Freedom from the house: Early Morning at Emerald Isle on 2/6

So this was an early morning round, solo, playing before getting groceries for the week.

I woke up late and didn’t get out of the house in time to warm up more than a cursory way. I had 5 swings in my backyard and then three putts at the course.

My goal was just to have fun and enjoy being out of the house for the first time in 3 weeks. We all got Covid, see?

I was the third wheel (well, fourth wheel) on a weekly Sunday morning game between twins and their cousin. The first tee was trouble for two players, as much as it usually is for me. So when I stepped up with my 9 iron I was … well, skeptical that I’d have success. I seem to mishit the first tee shot, no matter what I do.

This time was different. I hit an excellent 9 iron, with a slight draw (somehow that stuck around), and the ball was … on the green? It was, you know, just 80 feet from the hole. I should have hit an 8 iron and had debated. But on the green is better than off the green – and I actually hit the ball the well on the first hole?

So despite the length of the putt I somehow got it really, really close. Like 7 feet or so. However, that’s still a long distance but an 80-foot three-putt isn’t bad.

Instead, I just .. duffed it. I put the putt to 4 feet, very short. Then I missed the 4-footer and finally tapped it in for a 4-putt double bogey on a GIR.

Great start.

The next hole is a short par 4 (really, a par 3 on other course). I was planning on hitting 6 iron because there was a change I could hold the green. Instead, I shanked it.

Just a cold shank into the scrub right – but at least I could see my ball.

Unfortunately, it was held up by a stick. Instead of hitting it, I moved the stick and the ball moved too, which is, I think, a 1-stroke penalty? That’s how I counted it, anyway.

The ball was not in a particularly good location – barely inbounds behind a tree and under a tree. So I punched it out and the ball stopped on the one tuft of grass between the cart path and the fairway. Fortunately, that was a clear shot to the hole, so clear that I thinned my lob wedge that was supposed to go 60 yards — about 90.

That wasn’t a huge problem, just … well over the green. I had an excellent, just excellent, chip onto the green from the rough, leaving about 3 yards. Which I then missed very, very long, leaving 4 feet back to the pin.

This time, I made the 4 footer. Woot.

Another issue was that, for this entire hole, I was struggling with Arcos trying to add strokes to hole 1. I think I got to a +8 before I realized that I needed to move them all to hole 2. Nice.

Hole 3 is a bug bear, at all times and for all players. Not only is it over the water, but the green slopes heavily forward.

This time, I hit an excellent 8 iron that landed long of the hole, skipped forward, and then rolled back, down, past the hole, past the fringe of the green and off the front.

At least I hit the green?

But I wasn’t in the water. I got it on the green to 8 feet away from the pin and promptly and carefully three-putted.

That was disappointing: the first stroke wasn’t the best contact, and then the second shot slid out. So the last putt was a mercy more than anything else.

Hole 4 is another habitual failure point, but not for any specific reason: it’s narrow and uphill but … that’s not why you shank it.

I got some feedback from my enthusiastic playing partner who had hilariously trash talked his cousin’s ball into the water. He told me that it was a long green, which I appreciated, even though I had played the hole before.

I didn’t say that. His brother told him that with the chagrin that only a brother can.

I hit an excellent pitching wedge up onto the green, the best (again) of all my playing partners.

I was pin high, 17 feet left of the hole. Easy putt close and tapped in for a par (although I was definitely thinking birdie).

Interesting note, as I walked away from the hole, I noticed that my footsteps were crunching on the grass – because of the frost.

Hole 5 I took my honors and teed off, only to realize after my beautiful 9 iron tee shot that drew toward the bunker and had a great bounce right to the green – was from the wrong tee box. Oops.

I had another 17 foot putt that I missed close – and then missed the par putt. Definitely got ahead of myself for a 3-putt bogey.

Hole 6 is a little shorter, with another long green. I hit a good pitching wedge that drew again and, when I got up to the ball, just stopped. No roll out which was a bit frustrating. I was like 30 yards away from the back pin position.

I did the math and had a great bump and run to 3 yards out. Missed the 9 footer but tapped in for an easy bogey.

Hole 7 I hit a chunky 6 iron off the tee which drew back into the center of the fairway. Or at least, it appeared to be doing that – but when I went to look for my ball, it was just on the edge of the cart path going down the hill to OB. What a terrible bounce.

I realize now that I should have taken relief from the cart path and moved into the fairway but I didn’t think about that at the time. I hit a chunk 8 iron bump and run which was basically a sand shot that left me about 50 yards from the pin. I bumped and ran my pitching wedge, which stopped pin high but 20 feet right of the pin. I putted close and in for a bogey, which was a good recovery.

Hole 8 was a short one that I hit a little long and left, but on the green, again. Unfortunately, this meant I had a long, downhill putt. I missed long, on purpose, but not super great – about 1.7 yards from the pin. I missed the 5 footer for another 3-putt bogey. Blergh.

Hole 9 I hit a 9 iron that drew right to the middle of the green. When I went to find the ball, I saw that I was about 1 foot from the pin position a couple of days ago. As it was, I had an uphill 20 footer which was kind of what I wanted – or at least I thought.

But … then my ball died about a foot from the pin and then rolled down to 7 feet away. So I tried again and consciously putted past the pin – and the ball rolled back to my exact same starting spot.

So I putted up again and the ball stopped on the lip. My playing partners quickly said, “that’s in!” and I took it. But then the ball rolled back down.

So i took the concession for a bogey (which is some creative scoring from me, I must say) and then had two more tries to finally bury the 7 footer for what would have been a 5-putt triple bogey.

That was a good set of tee shots on the front 9: 8 were good; 1 was bad.

My approach shots on the par 4s were also bad, because i was in trouble from the tee shot. So I had 3 approach shots when I’d expect 2.

Chipping was good, if only because I hit 5 greens. On the holes where I didn’t hit the green, I only had 4 chips. And those 4 chips left me 3 yards out, 3 times and then a 7 yarder. Not necessarily easy to get up and down but better than worse.

Putting was my downfall. The four-putt on hole 1 really hurt, as did the 4 3-putts. I had 24 total and 16 were from under 9 feet. Oof.

Starting the back 9 after an atrocious hole 9, I hit an great, drawing 8 iron aimed at the middle of the green. It was pretty long, but there’s a hill left and behind green, which I hit to see my shot roll back to 29 feet away on the green. Realistically, I hit the the ball around 140 to 150 but that was a good miss.

Anyway, you know what to expect here. I had a decent length putt but misaimed it, leaving me 7 feet uphill. Nervous from the terrible result on the previous hole, I gave my ball enough juice to just stop right in front of the hole for another 3-putt bogey.

Hole 11 is a short hill with a tee box that looks like a gophers playground. I honestly don’t know how they would repair it given its location but I am not a discount golf course superintendent.

I hit my lob wedge, well, and onto the green. It was 13 feet away and I, wouldn’t you know it, botched the putt.

I didn’t give it enough to get to the hole and then the 4 foot second putt just died right on the lip for another 3 putt bogey.

Hole 12 was playing pretty long, but I decided to hit pitching wedge so that I wouldn’t go over the back of the green.

Instead, I hit the green and the ball bounced off the green and over the back. Into the rough but it at least didn’t go over the cart path.

I hit an excellent lob wedge chip from the rough: I thought about hitting sand wedge or hitting some kind of pitching wedge bump and run but then I thought: “Don’t get cute. Just get it on the green.”

So I looked at the back of the ball (as I’ve been doing) and used the bounce to get under the ball. Popped it up and onto the green and it rolled and rolled and rolled right to the pin about a yard away.

Finished that for a par which felt really good.

Hole 13 is a hole with a potential to be a disaster, considering the deep and enormous bunker that guards the green.

It’s short and I hit a great lob wedge that ended up on the green, 4 yards long of the hole.

It was a downhill putt that I blasted past the hole, trying to make a birdie. That left me 5 feet coming back which I missed, literally one more revolution from falling. Oh well.

That’s another 3-putt bogey.

On hole 14, I hit a 9 iron with a nice draw to the middle of the green. That left me about 9 yards from the pin, but I had an excellent lag putt to 2 feet. And then i promptly missed the two-footer which felt just as good as you’d expect.

Made the tap in.

Hole 15 is a bit of a walk from hole 14 so, despite my leading bogey, I was last to tee off on hole 15. I promptly chunked it into the water (I could see the ball but left it there since people were teeing off on 3) and reeteed a huge draw long and left of the green with my 8 iron.

I hit an absolutely excellent 4th shot from the rough that rolled out to 4 feet – which I promptly missed for a triple bogey. Hooray again.

Hole 16 I used my pitching wedge since I was hitting it pretty well and 9 iron would be way too long.

I hit a great shot, literally right at the pin. My ball hit about 1 yard from the hole and stopped – and then squirted back off the front of the green.

That meant and 11 yard chip shot on that I hit will, leaving 2 yards to the pin.

As you might expect, I missed that and then tapped in for bogey.

Hole 17 is a hole I have not yet figured out. I think next time I am going to chip an 8 iron on because … well this time I did what I do every time and I chunked it. Again.

The ball was in the rough about 40 yards from the pin and I hit a great great flop shot that left me about 4 yards from the pin.

I putted it to about a foot – and missed the 1 footer. Sigh.

Time for hole 18. I was reminded at how much this course backs up on the first 3 holes when there was a line of 5 golf carts waiting to tee off.

I hit a great tee shot with my sand wedge (the first good, full sand wedge shot I’ve hit in a month, apparently) that hit the hill right (because of my draw) and kicked right, onto the green. That left me a 5-yarder which I blew past the hole to 4 feet.

You can guess what happened here: I missed the 4 footer. And made another 3 putt bogey.

So that was another good 9 off the tee. Only 1 error on hole 15.

Chipping was also excellent: I hit 5 greens, so I needed 4 chip shots. And those chip shots left me a total distance of 9 yards to the pin which is great.

The issue was putting. It was, somehow, 1 stroke better than on the front – with a 1-putt too. The issue was short putts, again: I had 17 at 7 feet or under. I made exactly 1 on the first try.

I remember feeling annoyed that I was missing these putts but I didn’t feel bad about myself. It was more like: well, that is certainly not working. I blame, 100%, the fact that I hit 3 putts total. That was certainly the issue more than anything else.

But the annoyance was overridden by the joy at doing something I enjoyed.

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