I went to Oceanside Muni on my observed New Year’s Day: Monday, January 3. I went later in the morning which proved to be a bit of a mistake: the range was closed and the course was starting to fill up.
I got paired with three retired guys, one from Massachusetts, and two locals. The two local dudes had played together before (but weren’t necessarily friends). But they didn’t mock me for playing the gold tees.
I didn’t have any special goals going into the round. My biggest was I was going to try to get it on the green in one shot, each time. Oh and I wanted to make all short putts.
I’m writing this about 2 weeks later so there are certainly some details I will miss.
Hole 1 started off really well: I hit an excellent 6 iron to the middle of the fairway. It got around the dogleg and was about 170.
I was about 150 from the center of the green so I swung … and topped the ball with my 7 iron.
Fortunately, it was a good top: the ball had tons of top spin and rolled out to the distance I’d hoped, about 150 yards. Didn’t hit the green but, you know, all good.
I chipped on with my putter to a decent distance, around 7 to 8 feet. That’s not bad and I refused to feel bad that it didn’t mean an easy up and down par. As it was, I two-putted for bogey, giving me a new record on that hole.
Hole 2 we were slightly delayed by the group playing front of us. 3 women, I have a feeling I would have had a better time playing with them than the men I played with. It wasn’t that they were slow but … apparently they were regulars who play together. There was certainly some latent sexism on display about how terrible it was to play with women.
So I probably would have done better with them is all I was saying.
Anyway, after a long wait, I decided to hit 3 wood on hole 2. My thought process was that a well struck ball would give me about 100 yards out. A poorly struck shot would have tons of room right.
Unfortunately, I hit my 3 wood right into the tree that borders the right side of the fairway. That wasn’t the worst thing, as the tree definitely saved me from going into the not grass.
I ended up in the fairway with a 142 yard shot – so basically as if I had hit an 8 iron off the tee. I took my 8 iron and hit it toward the green.
I absolutely crushed the ball. It hit at the front for the green and then rolled out to pin high. I hit my 8 iron nearly 160 yards, with a slight draw. My ball was 7 yards off the green, but it was a downhill shot, so I was careful. I got it on, to 7 feet out, and then I … had a lot of trouble getting into the hole. I tried to make the 7 footer instead of being happy with a bogey. That meant I left a lot of meat on the bone with putt two, about a yard.
Normally that’s no problem but that was an issue this time. I missed the putt at least gave myself an option coming back.
Double bogey. So far, I was on a record pace: 2 strokes better than any previous round.
Ironically, before this hole, after being complimented on my swing, I had mentioned something about how good I was at putting. Me and my big mouth.
I know one of the players was, at this point, annoyed with me playing the yellow tees. “With a swing like that, you shouldn’t be playing from there.”
He was also having some early round problems which I think explains his bitterness.
Hole 3 was another where we had to wait for a while. The green on this hole is really really sloped, and so Phil, the best player of all of us, mentioned that we wanted to be short.
So I hit my 7 iron, nice and pure and short. That left me 12 yards from the green. So, you know, if I’d hit 6 iron, I’d have been on the front of the green.
I was 12 yards from a very sloped, very shortsided green. So this guy’s advice was good for hitting the competent but I … should not have listened and just gone center of the green.
I decided to putt from the fringe and didn’t give myself enough juice to get through the fairway to the green. Thinking about it now, I was certainly trying to make it, not get it close. Had I been thinking more creatively, I should have just putted onto the green, as best I could. The ball would probably roll back down the green toward the hole.
Anyway, I missed my chip putt leaving me like a yard from the hole, but still off the green. I then missed that 1 yard putt chip, very tentatively, leaving me a yard from the hole.
Promptly missed that putt so another double bogey. With 3 shots from within a yard of the hole.
Hole 4 is a par 5 and I have actually done pretty well on it. This time, I hit 3 wood off the tee and crushed it, 200 yards, through the fairway.
I hit my 8 iron from the rough, back into the fairway, leaving me 80 yards out with sand wedge. Unfortunately, I was next to Negative Nelly from Massachusetts, with whom I was equal on the 3rd shot (to his chagrin since, you know, he’d been playing from the white tees). He went long of the green, I thinned my sand wedge short and right, right into one of the sand traps that protects the green.
He then chipped in for birdie. Meanwhile, I pitched out of the sand to 10 feet from the green. I two-putted for an easy bogey, just focusing on getting my putt close to the hole.
Still on a very good pace through 4 holes. A net +1.
Hole 5 was one where we were again waiting. A long par 3, we rolled up right after the group of ladies teed off. They finished pretty quickly but there was still grousing.
On the tee, my playing partners also mentioned some weird stuff about media narratives and so forth. They asked what I did, I told them I worked for Qualcomm, and I explained that the 5G isn’t going to fry your brain because … it is a wavelength blocked by human skin.
After that, I hit a 6 iron 154 yards to the green.
I was 42 feet from the pin, but I had an excellent lag putt, just getting close to within 1 yard. And then I … missed the 1 yarder and made the 1 yarder coming back. Nice.
Hole 6 is an easy hole but I didn’t learn my lessons from previous experience. Instead of hitting a short iron off the tee and giving a comfortable lie and easy shot into the green, I hit 6 iron and tried to cut the corner.
The result was a mis-aimed draw that ran through the fairway into the hardpan bordering the OB line to hole 4’s fairway.
I had a clean line to the hole, however, and was able to hit a decent 9 iron that faded slightly and just stopped on the fringe of the green, in between the green and the bunker. But not in the bunker.
Honestly, that was an excellent result considering the lie I had. I wasn’t in the bunker and I was close to the green.
My chipped putt was excellent, funneling down to the hole and ending up 4 feet away from the hole. I promptly missed that footer, not reading my playing partners’ breaks at all, and then, mercifully, was conceded the 1 footer.
You bet your ass that I was thinking birdie on the freaking tee shot. Then par on the chip.
Too many expectations.
Hole 7 is the hardest hole on the course. The bad news is that I’ve bogeyed it the last 2 times I played because I took it very seriously.
This time, I had the best tee shot of my playing partners: a 9 iron, right in the middle of the fairway.
This led me to a pivotal moment: I was 200 yards from the green. I pulled my 3 wood and … topped it into the water, into the lateral hazard that protects the dogleg left.
That was very stupid. Berating myself, I hit a 6 iron and sliced it off the fairway into the hardpan dirt very right of green. I didn’t aim the shot at all, either. Just swung and screwed up.
That left me 50 yards from the green. It was a terrible lie and I hit, honestly, a decent sand wedge but it ran out very long. That left me 18 yards long of the green, with a putt to a terrible pin placement, which was in between the top level and bottom level.
Honestly, I should have tried to miss downhill to give me an uphill putt. Instead, I putted to an 8 yard downhill putt that I missed to 1 yard.
Then I missed that 1 yarder all the way down the hill to 5 yards out. I putted back up and in for a 4-putted 11. Blargh.
Obviously what I could have done differently here was: 1. Don’t hit 3 wood. 2. Miss well downhill to give a decent three-putt, two-putt chance.
Hole 8 is a pretty wide open par 5. I decided to hit 3 wood and it was a bad choice: I overswung and topped it 40 yards into the dirt hardpan.
6 iron rescued me from the hardpan into the fairway. Then 7 iron got me into the fairway about 110 out from the hole.
I hit 9 iron for a reason I don’t really know and hit a fade to the right of the green.
That left a really, really long putt chip which I just blasted over the hole on the green.
I then chipped it close, leaving me a four footer – which I missed. In for an 8. Hooray.
I remember feeling pretty frustrated after hole 8. I had to have a pep talk with myself which had moderate success.
Anyway, hole 9 i hit a 6 iron off the tee that didn’t go long enough. I had a narrow window toward the right side of the green, about 150 away, but there was a tree blocking the majority of my approach.
Worse, the tree was going to collect any shot that wasn’t a lob wedge or sand wedge shot. But I thought I could hit the rightish area of the green with my 7 iron and … promptly hit the tree. The shot was screaming on the perfect line too.
So instead of putting for birdie I was underneath a tree. I punched out into the fairway with my pitching wedge, about 100 yards, leaving me about 30 yards from the hole. I hit an excellent lob wedge shot that almost hit the pin but rolled out to leave me 26 feet or so for bogey.
I had the mindset of “get it close” and, instead, I just flat-out made the putt. Go figure.
So that was a rough front 9. I made a 54, courtesy of the blow-up on hole 7 and, of course, the terrible short putting.
I had 7 of 9 good tee shots, hitting 6 fairways and 1 green. I also had 14 approach shots, which was pretty good considering I would expect to have 9 (you know, if I were competent). Chipping was also not terrible: 9 chips on 8 holes.
Putting was the issue: 21 putts on 9 holes is pretty terrible. I remember not feeling particularly composed when putting. Very aimless.
Hole 10 I decided to hit driver. Pros: it was pretty much wide open. Cons: I hit a slice into the hardpan right.
I hit a chunky 6 iron from the hardpan onto the fairway, certainly within striking distance, about 120 or so yards from the center of the green.
That’s a pitching wedge, so I hit a good one, around 110 yards. That left me a long uphill putt (like over 50 feet) for par. I gave it a good stroke, getting to 7 feet, which is a tough distance. I got it fairly close and my playing partners asked me to pick it up. So that’s a 6 (because I definitely missed the conceded putt).
Hole 11 is a short par 3 that’s slightly downhill, I think. I had a good 8 iron off the tee that faded around the bunker, on the green. That felt really good.
Second GIR of the round and a significantly shorter putt: still 33 feet for birdie but better than 42 feet for birdie. I had what I thought was a good putt, but unfortunately, it took a weird, weird bounce and ran off to the right. Pin high, but 7 feet away from the pin. I missed the 7 footer really close, leaving a bogey.
Bogey’s a net par, so I’m taking it.
Hole 12 is super-duper uphill. I had the benefit of being maybe 80 yards shorter than my playing partners by virtue of my tee box. I hit 6 iron off the tee, a beautiful shot into the fairway.
This left me about 50 yards from the pin. Arcoss told me it was the equivalent of something like 80 yards, but the pin was very in the front.
But I listened to the Arcoss and hit very long of the green, very thin with my pitching wedge. I was certainly influenced by my playing partners, all of whom were short.
The ball was 16 yards away from the hole, but in a puttable lie. I decided I would just putt it on and hit an excellent shot to 7 feet from the hole. Naturally, I completely missed that putt but it was a good miss, to 2 feet. Then i missed the 2-footer.
Knocked it in for a 6. Always great to 3-putt.
Hole 13 is very short and a very downhill par 3. I decided to hit SW off the tee and … chunked it. Ugh.
Fortunately, this is the right hole to chunk as the ball ran all the way down the hill. Unfortunately, I was in a mess of dirt and sticks – probably the worst lie of the round.
I pitched it out with my LW but I was aimed RIGHT at the bunker right of the green. The ball was buried, short-sided, in the pot bunker.
So I grabbed my lob wedge and made an excellent sand shot. I got it onto the green, over the lip, and gave myself an uphill putt, which was nearly going to be impossible. So I had a great play there.
16-foot putt uphill nearly went in, leaving to an easy double bogey – where I didn’t miss the short putt. Finally.
Obviously, this was about 2 strokes more than I’d hoped off the tee.
Hole 14 has always been a rough par 5 for me. It’s pretty long, with water all up the right side.
I decided to hit 3 wood, because I was optimistic, and it was a poor shot. At least it got into the air, honestly, but the ball sliced right, toward the hazard. Fortunately, I could see it come to rest right near the hazard.
The ball was absolutely buried — but at least it was on grass. I hit a heroic 8 iron out of that muck and got the ball back into the fairway. That left me about 200 yards out and I hit a decent, but not good, 6 iron that faded a bit.
That left me about 40 yards from the pin, over a bunker. I hit an excellent lob wedge shot that left me a 14 foot putt. I putted it close and then putted it in.
Hole 15 is a wide-open, long par 4. I decided to hit my driver off the tee because a top would end up in the fairway, a slice would end up in the fairway (because I was aimed down the left side), and … well, I wanted to give it a try.
It was my best drive of the round, over 200 yards, and gave me a glimpse of what a driver can do for me.
That left me about 140 from the front pin position, which is my 8 iron distance. Realistically, I probably should have hit 7 iron to ensure I got there, but I majorly overswung and hit a chunky 8 iron. However, it was short, which was where I had wanted to miss.
Unfortunately, I hit my pitched LW to the shortsided front pin position about half the distance it needed to go. I was expecting a roll out and instead the ball just died on the front of the green.
So another chip on, this one excellent, to 1 yard away.
Did I make the 1 yarder? No. but I made the next one. Double-bogey which was disappointing since, once again, I’d been thinking par or birdie on shot 2. Ugh.
At this point, I was slightly behind pace: 87 strokes through 15 holes. However, I knew I wasn’t going to break 100 this day – the 10 on hole 7 prevented that.
Hole 16 is something of a bugbear for me: according to my scoring, this is the most challenging hole on the course and I’m not really sure why. It’s a decently long par 4, but (checks scorecard) it’s apparently the second-hardest hole on the course.
Anyway, excited by my drive on hole 15, I decided to replicate that success on hole 16. I then topped the ball off the tee about 25 yards. I decided to hit another (because I didn’t learn my lesson from St. Mark’s after Christmas) and sliced it into the hardpan right of the hole.
I didn’t see my ball down and my playing partners, thinking I’d just re-teed and given a mulligan, picked up my ball for me and wandered away from the tee.
So I counted that ball as lost and went to find my second shot.
I could not find it. So I dropped in the fairway near where it went out and hit a good 6 iron to leave me about 50 yards out – for my fifth stroke.
I was maybe 50 yards from the hole and completely punted/skulled (sic?) my pitch shot. My lob wedge went 93 yards, over the green, and into the lateral hazard behind the hole.
So I dropped back there when i couldn’t find the ball and pitched onto the green, this time the 50 yard shot going just 47 yards. Sheesh.
I had a not-good putt to 7 feet, and then I missed from 7 feet close, and finally made the 2-footer for and +7 11.
I mean, the errors here started off the tee. Losing my routine (playing my first shot) and losing the ball put me in a really bad position. Not feeling confident hitting into the green was an error but it wouldn’t have been too bad if I hadn’t hit shot 5…
I decided I’d learned my lesson. I hit 6 iron off the tee, perfect and in the fairway. Hit 6 iron again, again, perfect shot and in the fairway.
Only this one was … less perfect than I had hoped. I was behind a tree about 100 yards out of the fairway. I had to hit a low shot to get to the green. That, or shape a pitching wedge.
And this is where I listened to my playing partner, the Massachussets Mysognist who complained that I was playing from the gold tees.
He said, “just punch a 6 iron on up there.” His ball was about a yard behind mine. He executed as expected.
But there’s the issue: I hit my 6 iron as far as he hits his 3 wood (I know because I’d done that on the previous shot). But I listened to him and hit a punch shot 7 iron.
Even though earlier in the round I had hit a punch shot 100 yards by pitching wedge.
Anyway, I hit a great punch shot but it went, naturally, 144 yards.
I had 40 yards to carry to get back onto the green. I carried it back close, onto the fringe, but 20 yards from the pin.
I had a great chip putt to 2 feet, which I then made for a bogey. That was a good bounce back for me.
Out with the driver and in with the irons: on hole 18, I hit an excellent, 180 yard 6 iron off the tee. That left me about 90 to 100 yards from green, which is pitching wedge distance.
Unfortunately, I was again thinking birdie. I hit a fade, right into the bunker right of the pin. No matter: I felt confident and … just missed the shot, right into the lip.
No matter: reloaded and … hit it into the lip again. Third try, got it out, onto the green and 33 feet away. I made a 32-foot putt to leave an easy triple-bogey putt. So much for a birdie there, I guess.
The back 9 was worse than the front 9, mostly because of the 11 on hole 16.
Tee shots were poor: I had 10 and only 5 good ones. Incidentally, 4 of the good ones were with my irons (on 11, 12, 17, and 18).
Approach shots were … actually exactly what was expected? 14 approach shots, which is what I’d expect considering the extra shots I tend to have on approach (normal players would expect 9).
Chipping was also somehow good, with 9 chips on 8 holes.
So the downfall, once again, was putting: 21 putts on 9 holes. Really, the biggest issue came on those first 3 holes, with three tree putts (and, of course, 1 2-putt from 1 yard out, ugh).
So it was the tee shots and it was the putting.
Things I’ve learned:
- Remove driver from the bag
- Remove 3 wood
- You are good at hitting irons. Continue to hit irons!
- Tee on hole 1
- 8 iron approach on hole 2
- 3 wood on hole 4
- 8 iron on hole 4
- Sand shot on hole 4
- Tee shot on hole 5
- Lag putt on hole 5
- Hole 6 putt chip
- Hole 7 tee shot
- Hole 7 3rd putt
- Hole 8 6 iron
- Hole 8’s 7 iron
- Hole 8’s 2nd chip putt
- Hole 9 tee shot
- Hole 9 pitch shot
- Hole 9 putt
- Hole 10 PW approach
- Hole 11 tee shot
- Hole 12 tee shot
- Hole 13 sand shot
- Hole 14 rescue shot
- Hole 14 pitch shot over a bunker to the green
- Hole 15 driver
- Hole 16 6 iron approach shot
- Hole 17 tee shot
- Hole 17 second shot
- Hole 17 putt chip
- Hole 18 tee shot
- Hole 18 first putt
Dumb shots that cost me lots of strokes
- Chip on hole 3 – save up to 2 strokes by going for the middle of the green with the chip shot. Definitely too cute.
- 8 misses on short putts
- 3 wood over the water on 7, at least 2 strokes
- 3 wood on 8 – at least 1 stroke
- Approach on 12, Arccos cost me 1 shot, maybe 2
- Tee shot on 13, cost me 2
- Driver on 16 cost me 4
- LW on 16 cost me 2 more
- Missed punch on 17 cost me 2
- Sand on 18 cost me 2
Making all the short putts would have given me up to 8 more strokes (actually 10 because of hole 7 but we’ll go conversative with 8).
3 wood on hole 3 cost me 2 strokes. Driver on hole 16 cost me 4 strokes. That’s 6 strokes.
So that’s a very very easy 14 strokes back. Which makes sense. I had a 54 on the front with a 10 and an 8. And then a 57 on the back, with a 7 and an 11. That’s 36 strokes on 4 holes, or 23 over.
Double bogies on those four holes would have given me … 5 strokes on the front and 6 on the back. Wouldn’t you know: that’s a 100!
Golf, you cruel mistress.
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