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