Emerald Isle on June 11, 2021

I played Emerald Isle on June 11. I had two very special guests with me: my daughters! I had the day off work and my oldest had just finished kindergarten, so I took them with me to celebrate. They mostly like riding in the cart although my oldest will occasionally hit balls.

Youngest daughter being savvy and coy.

Daughter 2 riding in the cart and covering her face.

I also played with 3 other people which is something I was not expecting. I have never been added to a group playing at this particular course. I’ve joined up with other people out of convenience but never have I ever been forced to. The guys weren’t rude — quite to contrary — but it was a little uncomfortable. One of them also clearly did not have children based on some of the language he was using. But they were very kind, very respectful, and very understanding of my children speaking during their backswings.

We got there a few early to warm up putting. My older daughter putted around a bit; my younger daughter, sad that we have lost her putter, wanted to stay in the cart and eat snacks.

Last time, I was criticized for being too bossy. So this time, eating in the cart — that’s fine. Whatever you want to do, kids.

Anyway, I’ve played this course several times and always seem to find new and exciting ways to fail. Is that golf? Yes.

It’s an executive course with two “Par 4s.” Are they real par 4s? No. No they are not. One is a straightaway, 190 yard par 4. The other is 250 yards downhill. Both are pretty narrow. The rest are all Par 3s.

It is also a discount course. The tee boxes are … not always level. The greens are plinko boards — and consistently inconsistent. This time I was charged $10 for a cart. I’ve also never been charged for a cart before.

So there were lots of firsts here. But I have played with the girls there before and that’s always been fun — and a good reminder that golf is fun.

Anyway, my plan for this round was:

  • pray before the round with the girls
  • Smooth swing
  • Make a birdie
  • No triples

Oh and we played the white tees on the insistence of the first two guys to play with us. That was a good plan; I should probably be playing the shortest tees I can, going forward.

Oh and my mantra per hole was:

Check your grip and commit to the shot.

Check distances after the putt. Line it up, check the target, and go.

This was in size 16 font, bold, on my document of notes for this course. On every single hole.

Hole 1

The first hole is a 150 yard par 3 that is narrow. Right side is out of bounds (OB) scrub and a street. Left side is hole 18 — and then a net guarding the tee box for 18 and hole 2. There are trees behind the green. The green is pretty large.

I’ve played this course a lot. I have made par on this hole but I tend to double bogey. It’s the first hole, I get nervous, I get excited.

Anyway, my plan for the hole was to try for a bogey. Hit 8 iron easy off the tee, and then pitch it on.

Oh, and there’s these really nice agave plants that grow by the cart path as it runs along hole 2. There’s also a really small tree too. No reason to mention that…

Naturally, I chunked it into those nice agave plants, complete with mulch and dead grass. I had about … well, because I was with my daughters and with 3 other players that I didn’t know and because Don had mentioned to not really think about distances — I didn’t write it down. It was maybe 60 yards? 70 yards?

Anyway, the shot faded off the green. It was a pin high shot but the shot shape pushed it off the green.

Don had mentioned using the texas wedge (aka the putter) from anywhere that was within 20 paces of the green. I was definitely in putting distance. Maybe 7 yards? I putted it to 1.5 yards out, missed the 1.5 yard putt, and then finally made it. 

Double bogey on hole 1. Oh baby.

Hole 2

This is the shortest par 4 in the history of par 4s. It is like 190 yards from “the tips” which at this course are like 2 yards longer than the white tees. There’s OB right, helpfully noted by a sign on the tee box. Nothing like making you think “don’t hit a slice.”

To the left is a huge hill down. I have gone down that hill multiple times and each time my score gets progressively higher.

There’s a bunker left and a bunker right guarding the front of the green. Behind the green is a neighborhood which is, unfortunately, out of bounds.

My plan has been to hit a short iron off the green and then pitch it on. I’ve PARed this hole recently, so no need to change what works.

Hit my 8 iron off the tee and … shanked it. Shortly before this, I had to get after my children for wandering off toward one of my playing partners, who had conscientiously stepped about 15 yards away from us to make a practice swing.

The girls were okay (and not injured! which was my real concern) but it was not the first time I had to speak to them about being aware of their surroundings.

The ball went into the OB acacia so I hit another ball. Took a little bit off and had a very nice 8 iron off the tee. The ball ran off a little right into the rough, 40 yards from the green.

So I was lying my 4th shot and I swung my sand wedge. Chunked it but it was a useful miss: the ball went to the fringe of the green. I mean, any time you have to try to make 15 yard putt for bogey, you’re in a good spot, right?

Well, my new putting method of lining it up and just going for it worked … perfectly. I putted it to within 2 and a half yards and then made the 2.5 yarder for a double-bogey. That’s not too bad for hitting it out of bounds!

Hole 3 at Emerald Isle: a pond shielding a golf course green.

Hole 3 from the front of the blue/white tee box. Note the lake.

Hole 3

Hole 3 is legitimately challenging. At its longest, it’s 162 yards over a large pond. The ball has to carry 130 yards to stay out of the water hazard. Then you have to deal with the fact that the green is elevated, so it’s a bit longer.

And lest you think you can go long — you do not want to do that. The green is heavily sloped toward the water, with a large backstop behind. This is an intimidating hole.

My plan was to hit a punched 6 iron ( like a half swing) since that’ll usually get me over the water. It’s easier to go uphill on this hole then go downhill.

But since we were playing the white tees, the hole was a bit shorter: I think the front of the green was about 120 yards away. The pin was 135 yards

That’s an 8 iron distance for me. I flushed the 8 iron pin high, just a little right of the pin. “I got it on the green!” I told my daughters.

“Let’s goooo daddy.” They said. I should clarify that they were excited for us to drive the cart, although they forgot that was something they could do until the end of the round. But they weren’t raring to leave the course. They were having fun climbing around the cart. They were also not trying to express enthusiasm.

I was 7 yards right of the pin, slightly downhill. Now this is a terrifying hole to hit downhill on. I missed to 1.5 yards out and then just missed the hole for par. Made it coming back for bogey. Honestly, glad the ball didn’t roll all the way away.

Hole 4

Most of the holes at emerald isle are narrow and this one is no different. It’s an uphill, 100-120 yards to a hidden pin. There’s OB right and OB left. The green is LOOOONG and protected left and right by two bunkers in the front.

My plan was to hit it at the front of the green with my pitching wedge, since that goes about 100 yards.

Instead, I hit my pitching wedge thin and short, about 80 yards, right into the bunker. I’m pretty decent from the sand so I hit my sand wedge out. The shot ran to about 10 yards long but the putt was pretty straight. Using Don’s new putting method, I lined it up and hit it to about 3 inches short. Easy in for a bogey.

Hole 5

This is another narrow par 3: the left side of the hole opens into another fairway, but the right side is out of bounds. The hole is fairly long, about 130 to 150, with a bunker guarded by a tree guarding the left side. On the right side, I should mention, is out of bounds.

My plan was to hit 8 iron short of the bunker and then pitch it on. Instead, since we were  playing up a little but and I shot the pin at about 120 yards, I hit 8 iron. I was pin high on the green, left of the pin. A 7 yard putt finished within 6 inches for a par. Woot.

Hole 6

Yet another narrow par 3, further narrowed by a series of thin trees that protect the tee box of 14. To the right, more tree and out of bounds.

This hole is a bit shorter than the previous one, but uphil. The green is almost always hard as a rock.

I had a decent pitching wedge swing that landed on the front of the green and bounced right, into the cart path. The lie I had was pretty terrible in some ice plant, right next to the OB stakes … as in, in the out of bounds area.

Technically, I should have taken my drop for my 4th shot in the fairway, but I decided to treat the OB like a hazard since it was right there!

Played the ball out of the iceplant into the cart path and then dropped from the cartpath onto the fairway, 10y from the pin. I putted it to within 1 yard and made it.

So that’s a bogey. Should it be a double-bogey? I don’t want it to be.

Hole 7 at Emerald Isle: a narrow fairway leading to a green.

I hit at the big tree framed by the two smaller trees on the left. I thought I was aiming at the rock in the middle of the fairway.

Hole 7

If this were a true executive course, this would be a tremendously challenging par 3. It’s like 240 yards to the pin from the tee box. It’s downhill, which helps, but it’s also guarded right by trees and out of bounds (with a helpful sign about how you can slice it into the street). To the left, it’s pretty open. Well, there are a few trees but one is really small and not quite in play. The other is like 160 yards out. After that 160 yard hole, there is a pond.

My plan lately has been to not try to screw up on this hole. 8 iron or pitching wedge (PW) on the tee and then pitch it on the front of the green. Missing short is better than missing long, because if you go long, you go out of bounds and it is very upsetting. Oh and the green slopes ever so slightly toward the out of bounds. So if you miss long or miss right, you go out of bounds.

Have I mentioned out of bounds enough?

Anyway, i hit a very lovely 8 iron but, unfortunately, aimed a bit too far left. Like at the tree that is right in front of the pond 160 yards out.

Now I have hit my 8 iron well before. I have hit my 8 iron 180 yards before. Naturally, this is what I did here.

I found my ball in the drainage area behind the tree. It was on some sticks and mud, resting on the concrete of the drainage ditch.

I took this as an unplayable lie and took the opportunity to drop my ball in a flat area further back. I think I was okay with my rules interpretation here: unmarked drainage ditches are lateral hazards, which mean that I did hit my ball into the hazard, and so was permitted to drop within 2 club lengths of the point at which the ball entered hazard, no nearer to the hole.

I dropped and hit a punch shot PW over my helpful playing partner’s cart and up to the front of the green. I was 32 yards from the hole but — not too far way. I hit my trusty 32 yard putt with a texas wedge and got the ball to about 7 yards out. 7 yard putt closed to 1.5 yards short which I then made.

Counting up the strokes thats:

  1. Off the tee
  2. Drop
  3. PW to fringe
  4. Putter to 7 yards
  5. 7 yard putt
  6. 1.5 yard putt made.

A double bogey.

Hole 8 

This is a short par 3 with, you guessed, out of bounds right. There’s also OB behind the hole. The green is protected in front by a large swale that ends in a bunker guarding the green front left. The best miss is left which … means you sometimes have a chip to a downhill surface which means you usually have two chips because your first one rolls off the green.

My plan has been to miss into the bunker which is something I’ve never successfully done but I hear is all the rage. I aimed my PW at the top of the bunker.

This time i hit my pitching wedge very flush over the bunker. Unfortunately, it got caught in the rough behind the hole and didn’t roll back down.

So I had a 10 yard downhill putt from the fringe. I hit it very gingerly and the ball took off. Like I hit the putt to go about 1 yard to get to the green and i hit it about 2 feet.

Fortunately, I had the right read: the ball just stopped some six inches from the hole. In for par 🙂

Hole 9

Hole 9 is another very challenging hole. It is very uphill and over a lake. There is a large backstop behind the hole but there green slopes down and away, toward that drainage ditch into which I hit on hole 7. There are trees left and right which aren’t actually the worst aiming point.

My plan was to hit an 8 iron with a little bit of an easier swing. Trying to punch the ball up so that it would at least go 100 yards and get over the lake. The top of the green was something like 118 yards out and the pin was at 125. It was playing more like 130. That’s my 8 iron.

So I hit my 8 iron absolutely wonderfully. The ball was pin high, 7 yards to the right of the flag. That did, unfortunately, leave me with a very challenging right to left downhill breaker.

I aimed two feet right of the hole and went for it. The putt lipped out to 1.5 yards. I then missed the 1.5 yarder and finally tapped it in.

A three-putt bogey. But I’ll take it.

Front 9

So I didn’t do this at the time which may have contributed to my success: I didn’t add up my score on the front 9.

Had I done so, i would have seen that I had 39 strokes, which was my best score ever on this course by like 4 strokes. On a front nine, it is my second-best score ever.

I had 17 putts on 9 greens, of which I’d hit 3 in regulation. Considering that I’d used the putter on 22 of my 36 swings … i cannot really say how strange this is to write. I had fewer than 40 strokes. On 9 holes, I only had swings with my “not putter” 14 times.

I had 10 tee shots, of which all but 2 “worked.” 17 putts, even, was an accomplishment — I was averaging fewer than 2 shots.

It was also at this point that lunch arrived. I had a bratwurst, my older daughter a hot dog, and my youngest a grilled cheese.

This was also the time that I remembered my goal of praying with my children. Accomplished!

Hole 10

Hole 10 has been a challenging hole for me in the past. There’s a very small water hazard in front of the tee box. The green is like a kidney, with a large bunker for a … ureter? Bladder?

This time, the pin was set back right, which meant you had to go over the bunker.

My plan was to hit a pitching wedge to ward the the front right of the green and then figure it out later.

I abandoned my plan. I decided to hit 8 iron (which wasn’t a bad mistake) and that I would “hit a fade.”

Hitting a fade means that I’d have a little control over my shot shape. The ball would have a gentle spin to move away from me, toward the pin that was at the top of the kidney.

Why did I do this? I mean, technically I did hit a fade. The ball ran off the club very far to the right. It ended up over by hole 8 which was 130 yards away … and 50 yards off where I was aiming at. When I got to the ball, it was mostly behind a tree. I had a very small window to get to the green.

I punched out my SW and very nearly got past the tree. Fortunately, it was very nearly past the tree so the ball went much closer to the green.

Unfortunately, I was short-sided and that is a tough place to be. So I decided to hit a floppy SW.

It was a great shot! I was about a yard out and made the shot for a bogey.

Hole 11

Hole 11 is a very short par 3, more of what you’d think about with an executive course. It’s slightly uphill with a max distance of about 86 yards to a very deep green. There’s a water feature in front of the green and out of bounds at about 90 yards.

The tee was really far up so i pivoted from a pitching wedge to a sand wedge. I hit it pin high, about 7 yards out. I tapped it in for par and then ran to help my daughters in the bathroom.

Hole 12

Bathroom completed, I met my playing partners on the tee for hole 12. 

I wrote from this hole on the wrong hole in my diary but I remember what happened. This is a hole where it has a two-tier green. OB is right and left are some other holes so missing left and long is okay. There’s also a drainage ditch in the middle of the fairway.

My plan was to hit a pitching wedge to keep it short and then chip it onto the green, getting it close enough to allow for a bogey — which I rarely seem to do on this hole. I always seem to miss long and miss to the wrong part of the two tier green.

Anyway, this time I smoked a pitching wedge to the back of the green, maybe 100 yards long and a flight of … three inches off the ground? Fortunately, I had enough top spin that the ball made it over the ditch onto the back fringe. I was about 7 yards out and putted it to within a yard. Then I made that for par.

For those of you keeping score at home: that was my first top of the round — and it worked out fine. I mean, I was hoping to have no tops in the round, but I’ll take a top from 110 yards out that goes 115 or so.

Hole 13

Hole 13 is another short hole with a distinctive feature: the green is guarded by a MASSIVE bunker. I usually will shoot the bunker with my range finder and then promptly hit it into the very top of the bunker to cause me 3 shots to get out of the bunker.

Instead, this time, I shot the bunker and hit my sand wedge 1 yard further than the bunker — and very well right of the bunker. That left me a 13y chip that I left 3 yards short. Missed the 3y putt low and then made it for a bogey.

Hole 14

This is a fairly long, uphill par 3, about 134 yards to the pin from the tips. I’ve played it before, though, when it’s been about 160 yards.

Front left is guarded by a bunker and a subterranean beehive? (No joke but it’s only a threat if you’re, like, really bad and have trouble with solid contact). Right is guarded by being houses and out of bounds.

My plan was to hit an 8 iron with an easy swing to keep out of bounds out of play. Instead, I decided to hit a 7 iron for reasons that I don’t really remember. There was some talking in my backswing which I shall choose to blame my shank on, instead of general incompetence and the nagging sensibility that I WAS DEVIATING FROM THE PLAN AGAIN!

The shank still left my about 40 yards out in the rough. So I hit my sand wedge … 30 yards, where the ball just died on the fringe, leaving me on the green but 10 yards from the hole.

It looked pretty straight so I lined up the putt and drained it from 10.2 yards away.

That is the longest putt I have made in a very long time.

Hole 15

Hole 15 is the another challenging par 3 that’d be tough on just about any course. It’s 160 yards from the blue tees, downhill, over a pond that is at least 120 yards to carry. The green is pretty forgiving and pretty flat and there’s a bit more distance between the green and the pond and a lot more rough.

My plan was to hit a 6 iron or whatever had worked on hole 3. So I hit an 8 iron. It was on the green, 12 yards short and right of the pin. I putted up to 1.5 yards out and made the 1.5 yard putt for another par.

Hole 16

This is the last hard hole on the course. It’s a very short par 3, elevated tee over a pond. The green falls off pretty intensely downhill toward a massive bunker that collects shots that don’t stick to the green.

Oh and there’s a water hazard but that’s only in play if you tend to top the ball. OB is of course behind the green but you only have to worry about that if you’re, like, a normal player and mix up a 6 and a 9 iron.

Since we were playing the white tees, I hit my pitching wedge. I hit it a little short and a little right, just to the fringe.

Unfortunately, it was not the right place to miss: I had to go up about a foot in green in about 2 feet of green, followed by a more gradual uphill pace for the rest of the green. The pin was in the middle of the green.

13y putt chip that I pushed a little long and a little high. That left me 2 yards out, downhill which I just missed: the putt lipped out. Made the comeback though.

Hole 17

Hole 17 is an easy hole. My friend Jimmy told me that he has a friend who only hits putter on the hole. It is a very downhill, very short hole. The driving range and its net are to the right. There’s a huge hill behind the hole. And there’s a bunker left with a lateral hazard (17’s pond) but honestly, you’d have to hook it pretty good to get it into the water and even then, you’d have to be really bad to do that.

I always screw up this hole. It’s like 90 yards if the pin is in the back and the tees are up against the iceplant. But I always seem to chunk it because it’s so short.

My plan was to hit a sand wedge and have that go all the way to the green. Unfortunately, I didn’t really stop to think. My sand wedge shot was going 60 yards. The green this day was about 80 yards away. So even if I hit it perfect, which I did, I would still have 20 yards to the green.

So a good swing was stolen from me by poor club selection. I should have hit the same shot with a pitching wedge.

I had about 20 yards to the green and was in a little rough. I didn’t think I could get my putter there with any consistency, so I hit sand wedge again. Unfortunately, I missed my landing area by about 6 inches. So instead of the ball rolling lazily onto the green, my ball stopped on the fringe we’ll say 10 yards away.

I had a great putt to 1 yard out which i made for bogey.

Hole 18

Hole 18 is a straight, flat version of hole 17. There’s a bunker right instead of a bunker left and there’s a pretty serious slope to the right heading into the driving range (protected by a net).

Left is the first tee box, the queue for the first tee box, the putting green, and the parking lot.

My plan was to hit my sand wedge. I think I did hit the sand wedge but I took no notes on this hole. I do know I ended up pin high on the green but a little right. I think I just missed the putt of about 5 yards about 2 inches short. So I tapped in for a par which was a nice way to end a round that I was pretty sure was pretty good.

Back 9

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed is that the holes where I’ve done poorly tend to have a bit more written about them than the holes where I’ve been successful. I suppose it’s because those are the holes where the hole story is: I made a plan, I had a plan, I did the plan.

So, I would hope that you’ve been able to follow along with a trend on the back nine — and that trend is: no double bogeys. Not only no double bogeys, but not even the hint of a double bogey. The only hole where that was conceivable on was hole 10 where I had an heroic chip shot and hole 14, where I made an heroic putt.

This just in: you score well when you don’t double bogey!

5 pars, 4 bogeys for +4!!!! That’s a 31 which is my best score ever by a pretty significant margin: +7 was my best previously.

So that’s +14 which is my best round ever, by 3 strokes. I shot a 70 total, which, with a little luck, could have been in the 60s. Granted that it’s the 60s on a very short executive course with some generous par 4s.

My goal before the round: how’d I do?

Pray before the roundAccomplished on hole 10!
Smooth swingYes?
Make a birdieGood chance on 5, 8, 9, 11, 18 
No triplesAccomplished!

The other stats:

Overall, I had 28 non-putter swings, 39 putter swings, and 32 putts total. (it looks like I missed one stroke in there in my counting). Of those, I had 50 good shots! You may be interested to know that this is the best I’ve done since I began tracking.

Overall, my tee shots were pretty good: I only had to rehit one and I only had a few that put me in a bunch of trouble (hole 1, hole 2 (obviously), hole 6, hole 7, hole 10). Even the shank didn’t hurt me that bad. Also, only had one top on, what, 28 full swings? That’s great!

My pitching and chipping was okay, but my putting really pulled it through. I only missed 3 putts of less than 2 yards (16 of 19 total) and one of them lipped out and the other was after lipping out a birdie putt.

What were my best strokes? I think the 15 yard chip on hole 2 really brought back some confidence, as did the 2.5 yard make. Then the tee shot on 3, the 10y putt on 4, and the excellent play on 5 really restored confidence.

Putting on 6, on 8, and even on 9 helped a lot (as did the great tee shot on 9). My flop shot on 10 would have been the shot of the round if it hadn’t been for the putt on 14. Hole 11 was also really good, considering I was rushing to get my kids to the bathroom. Overall, there were so many good shots and the bad shots managed to be minimally damaging.

Golf is fun when you’re playing well. I guess those lessons paid off already!

One thought on “Emerald Isle on June 11, 2021

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