Earnest Words

Quick Nine at St. Mark’s Executive Course in January

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I decided to play a quick nine at Saint Marks executive golf course on Friday a few weeks ago. I had been cleared to play on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday (not sure I punctuated that one right) but of course it was going to rain nonstop so that wouldn’t and didn’t happen. I met my friends on hole 13. They had started at 2 o’clock and ripped through the first 9 holes in an hour and fifteen minutes. 

Friends in this case were Kev and Chason.

The round ended up being really similar to the round at Welk, with the exception that I was putting really well. I made really good contact, made shots I knew I could hit, and didn’t make too many judgement errors.

While I putted really well, if I could have had a few putts actually drop, I think I would have scored…

  • Par on hole 13
  • Par on hole 14
  • Par on hole 15
  • Par on hole 16
  • Bogey on 17 (maybe a better chip would have helped)
  • Par on 18
  • Par on 10
  • Par on 11
  • Par on 12

So really it is, as always, the short game that can make or break a score. It was really fun and made me want to try to play 9 more often.

Started on hole 13 with a decent gap wedge, a little thin, to the back of the green. I hadn’t planned on keeping score but very quickly decided to do that *after* hitting the green.

It was a long putt and I had hit nary a putt before the round. So I left the downhill putt short. Then I missed the secondary putt, I think maybe a ball short, and made the three putt. Arccoss helpfully readjusted my putt distances after the round so I have no idea how long it actually was.

(Arccoss, please stop doing this).

Oh yeah, I also tried a 25 foot putt on this hole and made it first try while we were waiting for the next tee to clear.

Hole 14 tends to be a tough one for me. For whatever reason, I always hit it into the trees and there are only like 3 trees on this hole.

This one was no different: great gap wedge that I hit perfectly … into the trees. I was aiming left side of the green!

This one ping-ponged back, leaving me like 43 yards from the pin. Since it was a sidehill lie in heavy rough and under a tree, I clubbed up to get it to the green, hitting sand wedge, even though the sand wedge is a 43 yard 50% swing club. 60 degree would have been better but I wanted to make it easy.

It was a great shot that found the green and ran out – but stayed on the green! Honestly, I was really thrilled with this shot given the difficulty. Another downhill putt but now I had speed better dialed in. Drained a 32-footer for a par and felt really good.

The next hole was longer (100 yards and uphill) so I hit pitching wedge about 90% off the tee. Aimed center of the green and pushed it a bit right. Pin high shot but right, about 29-feet.

I’m writing this after the fact and I just missed about 6 inches right. Easy tap in, which I did with some pizzaz: behind the back and between the legs. Need to practice that more but it worked this time.

That’s 4 great shots in a row.

The next hole is a 300ish yard par 4 with a blind landing zone. I decided to hit 3 wood and thinned it short to about … 130 yards. Hooray. That left me a long, 170-yard shot to the back pin position. I hit my 6 iron and hit a stinger. I thought I was aiming left but I hit the ball perfectly straight.

When I walked to the green, the ball was in the bunker left of the hole, pin high again! It was close to the lip, the bunker was shallow, so I felt really confident, even if the bunkers on this course leave a lot to be desired – such as sand.

Excellent, excellent shot from me, made unfortunately better by Chason being unable to get his ball out in 1. He aimed really far right because he was opening his club face but … my gentle suggestion that there’s a difference between opening the club face and standing perpendicular to the hole was … ignored and unappreciated (can you imagine that!?”). He did get it out the second time.

Ball rolled onto the green, leaving me an 11 foot uphill putt for par.

Unfortunately, the value of a sandy par was too much and I blasted the 11 footer past the hole to 4 feet long. Missed the 4 footer 1 ball short (again!) for a double.

Hole 17 I hit an easy gap wedge and pulled it a bit thin, left of the hole but just over the green. That led to a ball that was maybe 20 yards from the hole. Unfortunately, I made a judgment error: I thought I wanted the ball to run out and planned such – but then I hit the ball longer than I expected.

It was a good chip and I didn’t plan for a good chip. So the ball ran just past the hole (imagine if it had hit the pin!) and just off the green. Chip-putted it back on to 3 feet (Kev commented that it looked like I putted over gravel with the ball bouncing around) and made the 3 footer.

Wish I had that chip back: would have put it in the front of my stance and totally have chipped it in for birdie (or at least had an easier putt for par).

A bit of wait, as always, for hole 18. I hit a 5 iron off the tee and hit it perfectly straight, perfectly flighted, 200 yards off the tee. That felt great!

That led me to be 43 yards from the pin. But it was uphill and over some junk, so I thought – maybe a SW would be better. I mean the 50% distance for me with my 54 degree is 43 yards, but it’ll be uphill…

The shot carried like 42 yards and then ran off the green. The only way it was going in was if it hit the pin or hit the hole.

Another judgment error for me here. Instead of a downhill putt from the rough onto the green, I decided to chip it with my lob wedge. It ran out to 9 feet. This wasn’t the worst choice but after the hole I went back and putted it to 4 feet or so. Blegh.

Anyway, I missed the 9 footer 1 ball short and tapped in for bogey.

But this was an excellent 6 holes: 2 pars, 1 double, and 3 bogeys. With a bit more luck and better judgment, I coulda had 6 pars. That’s incredible!

After this, my friends left and I decided to finish the back 9.

Hit PW off the tee on 10, a little chunky and short of the green. I hit another shot and found the green but stayed with my first shot. I chipped on with my gap wedge, a little high of the hole and a little long, but to 6 feet. Left the 6 footer 1 ball short again.

Hole 11 I contemplated hitting my 5 wood but then – why? 5 iron went 200 yards downhill! Why not hit that club?

So I hit my 5 iron. It faded weakly just through the fairway but left me a good approach of the green about 130 from the center of the green. That’s an 8 iron, I said to myself, and then I promptly chunked the 8 iron. I hit another approach shot and would you believe it: it found the front edge of the green when I didn’t chunk it. So a 7 iron may have been better, to the center of the green.

I should have done the thing Arccos recommended: 7 iron, 8 iron, and 6 iron since the course was not busy. But I did not do that.

Chunked shot was 43 yards from the pin but I had a lot of green to work with. So out came the lob wedge and onto the green went the shot. Really felt good.

12 footer that I didn’t get to drop, once again. I think it was another 1 ball short. Eventually they’ll go in the hole.

Final hole as the sun was going down, hole 12. Two balls off the tee: the first was short and the second found the green. Pretty bad gap wedge chip on that left me 13 feet from the hole.  Not quite a 1 ball miss but a close miss.

3 bogeys at the end and it could have been 2 pars and a bogey, easy. So a potential for a +2, but a great +8. Hit 2 of 3 fairways, and 2 of 9 greens, with putts for par on every hole – and only 18 total putts considering I didn’t even warm anything up.

Really encouraged by the contact I was making too.

Good shots:

  1. Tee shot on 13: it’s a GIR without a practice swing. I’ll take it.
  2. SW to the green on 14. Under a tree, sidehill lie: got it on the green in the middle.d
  3. 32-footer for par save on 14. What can I say?
  4. Tee shot on 15: on the back of the green for a back pin location.
  5. 29-foot 2 putt for par; on a warmer day it’d have been a birdie.
  6. 29-foot 2 putt for par
  7. Bunker shot on 16 to 11 feet.
  8. Tee shot on 18. Perfect, 43 yards from the pin.
  9. Approach wedge on 18. Nearly dunked it.
  10. Tee shot on hole 11: good distance, good location.
  11. LW to the green on 11
  12. 12 foot 2 putt on 11 – another day maybe it drops?
  13. 13 foot 2 putt on 12 – maybe someday they’ll drop.

Shots I would want to try again

  1. First putt on hole 13. Didn’t warm up and missed the putt short. The 4-foot second putt ended about 6 inches from the hole, a little right. I did make the practice putt for follow up.
  2. Tee shot on 14. Hit a tree.
  3. Tee shot on 16. Hit my 5w wood thin and low and it went 133 yards
  4. 11 foot putt blasted past the hole to 4 feet.
  5. 4 footer stopped right next to the hole.
  6. Chip shot on 17 just ran past the hole. Just missed the hole and ran well past. Playing front of my stance would have been perfect.
  7. LW from the fringe – putting would have been better on 18
  8. 9 foot 2 putt – the ball stopped 1 roll from dropping
  9. Chunked 8 iron on 11

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