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Emerald Isle on 11/22

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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.

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