my ball (after kicking it down the hill on accident).

Hole 2

I tried to hit an easy pitching wedge and chunked it, ending up below the green about 78 yards out. Then i shank hooked (is that a thing?) my pitching wedge 20 yards left into the bunker that guards the green.

Then I blasted it out of the sand and got it on the green. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn my lesson from the previous shot and my 10 yard bogey putt was left 3 yards short. Then I missed the 3 yarder before making the triple bogey 1 yarder. Hooray.

There was a reason for this, however. After punting the ball into the trap, I received a text asking if my daughter wanted to go mini golfing. I asked her if she did and she said yes, and then, boom, we were off to the races back to the clubhouse to play mini golf. So there goes my caddie.

Hole 3

I decided to hit the SW a little bit harder this time and promptly shanked it right at the street into the pine needles.

I found my ball pretty easily (I could see it) and grabbed what I thought was my pitching wedge to chip it out. After all, the ball would easily roll out to the green.

Unfortunately, I had grabbed my lob wedge. I made decent contact considering the ball’s lie (behind some pine cones in some pine needles), and punted the ball and a few pine cones 10 yards, when I thought it would go 20 with a pitching wedge. Well, I went and hit the lob wedge again, another 10 yards, to get the ball on to the front right fringe of the green.

At least that was a consistent swing although I don’t remember at all what I thought I was doing there.

That left me 8 yards uphill for a bogey. But I thought: let’s get it close for a double. And I did: I got it very close. I got it in the hole, in fact. Bogey!

I was very happy despite my poor play so far. 24 foot putt should do that for anyone!

Hole 4

Since I had had success with my 8 iron on the previous time on this hole (you know, my provisional), I decided that the optimal play would be to hit 8 iron again. So I did. 

I absolutely blasted my 8 iron, but didn’t account for a fade and aimed at the right side of the green. So I ended up with the ball in a much worse place: instead of on a dirt clod adjacent to the scrub it was actually in the scrub.

Unfortunately, I didn’t read the rules. My lost ball here was in ground under repair, which would have entitled me to a free drop. But instead, I hit a provisional ball onto the green. This time, I aimed for the left side of the green and hit the ball straight.

After 3 minutes searching and not finding my ball (which, go figure, I hadn’t tracked it in the air to the ground), I went back to my ball on the green. Well, you know, my second ball.

So I ended up having 18 yards uphill for a putt. This to me says “Why didn’t you hit 7 iron?” but enough about that, inner voice. I made a pin high, uphill, 18y yard putt that I completely misread. The ball was 4 yards off line, leaving a 4 yard putt for a double. Which I also made.

So that was real nice. Double bogey and bogey — but on two putts I’d love to make again. Maybe next time for birdie and par.

Hole 5

This time I hit my lob wedge. It went a full 75 yards, well beyond the green.

I should mention here that I started doing something different with my swing. I slowed down my back swing considerably on 1 and 4+. It’s something that Jimmy does to ensure he accelerates through the ball.

And that’s what happened here. My lob wedge was perfectly struck and went way too far.

That left me on the moonscape behind the hole, which has become a moonscape due to all the players blasting it out of the bunker behind the hole.

It was a downhill lie and about 22 yards from the hole. I should have putted. Instead, I tried my SW and duffed the pitch shot about 6 yards. For my next poor choice, I made a flop shot that got to the green, but left me 7 yards long. I couldn’t keep up my streak of long putts and just rolled the 7 yarder to about 6 inches long. Tap in for double.

Looking at distances, I hit the shot I had wanted to hit on stroke 2. Except it was stroke 3. It went 23 yards. Oh well. Next time, I will try to putt it.

Hole 6

I continued my slow backswing and, though I took a bit off, I hit my sand wedge 20 yards further than the last time i played this hole. So it was into the sand trap.

It was a decent lie but I couldn’t putt it out because of the lip on the hole– or at least I hadn’t practiced. Fortunately, I made an excellent sand shot out and it ended 4 yards high of the hole.

I missed the putt 6 inches to the left of the hole but perfectly pin high. Easy tap in for bogey.

Hole 7

This time, I hit 6 iron with a bit more of a fade, quite a bit shorter. The ball landed directly in the bunker 30 yards from the hole, which means I hit it about 150 yards. Which is pretty normal for a not pure 6 iron.

Unfortunately, I was in the bunker. Also unfortunately: I had a great lie. I didn’t realize this at the time, but I hit a pure SW 60 yards, when the pin was 30 yards away. The ball went over the green and into some crappy fairway behind the tee. Then I hit my lob wedge 60 yards back over the pin to the fringe.

I had 18 yards for bogey and I got it within 1 yard. Felt pretty good about that and I finished it for a double.

The errors here were two fold: I didn’t hit it long enough off the tee (I mean, how could I?) and then I blasted it from the sand. That was unfortunate.

What was doubly unfortunate was the shot coming back: why did I hit a lob wedge in that circumstance? I have never practiced that? It should have been an easy sand wedge.

Hole 8

I hit an 8 iron on this hole and ended up going about 125, which was 5 yards short of an easy 6 iron. So I had 21 yards to the flag stick which would be a 7 iron tee shot, I do believe. Oh well.

I was 21 yards short of the pin and decided that a low-risk PW chip was the right choice. Which it was but unfortunately, I decided I needed to finesse the shot instead of hitting the center of the green.

So I finessed the shot all right, to the fringe, where it barely hopped onto the green and died. That left me a 9 yard putt which I put 1 yard close. Then I missed the 1 yarder and finally made it. That’s another double bogey! Argh!

Hole 9

I learned from my mistake on the previous hole, which was that I was short with an 8 iron. So I hit 7 iron off the tee with a pin high stroke that I aimed left and hit perfectly straight, maybe with a small draw. That meant I was in the bunker.

I then topped my bunker shot 60 yards out of the bunker that I could have easily putted out of. It rolled through a bunker and onto the artificial grass of the deck.

The marshall frantically told me not to hit from the deck so I dropped for free behind a bunker. It was 42 yards to the pin and I ended up 7 yards from my target, but on the green. Missed the 7 yarder close and tapped it in for a double bogey.

So this round I was significantly worse: 8 strokes worse, to be exact. No pars, no birdies, just 3 bogies for a 43. Bleg.

I really had a case of the golfs and also a case of the poor judgments. I didn’t really stop and think about the likely miss on most holes. So let’s see.

Hole 1 was a case of the golfs: good play to be in a position for an easy par and choked.

Hole 2 was a case of the bad lucks: chunk on the tee shot, then bad into the trap, then okay from the sand, then hurried because I had to run my daughter back to the club house.

Hole 3 was a shank and then a mistake compounded by another mistake (misidentifying my club 2x).

Hole 4 was a failure to miss properly.

Hole 5 was a duff followed by not responding to the duff.

Hole 6 was pretty good, honestly. Obviously, I wish I had hit the green instead of the trap and that I had saved it closer from the trap.

Hole 7 was a sand trap special and then a bad decision after that. Nearly made up for by good putting.

Hole 8 was a dorkus play: I played the length I could hit, not the length I would likely hit.

Hole 9 was a very high risk sand play and then okay after that (I swung way too hard for the distance it needed to go)

Making the 1 yarders would have cut my score by 2. A better choice on hole 3 (after I realized it was a LW), on hole 5 (maybe putting or switching clubs), hole 7, hole 9 could have saved 4. So that puts me at … 37.

Well that’s reassuring… actually it is. If I had made the right plays in a few plays, say, save those 6 strokes and then the potential 30 on the front: that’s a 67 through 18 holes which would be my best score by 1 stroke. I’d be very happy with that score, honestly. I wouldn’t even have to play perfectly to do that.

My lessons:

  1. You can’t score if you can’t get it on the green. I did not hit the green with my tee shots. I really only had a few chances at par. First round: Hole 6, Hole 7 (cha-ching!), Hole 9; second round: Hole 1, Hole 9.
  2. Make the 1 yarders or less. I did make putts of 2.5y, 10.3y, 8y and 4y. I also had shots that got me close enough to score: 10.5y, 4y, 9, 8y, 13y, 10, 18, 7, 4, 18, 9, 7: that’s 12 of 18 holes where i lagged it close enough to make a 2 putt nice and easy.
  3. Pitching pitching pitching pitching pitching. I didn’t feel confident pitching or chipping and that made things tough. Need to work on those almost exclusively now, I think.

But I did have some good strokes.

  1. GIR on 6 giving a chance for birdie
  2. Tee shot on 7
  3. 10 yard putt on 7 for BIRDIE
  4. 13 yard fringe putt on 9
  5. 10 yard Putt on hole 1 to leave a 1 yard par save.
  6. 8 yard Putt on hole 3 for bogey.
  7. 4 yard putt on hole 4 for a double bogey.
  8. Putt on hole 7 to make a triple bogey into a double bogey.
  9. Two putt on hole 9 after some challenging short game.

But that is not a lot. I didn’t play very well — can you tell? But it was still fun. And a 78 through 18 holes on a new par 3 course is pretty good, honestly.

The Vineyard in August

I had the opportunity to play The Vineyard golf course with two friends on August 6 because Qualcomm gave everyone at the company a day off. Woot!

One playing companion is a friend who is a driving force behind the blog (because he was really interested in my exhaustive course notes). He requested his alias to be “Tyrone.” The other friend asked that his alias be “Giorgio Armani.”

I got off to a late start, but was able to warm up at the driving range by hitting the ball poorly. I putted and chipped a little bit. So I felt fairly warm. I had had a cold earlier in the week, but I am vaccinated, had tested Covid-negative, and felt pretty good.

The Vineyard is in Escondido, which is the equidistant, inexpensive, somewhat-championship golf course for both me and Tyrone. Giorgio was added later so he was not considered in the goal of golf course evaluation equality.

The Vineyard is in Escondido so it is hot. And, because it’s inexpensive, it is very, very crowded.

Reviewing my notes, my goals for the round were:

1.

Nothing? What?! That’s not the goal-oriented golf hobbyist I know, and I’m me! I didn’t even have a goal of having fun. How am I supposed to have fun?

I suppose being under the weather influenced my goal setting. I should have something like: try for a birdie. Make par on a par 5. But alas. No goals. Instead my document has aphorisms like:

Commit to the shot! Don’t move your head! Don’t overswing!

These are all old aphorisms, even! My new ones are things like:

Check your grip and alignment before each shot. Don’t think over the ball. Just swing.

I have played this course before. The first time, I shot a wonderful 125, hitting every single club in my bag. The next time, I limited myself to only irons and shot 111. This time, I was planning on relying on my 8 iron, allowing a few driver shots or 6 irons off the tee as risks permitted. My warm up with my driver made me a bit wary of using it in general.

Anyway, the rest of the preamble:

Giorgio, Tyrone, and I got to the starting area and planned to join up with Henry, who was a friendly fellow who decided to play from the blue tees. He was a single player, after all. But then the intercom told us that there was a two-some and another single that he’d been joined up with.

This was bizarre because the fairway seemed clear. But, okay, we will listen to the starter intercom.

So we watched as the clear fairway remained clear — and then we teed off, joining up with Henry in defiance of the powers that be. And also because the rest of his playing partners weren’t present.

Hole 1 – Par 4 but treat it as a Par 6

Hole 1 at Vineyards is a straightaway par 4 about 400 yards from the tips. But we were playing the white tees (except for Henry who wanted to challenge himself). It has bunkers around the fairway at the driver landing zone and also bunkers that protect the back and front right of the green.

See the bunkers?

Hole 1 with 1 bunker visible.
Hole 1 with 1 bunker visible.

The previous times I’ve played this course, I have done horribly on this hole. My goal is to get a 6 and I’ve not done that before.

Based on how my warmup went I had 2 options: 8 irons all day every day or driver then 8 iron. Since my warm up was abbreviated and poor, I went with the 8 iron off the tee. My 8 iron off the tee was also based on my previous outing where I was hitting 150+ yard 8 irons (You can read about that outing here: St. Mark’s Course on 7/15).

Anyway, my 8 iron was very nice off the tee, into the fairway but I think to about 130 yards. My second shot was equally as nice although I can see that I haven’t been practicing hitting balls off the fairway. I hit the ball well and thought I had chunked it.

Everything was going according to plan, surprisingly. I had 80-something yards from the pin, which I *though* was my sand wedge distance.

Unfortunately, I really decided that I need to swing hard. Really hard.

I thinned my sand wedge which went the distance I wanted it to go, about 87 yards. The problem was that it wasn’t high, it was long and spinny. The ball skipped off the green and into the bunker behind the green and then to the fringe of the bunker.

This is a bad spot. I had to carry the ball 22 yards to get it over the bunker and I promptly chose my Lob Wedge, which I lobbed into the bunker. 1 yard longer (easy enough using my SW or a PW) and I would have been on the green. Instead, I plopped into the bunker but rolled to a nice lie. Sand wedge time.

I hit out of the bunker in one shot to a nice knee-knocker putting distance of 2.5 yards. But I made that putt for a 6, which was a new record on this hole!

4 good shots, bracketing 2 bad shots.

The first bad shot was caused by overswinging. The second was really just from the lie — the ball was on the fringe of the bunker. I should have hit my pitching wedge or sand wedge there and should have just got the ball on the green. But the sand shot was really good.

Hole 2 – Par 4 but treat it as a Par 6

This is a dogleg par 4. There is a large lake left, which is what the dogleg bends around. There is also a small lake right off the tee and then water behind the fairway to collect shots that go too long.

There’s a pot bunker at the end of the fairway and a bunker to add insult to injury if you bail out left on your approach to the green. Oh, and the front of the green is protected by the lake that makes the dog leg.

This hole is a monster. It’s another one where I’d love to get a 6 — and I’ve never done that.

I hit 6 iron off the tee because my friends were hitting drivers. My 6 iron was nice and long and in the middle of the fairway. It was maybe 140 yards from the pin and that is a hard distance for me. So i decided to stick to plan and hit my 8 iron toward that pot bunker right of the green.

I had trouble getting a good practice swing where I hit the turf slightly before my swing. Next time, I’ll step off and just swing easier. This time, I shanked my 8 iron right at Henry (who was maybe 25 yards ahead) and down the hill that leads to the pond that collects shots that go too long.

So here, as I write this, I realize I made a grievous error but it’s pretty understandable. I thought I could find my ball that I shanked over the hill that leads to the pond. I should have given my ball up as lost (or rather, into the hazard) and just rehit from the spot. That’s what you can do, according to the rules.

I also should have expected this. I was playing a Pro V1 gifted to me by my in-laws. I should have known it would go into the water.

After fruitlessly searching for my ball, I dropped in a terrible position (behind a bunch of trees on the edge of the pond). I had thought this was a bad position to drop, but on re-reading the rules: them’s the breaks. The hazard was unmarked which means it is a regular water hazard, which means you can rehit or drop from the point where your ball entered the hazard.

Understanding where I was and that I was on my fourth shot, I hit a punch shot back to the fairway, some 50 yards or so away from the green. I was happy with this shot.

Unfortunately, I made a dumb choice with shot 5. Instead of hitting a 40 yard shot or a 50-yard shot, I hit the same exact shot that I hit on shot 4.

The reason that this was dumb was that I hit a tree with that shot. Just a branch, but enough to slow the ball down.

I also decided to pitch it with my pitching wedge. The reason that this is an error is I always seem to pitch it long with my pitching wedge. Also I have not practiced hitting these pitching wedge shots in a while. I have practiced hitting my sand wedge about 40 to 50 yards. And it works great.

I also didn’t measure the distance I needed the shot to go. So I didn’t even listen to my still current aphorism of “commit to the shot.”

So I blasted the ball 70 yards, over the green, into a chain link fence and finally to rest in a drainage ditch. Fortunately, I could easily find my ball. I needed to drop because the ball was not playable.

So now I had some random distance to go to the green (I didn’t measure) but I did use my sand wedge to chip it onto the green, to 1 yard out. I promptly made that putt for an 8. But honestly, an 8 is pretty typical with two penalty strokes.

So that is 1 stroke to a shank, which can happen. And then another for not really thinking about what I was expecting to happen. And then, of course, the two penalty strokes.

Two putts in two holes is pretty good though. And those chips!

Hole 3 – Par 3 but treat it as a par 4

Hole 3 is a very short par 3 which guards the front of the green with the pond that collected my Pro V1 on Hole 2.

There are bunkers to protect you from shots running long, because if they go long that is bad. There’s the cart path and there is a hazard behind the hole.

I could only see greenery, which is a great mindset to have. Since I could only see greenery, I hit the green with a perfect sand wedge. It made a huge ball mark and spun back like 3 yards, leaving me with an 8 yard uphill putt. 

I blasted this 8 yard uphill, 5 yards long of the hole. Why did I blast it so far? Well, because I had been putting earlier in the day on the wet, wet practice green and it seemed like the greens were kind of slow. But this one had been mowed recently.

Probably not that slow… 

I definitely groaned after hitting it past. I had hit a 8 yard uphill putt to 5 yards long. A 15 foot putt is not one I try to make regularly, and downhill?

But guess what!? I made it. 5 yards coming back, down the hill, dropping into the cup for a par. All better. Net birdie, too!

Hole 4 – Par 4, treat it as a par 5

This is another hole that I’ve struggled on (golf is a struggle) but I don’t really know why.

Well I do know why: it’s fairly long and bordered on the right side by a huge lateral hazard. Left is the fairway for hole 5 so missing left is the place to go, even if there are trees and sand traps in the way.

My best on this hole is a 7. I have also had an 11 on this hole because of that huge hazard. Oh and my inability to hit the ball consistently until I took a lesson with Don Byrd.

My plan was to hit 8 iron into the center of the fairway, then an 8 iron further up the fairway, then onto the green with a PW or SW to the elevated green.

Going for the green, you want to go short and left. Short and right is a deep bunker and long puts you downhill … toward a horrifying, deep bunker to an elevated green.

We were going really slow here. We watched the guy on the tee in front of us hit 3 different balls. Now that wouldn’t be a problem normally, but we pulled up before they teed off. So there was a nice, 10-minute wait at the tee box. Oh and then he also hit another ball from the red tees with his beginner playing partners? What was up with that.

We later saw that he had been backed up too but there’s still not much of an excuse.

I hit an excellent 8 iron off the tee, but I blocked it out right. Either I was aligned that way or that was my swing path because the ball went straight as a frozen rope — just pointed right at a huge tree in the hazard. Not again! I had visualized the left side! Left!

But instead of reteeing, I decided that since I knew where the ball went out, I would just drop in the rough and avail myself of the rules. It was a good hit, after all. (I checked online after and it went like 150 yards).

Instead, I found my ball in the hazard! And the lie was not too bad. Sure it was in dirt and covered by some sticks but I was not going to hit the green anyway with my second shot.

I hit a great punch shot out to the fairway, leaving me about 100 yards from the pin. I shot the back of the green, seeing that it was like 130 yards or so, which gave me confidence to use my pitching wedge. (I have a problem with the pitching wedge going very very long).

Smooth swing and would you know it? The ball was on the green. I even made a ball mark and had backspin and everything.

I wonder if I should have hit a 9 iron, since that would have probably put my right at the pin — but that is the wrong thought to have. I was on the green! I had a par putt even after hitting the ball into a hazard!

It was a 10 yard uphill putt but I put it 1.5 yards short and right. But then I made that four-footer easy-peasy for net-par/bogey.

Also, I have in my notes that I needed to eat something at this point in the round — which were fruit snacks!

Hole 5 – Par 4, treat as par 5

Coming back alongside Hole 4, Hole 5 has an elevated tee over a small lake to the right. The landing area is guarded left and right by bunkers but to the right, after the lake, is Hole 9’s fairway. To the left, of course, is hole 4’s fairway.

It’s wide open, is what I’m saying.

Afraid of the water and afraid of my driver because of the water, I decided to hit 8 iron off the tee.

It was a good tee shot, but it had a pretty long carry (for me at least): like 150 yards. But I did it: I flushed another 8 iron about 150 to the fairway. Hurray!

Somehow unenthused by accomplishing my goal, I really, really overswung at my ball. I had 200+ yards to go and felt deflated, somehow. (again! I accomplished my goal! What the heck?!)

The result of my overswing? A chunk. The ball at least moved forward to about 110 yards out. Not exactly what I was hoping for (my plan was 8 iron, 9 iron, pitch on) but still progress.

I then took the wrong learning from Hole 4. Hole 4’s lesson should have been: 100 to 110 with a pitching wedge is a great distance. Instead I decided to try to finesse a 9 iron to the green.

The result was I hit a very easy 9 iron that went about three-quarters as far as I wanted it to go.

I should have hit a pitching wedge.

I was about 26 yards from the pin and hit a good sand wedge. Why was it good? Because it was on the green, leaving me 5 yards out. I just missed the 5 yard putt and was in for a double bogey — a net bogey for me.

Hole 6 – Par 3, treat as Par 4

Hole 6 is a longer par 3 (the longest on the course, actually), slightly uphill. The biggest issue is that there is hazard in front and hazard right and hazard left. Long? There’s a bunker and then a road. But you’d have to be an idiot to hit it that long.

This was the hole with the longest wait. We were on the tee for I think 20 minutes? We arrived as we watched the people in front of us (who were beginners) look for their balls for several minutes and then dilly-dally around on the green.

We were all annoyed, as annoyed as only golfers can get. The thing that was more frustrating was that we could see hole 9 (a par 5) with a completely tee box, fairway, and green. No one on the hole. At all.

The ambassador rolled up and told us that he had asked the group ahead of the group ahead of the group ahead of us (our great grand-group?) to speed up because apparently they were a playing a team game? I don’t really know what the issue was.

But the wait allowed me to confirm several times that it was 130 yards or so to the hole. Since that was well within my 8 iron wheelhouse, I decided to hit 8 iron.

Dear reader, I crushed it again. And I also blocked it out a bit right. So I think some alignment practice might be a good idea.

I saw the ball bounce, maybe hit the cart path, and then I couldn’t see it come to rest.

I looked for it for a bit, couldn’t find it, and dropped from the red-staked hazard.  That left me about 20 yards to the pin. I hit my SW to about 3 yards. Then i missed the 3-yard-putt long and right, before putting it in for a double bogey.

Hole 7 – Par 4, treat as a par 5

Hole 7 is the shortest and easiest hole on the course. It’s a dogleg right, going around a large, red-staked hazard. To make it more challenging, the hazard (which it shares with Hole 6) was super over-grown. Or maybe I just haven’t seen it in the summer?

Anyway, the dogleg is pretty severe. At the end of the landing zone, there’s a pretty crazy bunker that dominates the hill side. At the slightly elevated green, there’s a huge and deep bunker just below the hole, bordering the hazard. Just in case hitting over the hazard isn’t hard enough.

I aimed up the left side of the fairway, aiming at the bunker at the end of the landing zone. But I was hitting 8 iron so I was not too worried.. And then i blocked the 8 iron again! Fortunately, the fairway opened up behind the intimidating trees around which my ball disappeared, so I found my ball easily, sitting pretty in the fairway. I could even cut the corner!

It was also 110 yards from the hole. So I hit my 110 yard club (or so I thought). I hit my 9 iron.

This didn’t go too well. I chunked the shot because I overswung, right into the lateral hazard. Fortunately, the wetlands is very dry. So I would have been able to hit it if I could just find the dang ball.

I had hope that the ball sitting in the massive bunker in front of the green was mine through some fluke….

No. It was not. It was Tyrone’s TEE SHOT. He had hit driver, complained about his shot shape (“I hit it too high! And too far right!”) before we informed him that he may have driven the green. That made him very cheerful.

Instead, I couldn’t not find my ball. I took advantage of my other playing partner’s looking for and hitting their balls to not find mine. Finally, Tyrone walked over, said, “It’s right here!” and pointed out my ball.

It was in a tree well and in a tree well filled with grass that had never been cut. How he saw it, I don’t know. 

Okay, he said he saw my ball hit the tree — but it was still well spotted.

So I grabbed my lob wedge, didn’t check how far I needed the ball to go, and swung out of my shoes. I must have hit the top of the ball but a top wasn’t too bad.

The ball rolled out of the tree well, through the bunker, up the hill and onto the fringe of the green, surpassing my wildest expectations. I expected it to take me maybe two swings to get out.

Anyway, from the fringe, I made one of the best plays I’ve made in some time. I putted the ball 15 yards and had it die just 6 inches from the hole. I’ll take that bogey, thank you very much! Oh wait: that’s a net par!

Hole 8 – Par 4, treat as a par 6

Another treacherous hole. It borders the opposite side of Hole 6 and Hole 7’s hazard on the right side of the hole. The left side of the hole is Hole 9’s fairway, so left is a good miss. I rarely miss left so this hole is one where I’ve suffered. Every time I have hit it into the hazard.

Other than that, it’s quite straightaway.

I stuck to my plan and learned from my pain previously. Well, kind of. I hit an 8 iron off the tee, nice and good and to the left side of the fairway. Then I chunked my 8 iron because my second shot had so far to go. 

I did not remember I was playing a par 6.

Was it a chunk though? I ask because after my second shot, I ended up in the fairway, 80 yards from the pin. 

I don’t think I chunked it. I think I’m just so unaccustomed to hitting the ball from the fairway that every divot is scary. Maybe a little chunky but if I look at my plan, I was hoping for a SW on.

Naturally, I did overswing my sand wedge and hit a thin shot that ran long of the green, reminiscent of hole 1. What’s even more annoying is that the pin was in the front. Why was I swinging so hard?

This time, I think I learned from my mistake on Hole 1. Well, maybe. I hit a 25y downhill pitching wedge bump and run that was about 10 yards short of the pin. So maybe a different shot would have been better? I dunno: I was on the green this time — and in one shot.

I putted the 10 yard putt to within 6 inches and tapped in for double bogey — or a net par!

Hole 9 – Par 5, treat it as a par 7

Par 5 and, since it’s par 5, it is really tough for me.

There’s the lake we first met on hole 5 that protects the green and defends the right side of the fairway. The left side is Hole 8 and the right side is Hole 5, up to the lake, at least.

My original plan was an excellent one: hit 8 iron a whole bunch of times. But I thought about it headed up to the tee box and there wasn’t a lot to lose from a driver. I haven’t topped the ball that much lately …

So I hit driver. And it went … not very good. I top-hooked the driver. But despite the mishit, the ball went about as long as a beautiful 8 iron would. And it was in the fairway.

So I reset after my short drive and absolutely CRUSHED my 8 iron from the fairway back to the fairway. I hit my 8 iron so well that it left me 100 yards away from the green. And I don’t even remember overswinging.

I was so excited at the attempt for a real-life GIR that I hit my pitching wedge just long of the green into the rough.

It was a little too deep to putt so I grabbed the trusty sand wedge. But the promise of a par on a par 5 proved too seductive and I fluffed my chip. At least I went from the rough to the fringe.

That left me 10 yards from the pin. Interrupted by an excellent Tyrone birdie ( I think he putted in from off the green) I putted it to be 1 yard short. “A 1-yard putt for bogey” I thought as I strolled to the green.

Well, I don’t know if I thought of that. I do know that I was not focused and promptly missed the 1-yard putt. I did make it coming back. For a double bogey — a net par.

Front 9 summary

I had a par, 2 bogeys, 5 doubles, and a +4 that adds up to ..

I shot 51!? On the front 9? That is pretty good for me. Correction: that is amazing for me!

I try not to add up the score, but I knew I was doing well against my goal of breaking 100. The others I was playing with wanted me to add it up to keep score, so I did.

I shot a 51 on the front 9. At this course, my previous best was a 57. So that’s six strokes better for a +16 — or a net score of +3.

How did that happen? Well, my tee shots, excluding hole 9, were well struck. 3 of them aimed wrong, but 5 of them were in the fairway.

My approach shots, which is where my game is the weakest, wasn’t even that bad. 15 strokes may seem like a lot, but consider that I expected to have 14 (2 on 1, 2, 4, 5, and 8, 4 on 9, and 1 on 7), 15 strokes isn’t that bad. I also stayed in the fair.

My chipping was also good: since I only hit 1 GIR, I would expect to have 8 chips. I had 10 and only had three holes with three chips.

Really, the reason that I wasn’t under my goal score of 48 was because:

Hole 1: bad SW approach shot put me in a terrible lie

Hole 2: shank and then a too long PW pitch shot

Hole 5: chunked a 8 iron

Hole 6: Lateral hazard on the tee

Hole 7: chunk 9 iron

Hole 8: thin SW again

Hole 9: fluffed chip, missed putt

That’s 9 strokes with easy improvements. Especially the missed putt on 9.

My putting was fantastic: I had 15 putts which could have easily been 14 with better focus. It could have been 13 with a little more luck (hole 7 and hole 8).

I can easily do a best 5 shots from the front 9. Heck, it’s way more than 5.

  1. Perfect tee shot on 1
  2. Perfect approach on 1
  3. Great putt on 1
  4. Great 6 iron on 2
  5. Great chip on 2
  6. GIR on 3
  7. 5.3 y putt on 3
  8. Good PW punch on 4
  9. Good PW to green on 4
  10. Good 8 iron to FW on 5
  11. Good putt on 7 to 6 inches from 45 feet!
  12. Good putt to 6 inches on 8
  13. Good 8 iron on hole 9
  14. Good fringe putt on 9

That’s 14 strokes where I don’t think I could improve on them. I would like to do those next time.

Overall, I had 27 useful shots out of 31 shots from the field (the thins are debatable but I do count them; the blocks were good swings too). I had 15 good putts of 17 tries (remember, two putts from off the green).

Onto the back 9.

Hole 10 – Par 4, treat as a par 6

Hole 10 is an uphill par 4. It runs right (well, the range is on the right) next to the range, which presents OB along the right side. The left side is bordered by a fence protecting an OB road.

The green is guarded long by bunkers rear left and behind it. To the right is open, except you’re chipping downhill. And the green is elevated and two tier. I don’t remember where the pin was but that tends to protect against missing right.

In retrospect, I should have stuck to my plan: 6 iron or 8 iron off the tee, 8 up the hill, and then a pitching wedge to sand wedge onto the elevated green.

Instead, I decided to hit driver, on the logic that the previous driver had been horrible. Usually, I will follow with a good strike after a bad strike — but this is also immediately afterward.

I followed my mediocre driver on hole 9 with an okay driver on hole 10. Good contact, but the driver faded right, headed toward OB.

I went to look for the ball and didn’t find it until Giorgio came over and found it for me, just on the edge of OB. It was a Titelist Pro V1, so I should have expected to lose the ball.

I was so elated to find the ball that I didn’t really aim very well. I hit a punch shot PW to get the ball back on to the green, only to hit a palm tree in my line and have the ball die at the base.

So I hit my PW again from the rough, another punch shot just short of the green. It is an elevated two-tier green so it was actually fortunate I couldn’t try for the green to miss short (the palm tree and other trees prevented a shot getting to the green). Both Giorgio and Tyrone had multiple shots roll down the hill on approach.

That left me 45 yards uphill. I thought about it and decided that a bump and run was probably the best choice. Considering I’d go about halfway to the green and then expect it to roll the rest of the way, uphill, I decided on a 7 iron.

It was a good chip shot but it left me about 5.3 yards to the pin. Notice how specific I was?


Yeah. I made it. Second time today with a 16-foot make. Bogey for a net birdie.

Hole 11 – Par 4, treat as a par 6

Hole 11 is a long par 4 with a very faint dogleg to the right. The left side is wide open, with a hill at about 200 to 250 yards out that borders trees and OB. The right is the fairway to hole 16. So it really is wide open. It is long, but the second shot is toward a downhill green so if you can get the ball over the hill, it should run.

The bunker is well greened — well, flip that. Opposite.

Green has no bunker behind but that’s okay, it doesn’t need one. The long downhill means you don’t want to go long. There’s a bunker left of the green, right of the green and in front.

My plan was: 8 iron, 8 iron, 8 iron. However, since it was so wide-open, I decided to hit driver. I aimed left side and knocked it down the right side of the fairway, straight as a frozen rope.

The ball went over the hill and I thought that with the ball flight i had, it would just keep going. When we came upon the ball, however, I discovered it had stopped in the fairway about where it landed. Bad luck.

I was maybe 170 from the green and had a good lie, so I hit 6 iron.

I crushed it, perfectly straight, but headed right at the left bunker! It stopped short, in the fairway. The pin was in the front which meant it was a tricky chip.

I hit a 10y lob wedge chip a little long to get it on the green. Then I missed the 5y putt short (since it was downhill), leaving an easy in for bogey.

These are two challenging holes, 7 and 3 on the handicap index, and I bogeyed both.

Sorry, net-birdied both.

Hole 12 – Par 3, treat as a par 4

Hole 12 is a par 3, with the front of the green and the majority of the approach guarded by a lake. It is fairly short and has a bunker right of the green and behind it. There’s plenty of room to go long around the green, though.

My plan was to hit whatever would find the middle of the green. Instead of sticking to the plan, I decided that I need to try to stick it on the pin.

I also had planned to hit 8 iron but I clubbed up to a 7 iron since it was a bit longer today: pin was in the back and the tee boxes were back. So about 135 to the pin.

I hit a good 7 iron that I aimed poorly. At the center of the green it would have been birdie-able because it faded right onto the fringe and then bounced onto the cart path.

I took relief from the cart path and hit a LW chip 23 yards when I wanted it to go 15 yards. It rolled off the green leaving me 8 yards coming back.

I missed the par putt from the fringe a little long, to about 3 yards long. But then I drained that 3 yard putt :).

Another bogey! This time a net par.

Hole 13, par 4, treat it as a par 6

That was pretty sweet play. But Hole 13 is a beast.

It is really long, the longest par 4 on the course in total yardage. From the tips it is like 477 yards.

However, it is really downhill, which moves the handicap index to 5. However, there is no room to the right: it’s red-staked right. Left is the fairway for hole 15, so left is the miss. But I don’t miss left.

Yes, if you miss left you may have to contend with some fairway bunkers but that is better than a penalty stroke.

I decided to hit driver since it worked on Hole 10 and 11. And it worked BEAUTIFULLY. Great stroke down the center of the fairway and out of sight, down the hill.

I think the ball ended up stopped at 290 yards out in a decent patch of grass. It was about 160 from the pin but way downhill, like 130 equivalent. So out came the trusty 8 iron.

And I hit a pure shot that bounced on the green and settled toward the hole. Pin high shot just 7 yards from hole.

That’s a fairway in regulation and a green in regulation and a legitimate birdie chance. It’s 7 yards so it’s a tough birdie.

Giorgio politely showed me the line with his par putt and I lined it up. It was a good birdie chance — that I left just a tad short. It was the right line and I was happy with a par – a net EAGLE.

That’s 3 over in 4 holes. Who is playing this golf?

Hole 14, Par 4, treat as a par 5.

Hole 14 is very challenging. It’s short, like 350 yards, and downhill. What makes it hard? 

The entire left side along the fairway is a lake and it’s about 150 yards to carry the water. The right side is pretty narrow: the fairway drops off into OB and scrub and just places you don’t want to be. There are also two fairway bunkers at the landing zone.

At the green, there are two bunkers in front of the green to the right and one to the left behind the green. If you go right and long, you roll down the hill into OB.

The water is what makes this hole so tough, especially for me. My plan was to hit 8 iron or 6 iron to the fairway, then hit whatever would be short of the end of the fairway (to avoid the lake). Then a pitching wedge to the green.

I hit a great 6 iron that of course decided to draw a bit. I landed on the fairway but not far from the water. Here, look at some terrapins.

Turtles!

It was a good lie and I made a good swing with my 6 iron, since the water carry was about 120 yards. Even a mishit 6 iron will go that far.

But I hit the ball very nicely, leaving me just 25y short of the front pin, in the fairway again.

I decided to hit a LW and carried it a bit long to about 8 yards long. I tried again for fun with a putt instead of a lob wedge and got it to about 7 yards out, still short of the green.

I was on the fringe and putted downhill and just went way way way long, leaving me about 8 yards from the pin but going uphill. So in terms of position, the putt would have been a better decision.

I putted the 8y putt close and then made it. But what a bummer.

Double bogey (net bogey) but still pretty good on a challenging hole. Still +5 through 5 holes.

Hole 15, Par 5, treat as a par 6

Hole 15 is a par 5 and par 5 are my nemeses. This has the lake from Hole 14 left of the pin and then a long expanse of open rough to the right.

The other issue is that this hole has an elevated tee box, with the rough preceding the fairway rolling off toward the lake. It’s also a fairly challenging distance for me, over 150 yards.

There are a large number of bunkers in the landing area right of the fairway. If you can hit it longer than 200 yards, the left side is wide open, into the tee of Hole 14 and then the fairway of hole 13.

There are bunkers by the green, something like six or 7, all to collect hero shots for the under GIR big hitters.

I decided to hit driver since it had gone well the last few times. Unfortunately, I swung way too hard. I took a divot and popped it up.

(I actually don’t remember how hard a I swung but it was … not good).

My plan had been to hit 8 irons all the way up the fairway (including off the tee). Since that hadn’t happened, I decided to take my medicine and get back to the fairway.

8 iron did just that, landing in 2 shots where I would have expected a 6 iron to put me on a normal swing.

I then hit a thin 6 iron from the fairway into some … not grass. I think before I have said that golf on not grass is hard. This was the case.

I was salivating over getting it close to the green, even from the not grass, so I overswung and chunked a 6 iron.

However, a chunk that moves the ball ins’t a bad thing. In grass again (finally), I hit a very good but short just-short-of-the-green 6 iron.

I putted from the front of the green an unrecorded distance to a 1 yard putt for double bogey. Which I didn’t focus on, missed, and then made for the triple. Stupid par 5s.

Hole 16, Par 4, treat as a par 6

Getting into the home stretch now, which includes the hardest hole on the course. Nearly as long as hole 13, hole 16 has the distinction of being almost 460 yards from the tips and 390 yards from the white tees. And it’s a par 4.

Why is it so hard? Well it’s fairly straight, but it’s a blind, uphill tee shot. Then, there is very little left side to work with and the right side is downhill to the fairway of hole 11.

It also narrows intensely at the green. There’s a huge bunker in front on the right and an OB obstruction that guards it to the left, along with a bunker behind that obstruction. Miss too long and you’re going down the cart path through the tunnel to Hole 17/Hole 10’s green.

So yeah, it’s tough.

Since my driver went poorly on hole 15, I decided to give myself another shot. And I hit a pretty good driver fade that ran just off the fairway.

Then I made a ridiculous decision. I thought “Why not hit 3 wood?” After all, I’d just hit it 200 yards uphill with my driver. I had 200 yards to the hole. That’s about as far as my 3 wood goes — if I hit the ball successfully.

However, me and the 3 wood, we got issues. I have never been able to figure it out. And this dysfunctional relationship continued here.

I’m really puzzled as to why I did this. Just a brain fart.

I made okay contact from the rough but the ball started hooking, right toward OB. And then it hit a tree and caromed off into the fairway about 110 yards from the pin.

I hit my 9 iron from that spot. I thought it was chunk but — chunks don’t go the distance you expect. I ended up being fine. The ball was on the green, 11 yards from the pin.

Unfortunately, I putted too short on my par putt and left myself 2.5 yards for bogey. Which I managed to make by hitting the stick. Yes, it bounced off. But Covid rules say you don’t pull the flagstick, hitting it counts as holing it. Right? If I had pulled it, the putt would have dropped. 😛

So i’m taking a bogey. Net birdie.

Hole 17, par 3, treat as a par 4

Hole 17 is a short par 3. Where all the other par 3s have obstacles, this one just has a swale leading to the green. There’s a pair of bunkers left, a bunker right, and a bunker behind the green. The pin was very in the front, and the tees were up, taking a normally 120 yard hole to about 100 yards.

So that’s a pitching wedge for me. And if it goes long, it goes long. It’s not a catastrophe.

I lined up and hit a swing — and slipped. That punted the ball thin and right into that sand trap which I have hit every time on this hole.

Each of my companions made similar errors so we all resolved to hit another tee shot just for fun.

I kid you not, I hit my tee shot 106 yards and spun it back to 103 yards, leaving about 4 yards uphill to the pin, on the green.

The rest of my companions didn’t fare so well but we all trudged up to our first shots, bemoaning someone who refused mulligans and politely allowed them to everyone else.

Look, I told them they could take as many mulligans as they’d like but I was not going to. And when the worst golfer says he’s not taking mulligans, I think that means you don’t either.

So I went to my ball in the sand that was about a 7 yard carry to get out, good lie. It then had to run like 15 yards on the green to get to the downhill hole. I briefly thought of a PW bump and run but thought better of it.

Get it on the green, and all that. Don’t be fancy.

I hit a pretty good bunker shot that just got better and better and better. The ball would not stop rolling and was on a perfect line, right for the pin.

It stopped 6 inches away which you know I made for the par save. Okay, it was conceded to me but I’m not missing a 6 inch putt.

I had marked my second ball so I went back to it. It was 2 yards to the pin. I made it. So that would have been a birdie. Oh well.

Hole 18, Par 4, treat as a Par 6

Very downhill.

Hole 18 is a long hole that is made more challenging by being extremely downhill.

“Doesn’t downhill make it easier?” I hear you say. In this case … no.

 There is OB left that opens up into a landing area maybe 200 yards away and then there’s a cavalcade of bunkers and trees right, alongside white stakes along the right side, guarding the driving range.

The green is heavily bunkered and further downhill from the landing area.  The only safe miss is short, but then you have to carry a bunker to the green. This is a hole where you always feel like you can drive the green — and I don’t think many people do, despite the low distance.

Well, my friend Jimmy could.

I knew at this point that I was playing really well. I had 2 pars and 4 bogeys which is exceptional for me. I really should have checked my score, for I would have realized that I was shooting at 91 at this point.

If I had known I had 91 going into the final hole, I would have made some adjustments. For instance, I think I would have taken it a bit easier. I would have stuck to my plan — after all, last time I played this hole, I hit a 6 iron into the fairway, and a 6 iron at the green and then a chip on to miss a putt for bogey. Yeah, I would have taken that.

I instead hit driver. My comrades, posed here, were joking about how they should take a picture for good content. I waved them off and turned on the driver.

I don’t know what happened but it went way way way left. Out of bounds.

I should have availed myself of the rules and taken the ball in the fairway, down in the landing area, hitting stroke 4. Instead, I re-teed and hit a beautiful straight shot that apparently ran into one of the fairway bunkers on the right side.

I also could have taken the mulligan my playing partners offered me but the only path is the virtuous path.

I was 110 from the stick so I decided to hit a 9 iron from the bunker. I had two terrible practice swings since I couldn’t ground my club. Yes, I should have stepped out of the hazard and taken my practice swing.

And that was how, on stroke 4, I chunked my 9 iron from the back of the bunker to the front of the bunker. Stroke 5, I managed to get the ball out of the bunker, sure. But I hit far too far behind the ball and what would have been an excellent greenside shot was a terrible approach shot.

The ball was out of the bunker into some horrifying rough. Committed to my pain, I tried to get the ball out of the rough. I succeeded.

It ran into the “fairway” if you can call it that. Really, it was the mud.

So I chunked it from the mud, trying to do too much. So, finally, from the not mud fairway, I hit a bump-and-run pitching wedge up the hill and onto the green.

We are now on stroke 9, finally putting. It was a 4y downhill putt that went a little bit long. I cleaned it for a par … Wait no, a +6 10.

Then I added my score and realized that my stupidity hitting driver had cost me a chance at achieving my best ever championship score by a hair.

I won’t make that mistake on that hole again. It’ll be irons down the hill until I can hit the driver consistently. And even then — irons might be the right way to go.

Back 9

I had a back 9 50 on a championship course. I have shot a 48 before on a back 9 on a championship course but a 50 is excellent for me — especially when I think that a 5 or a 6 on hole 18 would have given me, well, a 45 or a 46. I would have achieved my unarticulated goal of going below 100 by a decent margin.

So hole 18 cost me the score I wanted.

Okay so the back 9: I was much shakier off the tee. I had an extra tee shot due to the OB on 18, and struck 7 pretty well. I only found 4 fairways on 8 tries. 

That’s the price I paid for the driver, which actually helped me out. It got me into an OK spot on 10, a good spot on 11, a good spot on 13, a bad spot on 15, a good spot on 16, and then torpedoed hole 18.

My approach shots were not as bad as I thought: I planned to have 15 and had 15 — but the issue was that I had 11 through 6 holes and then added 4 on the 7th and last par 4 hole.

Chipping was good: 9 chips on 8 holes where I needed a chip. Even the double chips that I had (on 12, on 14) I got to a position where I could putt the second shot. 

Putting was also excellent: 15 putts, and just 1 miss from within 2 yards, which could have easily been 14 putts. Overall, I had 18 shots with my putter and only really missed 3 of them.

Really, the issue was hazards on the back 9, and really just hole 18. Completely lost focus.

Still, there was a lot to be proud of on the back 9.

  1. 7 iron bump and run on hole 10
  2. 16 foot putt on hole 10
  3. Driver on Hole 11
  4. Approach 6 on Hole 11
  5. 9 foot putt on Hole 12
  6. Drive on Hole 13
  7. 8 iron on Hole 13
  8. 7 yard putt on Hole 13
  9. 6 iron off tee on hole 14
  10. 6 iron to green on hole 14
  11. 8 iron rescue shot on hole 15
  12. 6 iron 5th shot on hole 15
  13. 8 foot putt on hole 16
  14. Provisional pitching wedge on hole 17
  15. Sand wedge on hole 17
  16. Pitching wedge bump and run on hole 18 to end the pain

That’s 30 excellent shots!

Overall, hole 18 left a bad taste in my mouth when I should have not let it do so. On the back 9, I had … 31 total shots and 24 useful strokes. That’s significantly fewer than the front 9, but it also includes hole 18, which accounted for 4 of those bad shots. Without hole 18, that’s 21 good shots in 24 strokes.

Putting was my best performance ever. 30 putts and just half were from within 2 yards. While I wish I could have made every short putt, I didn’t have to make as many short putts because I made putts of 16 feet (2 times), 9 feet (1 time) and 8 feet (2 times). That’s great work!

Overall it was a good round especially since I had been ill earlier in the week. It was my best score on a championship course and a 10 stroke improvement from the last time I played the course. It was my best putting performance by far. 

Until next time!

Golfing with friends from … elementary school? At St. Marks Exec Course on 7/15

On Thursday afternoon, I played St. Mark’s Executive Course with three friends from (checks notes) elementary school? We’ve been friends for a long time and have stayed friends for a long time.

St. Mark’s is an inexpensive executive course, but it’s well kept. It has a decent amount of elevation change but it’s pretty safe. It’s not particularly narrow and it isn’t particularly long. But there are 4 legitimate par 4s.

I’ve played there before and previously shot a +17, which was my best ever score until I played at Emerald Isle on June 11th. I felt pretty confident but, per my goals, I wanted to just have a nice time.

Speaking of goals, these were my goals for the day:

  1. Have fun
  2. No triple bogies
  3. No 4-putts
  4. Make a birdie

So let’s get started.

We drew lots for hole 1 (well, I threw a tee at my friends). The best golfer by a huge mile, Jimmy, went first, followed by Chason, followed by me, followed by our friend Kiven. Yes, their names have been changed to protect their innocence but they know who they are. And, honestly, it’s not too hard to figure out who they are. Here is a picture.

An aside: the town that this golf course is in is called San Marcos. For those of you who don’t know Spanish, that is Saint Mark. I feel like this was a racist choice to avoid using Spanish.

Hole 1

The tees were more than a little forward this day and, since it’s an executive course, there is a choice of red or white tees. Should Chason, Kiven, and I play red tees? Probably. Did we? No.

Hole 1 is a short par 3 with a pond left and the parking lot right. There are some trees and a sand trap behind the hole.

My plan was to hit a smooth pitching wedge over the water, landing on the green smartly, leaving an easy put to the hole. It was about 100 yards to the center of the green, which is where I was aiming.

Instead, I absolutely blasted my pitching wedge 130 yards — over the green and behind a tree. As I walked toward that hole, I spilled my beer when my push cart rolled over a bump in the road. So a double fail 😦

That less than ideal place meant I had a 40 yard shot from behind a tree. That went long, off the front of the green.

“I made par last time.” I whined to myself as I walked across the green with my putter.

It was a long putt, like 45 feet. Naturally, I putted it far, far too long, even for a chip, through and off the green, leaving 24 feet downhill. In my defense, the first green was FAR nicer than the practice green. So the bumpy practice green probably would have eaten up that putt nicely. Instead…

So my 4th shot was my first official putt, 8 yards downhill which I missed to 5 yards long. That is a very bad miss.

I finally recovered and made the 5 yard putt just close enough to tap in for a triple bogey.


GOAL ACCOMPLISHED!

Hole 2

Hole 2 is very downhill. There is a sand trap to the left of the green. There are houses to the right and a road further to the left. There is also a swamp in the middle of the fairway.

My plan was to hit an 8 iron off this tee, even though the green was 145 yards away. After all, it was quite downhill.

I hit a nice 8 iron shot that just missed the fairway in front of the green, maybe 130 yards. Unfortunately, I was completely embedded in the rough. Like the ball was swimming in the grass.

I was about 16 yards from the pin so I hit my SW out and the ball ran along the green to 7 yards long. But honestly, with the lie I had, I was happy to have hit the ball.

A 7 yard downhill putt from the fringe finished 1.5 yards above the hole. I putted downhill and made the 1.5yard putt.

That 7 yard putt is an iffy putt since I would have liked to have had it within tap in distance. However, my goal for any putt above 4 yards is to get the ball within 2 yards so I count it as a success.

Hole 3

Where hole 2 is downhill, hole 3 is uphill. The tees were short the day we played, so it was about 90 yards away. Since my pitching wedge, what I’d ordinarily hit here, went SO long, I decided to muscle up my sand wedge.

There’s a bunker right of the green, too. But I aimed at the front lip, figuring it would stick there and give me a chip if it didn’t run on.

My fade (the ball going left to right) returned and I hit the sand wedge nice and pure about 89 yards — into the bunker at the lip right next to the green. Fortunately, the bunker was hard-packed so I rolled along the sand to a decent lie.

I hit a 25 yard lob wedge shot that ran on the green to 9 yards long. It was another 9 yard, downhill putt that I left short (can you tell that Hole 1’s putting fiasco was still in my head?). I then missed the 2 yard putt JUST right and tapped in for a double bogey.

Hole 4

Hole 4 is a par 4 and it is a legitimate par 4. It is a downhill tee shot to a dog leg sharp right. You can shoot the dogleg, if you can hit the ball 300 yards, blind, around some houses. At the dogleg, there are some bunkers in the fairway. But if you go long through the fairway, it runs into Hole 5. There are hills that slope toward the fairway, so any topped shots will probably run back into the fairway.

My plan was: 8 iron off the tee, 8 iron toward the green, likely leaving a chip on.

I hit a great 8 iron off the tee but it faded a bit right in the fairway, which meant I had a slightly blind shot at the green, which was guarded by a bunker right. I was about 130 yards from the flag, so it was in a great 8 iron distance (even if it was uphill). (That means I hit my 8 iron 160 yards off the tee!)

My 8 iron was the perfect distance but it faded right again, into some thick rough right of the green. I didn’t have to carry the bunker with my pitch shot of 20 or so yards. I hit a great pitch, leaving me above the hole about 2 yards from the pin. Unfortunately, it was a slippery downhill putt that several of my friends had missed. Fortunately, I made it. Getting up and down for par when you hit the green is real nice.

I also hit a provisional tee shot with my 4 hybrid and hit it a shorter distance than I hit my 8 iron. So that’s fun.

About now was when I forgot to remember to take pictures. It’s a bummer because the light kept getting better and better.

Hole 5

Hole 5 is downhill, parallel to the end of hole 4. It is a short hole, guarded right by a swampy drainage area that is a lateral hazard and houses. Behind the hole is hole 6, so it’s pretty open.

My plan here was to hit whatever had worked on hole 1 — which was a stupid plan. Because nothing worked on hole 1 except for my 5 yard putt. But I hit what I thought was an easy pitching wedge — and I flushed it another 130 yards off the tee. The hole was maybe 100 yards downhill.

That left me 24 yards over about 13 yards of rough to get to the pin. No problem, I thought, i will hit SW that distance. Instead, I hit my sand wedge 12 yards and the ball just died in the rough.

So I chipped my second sand wedge of 12 yards to about 1.5 yards out and then drained the 1.5 yard putt for bogey.

On this hole, Jimmy had a great tee shot about 1 yard from the hole. So an easy birdie for that machine.

Hole 6

Hole 6 is another short, downhill par 3. It was about 70 yards to the pin but the downhill made it play like 67 yards. Since I kept going long with everything else, I hit my lob wedge. I figured it would go about that distance. My original plan had been pitching wedge.

As it was, it was a little short at about 65 yards. So it was off the green but it left an uphill putt. So i putted onto the green with a 7 yard putt, leaving it about 1 yard short, which I made for an easy par save.

Hole 7

Hole 7 is a long, uphill par 3 and it’s quite challenging because of that. This day it was about 150 yards to the pin.

My plan was to hit 8 iron off the tee, preparing for a chip on. I thought about using my 6 iron but since I haven’t practiced with it at all in the last month, I laid off the 8 iron.

I did mention to my friends I was going to “step on it.” That led to a slightly chunky shot, which meant the ball died in the fairway instead of rolling and went about 125 instead of a 135. I dunno, after I hit the ball, Kiven said that my ball flight sounded like Jimmy’s, screaming through the air like a missile.

So I was about 35 yards from the pin with my SW and I hit the ball … 35 yards, so it ran out long, leaving me a 9 yard downhill putt from off the green. Which I drained for a par.

So that’s a 27 foot putt, thank you very much!

Hole 8

This is another very downhill par 3 of about 100 yards, guarded by houses and OB right and behind the hole and bunkers on either side of it. 

I decided I would learn from my mistakes and I hit my SW, when I’d usually hit PW here. My SW went about 95 yards and died on the fringe, about 15 yards from the pin on the fringe. I was on the left side of the green and my three playing partners were all clustered on the right front fringe.

I duffed the putt horribly. It was uphill so I should have tried to hit it beyond the hole. Instead, I hit it about 10 yards, leaving me 6 yards into the hole. I redeemed myself with shot 3, leaving myself just 6 inches for bogey. Oof.

Hole 9

Hole 9 is a short par 3, again, about 100 yards from our tee location. There’s a brutal bunker that guards the front left of the hole and the right side is a pretty generous distance from the OB. Oh the water hazard on hole 1 is in play if you hook it.

Original plan: pitching wedge. Revised plan since pitching wedge is going 130 yards on every strike: sand wedge.

I hit the sand wedge really good but I think I caught it a little chunky. It went to about 80 yard and got stuck in some of the right rough. I hit a provisional PW that missed the green but was pin high — go figure.

I had about 19 yards to the hole and a lot of green to work with so I thought I would hit the fringe with a lob wedge and the ball would roll onto the green. That was an unwise choice: I should have bumped and run with a pitching wedge from that distance.

Instead, my Lob wedge shot bounced a little short of my aiming point and just stopped on the fringe. Womp wow.

That left me 5 yards from the hole on the fringe. I putted it up and also terribly, about 2 yards down from the hole. Ugh.

Fortunately, I made the 2 yard putt for bogey.

There should be something you notice from the front nine. No, it’s not that I hit 0 greens. No it’s not that I had 13 putts — it should be that I didn’t miss hit a single tee shot. In fact, I hit several of them TOO good. My bad tee shots were on 1 and 5 and that’s because I hit the ball long.

Even though I missed every single green, I had 7 excellent tee shots. I shot +9 on the front 9, which was 1 under my previous best on that course.

Also, I was having a great time.

Hole 10

Hole 10 is a slightly uphill par 3 that ends up being about 110 yards or so. Since the back of the green was like 120 yards I thought, “Even if I hit it 130 yards with my pitching wedge, i will not have too long to go.”

Realistically, i probably should have hit it a little shorter. But I did take a bit off my pitching wedge (well, a whole lot off) and hit it about 105, pin high, with a slight fade off the green (what else is new?)

I had a 7 yard, downhill putt chip  that I finally missed long, leaving myself 2 yards long and also downhill again.

Unfortunately, I could not replicate my escape on hole 9 and missed right. I didn’t right down the distance so I made the bogey putt and it wasn’t too long.

Hole 11

Hole 11 is a long par  (for this course, anyway) that has a slight dogleg left. Jimmy hit his driver off the tee and ended up going as far as Kiven and Chason’s 6 iron shots because he hit a tree. Because there are trees that protect the green from people like Jimmy.

There are also bunkers that protect the green at the dog leg, and then one that protects the green right. There’s also a line of trees that separates this fairway from Hole 16’s fairway.

I decided to play smart and hit my 8 iron off the tee. That was my plan, after all. I hit it well and left myself 160 yards to the rear pin position. My plan had been to hit 8 iron with my second shot (which is what I should have done) but the green called to me. So I hit my 6 iron and chunked it.

This was especially stupid because I had hit my 8 iron 160 yards off the tee. If I can hit it 160 yards off the tee, then I can hit it like 130 to 150 yards from the fairway. But I didn’t realize that at the time. Alas.

So I hit my 6 iron maybe 60 yards, from the fairway into the rough. That left me about 80 yards to the pin so I hit my sand wedge.

I thought I chunked it. Instead, I hit it perfectly. The ball hit 3 yards above the hole, hopped, and spun back about a yard. 

So i had, despite my best efforts a shot at par with a 2 yard downhill putt.

My friend Chason missed his putt from about the same spot so I tried to read the ball out right. That was stupid and I missed right. Tap in for bogey.

Hole 12

Hole 12 was hilarious. It is a short, downhill par 3 and today it was extra short. Normally about 100 yards with a blind tee shot, this time it was 70 yards with a blind tee shot. The white tees were actually closer than the red tees, because the white tees were on top of a hill maybe 5 yards above the red tees. 

So I hit my Lob Wedge about 70 yards onto the green (finally) about 7 yards left of the hole. I left my downhill putt short about 1.5 yards, but I made that 1.5 yard putt for a par.

Hole 13

Hole 13 was similarly playing way up. It can be a 130 yard hole but today, it was not. Today, it was about 80 yards since the white tees were moved very far up.

I decided, based on my success on hole 11 with the SW from 80 yards, to hit SW. I hit it 75 yards and unfortunately, hit it so well that I put backspin on the ball.

That left me on the green but 9 yards below the hole. No matter, an uphill putt is a good putt, right?

Wrong? I left the 9 yard putt 2 yards short and then I just missed the 2 yard putt to finish. 1 foot tap in for bogey.

Hole 14

Hole 14 is similar to all the other holes in this section: short. It has a bunker in front of the green left and right and on the score card it is only 87 yards.

Today, it was playing more like 100, I thought. Turns out, it was more like 90 and i ended up hitting my pitching wedge 105 yards, over the green, over the hill and into the rough. THat was really frustrating.

What made it more frustrating was that I had a buried lie and a tree in my way. Well, not exactly in my way, but definitely in my flight path. I didn’t realize it was in my flight path until I tried to hit my lob wedge the 17 yards I needed it to go.

It went 5 because it hit the tree and dropped right down into the rough.

Frustrated, I hacked at the ball in the rough ( I probably should have putted it) and launched it to 12 yards long of the hole but at least on the green.

So then I finally, finally, missed my 12 yard uphill putt long but too long. So I had a 2 yard downhill putt for double bogey which I missed. Fortunately, I was 2 inches from the hole so an easy in.

This was the most frustrating hole of the day by far. Again, I hit the tee shot too far and then I made bad choice to get out of a jam. Smarter play would have been a pitching wedge bump and run.

Hole 15

Now terrified of my pitching wedge, on the 99 yard hole that was hole 15, I hit sand wedge. I hit it beautifully but it went about 80 yards. I was the only person who missed the green out of our gang and I was disappointed.

I had a 27 yard sand wedge chip/pitch to get on the green. Which I, magically, pitched on to about 1.5 yards.

I made that for an excellent par save.

Hole 16

This is a straightaway par 4. There is the fairway to 11 of the right and a hill up left. If there’s any hole for me to hit driver, it’s this one.

I decided to stick to my plan and hit a … not good 8 iron into the fairway. I chunked it pretty badly and ended up about 110 yards. 

So not a bad hit, but I decided I would hit a provisional driver shot. It was 250 yards, straight as an arrow, down the middle of the fairway.

I thought about that a lot as I trudged up to my 8 iron shot. Everyone else, including Kiven who has not played in 10 years, out hit me by like 70 yards.

So saw that I had 220 yards to the back of the green and made another dumb choice: I decided to hit my 4 hybrid. I hooked it about 150 yards, nearly onto the teebox for hole 17. 

Like sands through an hourglass, 1 mistake leads to another or something like that.

I had a terrible shot for shot 3. I had to go 70 yards over some trees or go 50 yards under some trees. I chose to go under and hit SUCH A  GOOD SHOT — but I hit a twig on the tree which stopped the ball from getting to the green. 

Instead it stopped at about 30 yards out. I hit a 30 yard SW pitch shot that left me a 3 yard downhill putt that I missed real close. Double bogey.

My driver shot was 50 yards from the green. I would have had a real shot at birdie.

Blarg.

Hole 17

Hole 17 is a short (any news here?) uphill par 3. It is made challenging by:

  1. Being uphill
  2. Being guarded by a deep bunker everywhere.

So you have to carry the bunker which means the ball has to go at least 80 yards. Naturally, I hit the ball 80 yards with my sand wedge — which was 12 yards from the pin  — on the fringe.

I putted the 12 yard putt uphill and missed 3 yards short. Then I missed the 3 yard putt to 6 inches, easy in for a bogey.

Hole 18

Hole 18 is a short par 4 that is designed to tempt you to drive it in one. It’s a dog leg right, with the left side protected by trees and bunkers. The right side is wide open — so you should try to land there and pitch on.

Or you can do what Jimmy did: hit a 5 wood and go long of the green and not get a birdie. Well that’s not what he wanted to do but that’s what he did. It was spectacular.

I hit my 8 iron off the tee 167 yards apparently, right up against the fairway bunkers that protect the green. Chason hit his ball to the same spot.

It was a tough spot to be in: in the rough (although a good lie) with the need to go under trees to get to the green that was about 60 yards out.

I tried to punch a PW through there but ended up hitting the rough short of the fringe and coming up short, about 15 yards from the green.

I tried the PW bump and run against and it failed to continue running after being bumped.

So my 4th shot was 4 yards from off the green to a pin — the ball just died going up the hill and I finished with a tap in bogey.

Back 9

My back nine score was a 40 for a +10. So that’s a total score of 77, which is two off my best at this course and a really good round overall.

On the back 9, hit 2 of 3 fairways and 2 of 9 greens.

What was amazing about this round was that I had 2 chunked shots out of 23 full swings. That is by far the lowest number of full swings I’ve ever made. I also topped no shots, thinned no shots, and sliced no shots. I had 1 hook and 2 chunks — and all 3 were in circumstances where the chunk wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

For my pitches and chips, they were also pretty good.

Pitching, I had 6 pitch shots and no mishits (2 went long). Chipping, I had 7 chip shots and I didn’t mishit any of them.

The complete lack of mishits was amazing. Even the chunks that I had weren’t terrible — they didn’t set me back that much.

Even better were my putting numbers. I had 9 putting chips and 31 putts total — and i didn’t miss a single putt of less than 2 yards. That was monumental! I was 15 for 15!

Reviewing my performance, it was one of the best performances I’ve had. My full swings were really really useful — only had 2 swings that were not good contact. 

My problems were mostly caused by not knowing my distances: I kept hitting my pitching wedge long and wasn’t realizing that I could hit my 8 iron 150 yards. Knowing that for next time, I think I’ll have significantly more success.

The best shots were numerous:

  1. Sand Wedge pitch on hole 4
  2. 2 yard downhill putt on hole 4
  3. 9y yard chip-in on hole 7
  4. Tee shot on hole 11
  5. SW on 3rd shot on hole 11
  6. LW off the tee on hole 12
  7. SW off the tee on hole 13
  8. SW pitch on hole 15
  9. Provisional driver on hole 16

If you stuck around this long, thanks! These are always more for me than for anyone else but I know several people enjoy these blog posts.

Golf Lesson #2 with Don Byrd: I actually played 3 holes?!

I had my second lesson today (well, when I wrote this; I forgot to post it) with Don Byrd at the Golf Club of California. The lesson started off … poorly. I had to run some errands after the lesson. Naturally, I forgot a mask and had to go back and get it. Then I had to go get gas. So while I left nearly an hour before my lesson, I was running very very late.

Still, I got there right as Don was finishing his previous lesson so no harm, no foul. He picked me up and we went over to the range.


We talked about my (lack of) practice over the past few weeks. I mean, I’ve been to the range two times, have putted several times, and played once. He did not want to hear about my success at Emerald Isle (well he did) but I don’t think he wanted to read my blog then and there.

Anyway, we hit about 10 pitching wedge shots and 10 8 iron shots at the range and he worked on adjusting my stance and correctly hinging my wrists. The pitching wedge shots were okay (not nearly as good as last time) and the 8 iron shots … were not great. I was struggling to hit the ball straight since I was busy trying to align my wrists and my elbows with my chakras in my knees, shoulders, and feet.

Golf is struggling and I was practicing golf, man.

Then he said, “Let’s hop in the cart and take it out to the course.”

I mean, I knew that I was eventually going to do this. But it was a mixture of excitement (yippe! golf!) and trepidation (what about my errands! Also, what about my course plan!?)

So … off we went. We got to the first tee box … and then we went past the black tees, past the blue tees, past the white tees, all the way to the red tees. Which, honestly, I should be playing. I’m very, very bad at golf.

So one thing that was problematic was that I wasn’t able to my usual “take notes after each shot” routine which is what I’d like to do. 

Anyway: Hole 1 on the Golf Club of California is a straightaway par 4 with bunkers that protect you from the hazard long of the fairway and a lateral hazard/wetland right. There’s a severe dogleg right at the green to use the hazard to protect it.

Don had me hit 8 iron off the tee which I promptly chunked. Then I hit a long fade (I think). That’s what I would have hit there anyway — my goal was to get to 120 yards out or so.

I also wanted to tell him that I hit one ball usually and just play that. But it was a lesson and I was very self conscious that I was justifying my poor play, in general. So I didn’t tell him this.

So we approached the first ball and I promptly hit a big slice out of bounds with my 8 iron. But I hit the second one pretty well into the fairway again, maybe … xxx yards out? I don’t remember.

I got to my second ball in the middle of the fairway and hit my pitching wedge very crappily and out of bounds. Then I hit my second shot really well onto the green.

Then when I got to my second ball, he told me to hit a sand wedge. And so I did, it was a sand wedge that stuck to the green and spun back. I hit a good shot!

I putted both balls on the green close and Don conceded to me each gimme putt. It’s kind of hard to calculate a real score on this one, because … i would have made different choices. And also would have written down what I did. I think I actually made one of the putts from about 5 yards.

Don also to me to stop trying to read putts and just try to get the distance right. “Once you get the distance right, your mind will compensate for that in line with the break.”

But I was in the fairway the whole time. I was so jazzed to be playing golf that I didn’t really pay attention to what he was saying.

The second hole we drove past all the other tees to the front tee again. I suggested that I would probably hit driver here since there wasn’t a downside but Don said, “You want to build on success. Sure you could hit driver but most people aren’t thinking of hitting a distance. They’re thinking of hitting it as far as the ball can go.”

I told him I didn’t think about that but I hit 8 iron instead.

So no driver. Instead, it was a pure, 150 yard 8 iron to the left side of the tee into the fairway. Then another 8 iron to the end of the fairway (with a big slice but leaving me in a decent position based on how I aimed it). Still in the fairway though.

That left me a PW slightly over a tree. I completely missed my aiming point and went long and right with my PW.

That left me a very long chip from off the green. However, I did pretty fantastic and got the ball to a concession distance. That’d be a 4, thank you very much! (I mean, i missed that second putt multiple times…)

The third hole I had another shot that I hit really well off the tee. (8 iron again). Then on my second shot, I punted my 8 iron quite a bit left after about 400 practice swings. Fortunately, it hit a tree and bounced out, leaving me a tricky pitch shot over a bunker. But I pitched it well over the bunker and onto the green.

It rolled out a bit, leaving me a 6 yard putt or so that I completely ignored what Don was saying. I missed the putt like 2 times. The second time, I said, I missed high. Don said: “Just shoot straight!” So I did and made the putt, go figure.

Those kind of successes on the course make me giddy. “See, daddy, I did the thing you ASKED me to do.” In this case, it was a bit more impacted by the fact that I was, in fact, not doing the thing he asked. Then I did it and I would have had another par.

So it was really exciting to get to play. My drills are going to be hitting tees at the park and trying to putt regularly. We’ll see how that goes.

UPDATE:

Since I have played with Don, I have practiced putting 3 times at a course and 1 time at home, and have practiced my full swing 5 times (2 times at a range). I also did some chipping practice that went very well too.

Playing on 7/15 with some friends so I will likely have a lesson … at some point after that?