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.

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