Golfing with friends from … elementary school? At St. Marks Exec Course on 7/15

On Thursday afternoon, I played St. Mark’s Executive Course with three friends from (checks notes) elementary school? We’ve been friends for a long time and have stayed friends for a long time.

St. Mark’s is an inexpensive executive course, but it’s well kept. It has a decent amount of elevation change but it’s pretty safe. It’s not particularly narrow and it isn’t particularly long. But there are 4 legitimate par 4s.

I’ve played there before and previously shot a +17, which was my best ever score until I played at Emerald Isle on June 11th. I felt pretty confident but, per my goals, I wanted to just have a nice time.

Speaking of goals, these were my goals for the day:

  1. Have fun
  2. No triple bogies
  3. No 4-putts
  4. Make a birdie

So let’s get started.

We drew lots for hole 1 (well, I threw a tee at my friends). The best golfer by a huge mile, Jimmy, went first, followed by Chason, followed by me, followed by our friend Kiven. Yes, their names have been changed to protect their innocence but they know who they are. And, honestly, it’s not too hard to figure out who they are. Here is a picture.

An aside: the town that this golf course is in is called San Marcos. For those of you who don’t know Spanish, that is Saint Mark. I feel like this was a racist choice to avoid using Spanish.

Hole 1

The tees were more than a little forward this day and, since it’s an executive course, there is a choice of red or white tees. Should Chason, Kiven, and I play red tees? Probably. Did we? No.

Hole 1 is a short par 3 with a pond left and the parking lot right. There are some trees and a sand trap behind the hole.

My plan was to hit a smooth pitching wedge over the water, landing on the green smartly, leaving an easy put to the hole. It was about 100 yards to the center of the green, which is where I was aiming.

Instead, I absolutely blasted my pitching wedge 130 yards — over the green and behind a tree. As I walked toward that hole, I spilled my beer when my push cart rolled over a bump in the road. So a double fail 😦

That less than ideal place meant I had a 40 yard shot from behind a tree. That went long, off the front of the green.

“I made par last time.” I whined to myself as I walked across the green with my putter.

It was a long putt, like 45 feet. Naturally, I putted it far, far too long, even for a chip, through and off the green, leaving 24 feet downhill. In my defense, the first green was FAR nicer than the practice green. So the bumpy practice green probably would have eaten up that putt nicely. Instead…

So my 4th shot was my first official putt, 8 yards downhill which I missed to 5 yards long. That is a very bad miss.

I finally recovered and made the 5 yard putt just close enough to tap in for a triple bogey.


GOAL ACCOMPLISHED!

Hole 2

Hole 2 is very downhill. There is a sand trap to the left of the green. There are houses to the right and a road further to the left. There is also a swamp in the middle of the fairway.

My plan was to hit an 8 iron off this tee, even though the green was 145 yards away. After all, it was quite downhill.

I hit a nice 8 iron shot that just missed the fairway in front of the green, maybe 130 yards. Unfortunately, I was completely embedded in the rough. Like the ball was swimming in the grass.

I was about 16 yards from the pin so I hit my SW out and the ball ran along the green to 7 yards long. But honestly, with the lie I had, I was happy to have hit the ball.

A 7 yard downhill putt from the fringe finished 1.5 yards above the hole. I putted downhill and made the 1.5yard putt.

That 7 yard putt is an iffy putt since I would have liked to have had it within tap in distance. However, my goal for any putt above 4 yards is to get the ball within 2 yards so I count it as a success.

Hole 3

Where hole 2 is downhill, hole 3 is uphill. The tees were short the day we played, so it was about 90 yards away. Since my pitching wedge, what I’d ordinarily hit here, went SO long, I decided to muscle up my sand wedge.

There’s a bunker right of the green, too. But I aimed at the front lip, figuring it would stick there and give me a chip if it didn’t run on.

My fade (the ball going left to right) returned and I hit the sand wedge nice and pure about 89 yards — into the bunker at the lip right next to the green. Fortunately, the bunker was hard-packed so I rolled along the sand to a decent lie.

I hit a 25 yard lob wedge shot that ran on the green to 9 yards long. It was another 9 yard, downhill putt that I left short (can you tell that Hole 1’s putting fiasco was still in my head?). I then missed the 2 yard putt JUST right and tapped in for a double bogey.

Hole 4

Hole 4 is a par 4 and it is a legitimate par 4. It is a downhill tee shot to a dog leg sharp right. You can shoot the dogleg, if you can hit the ball 300 yards, blind, around some houses. At the dogleg, there are some bunkers in the fairway. But if you go long through the fairway, it runs into Hole 5. There are hills that slope toward the fairway, so any topped shots will probably run back into the fairway.

My plan was: 8 iron off the tee, 8 iron toward the green, likely leaving a chip on.

I hit a great 8 iron off the tee but it faded a bit right in the fairway, which meant I had a slightly blind shot at the green, which was guarded by a bunker right. I was about 130 yards from the flag, so it was in a great 8 iron distance (even if it was uphill). (That means I hit my 8 iron 160 yards off the tee!)

My 8 iron was the perfect distance but it faded right again, into some thick rough right of the green. I didn’t have to carry the bunker with my pitch shot of 20 or so yards. I hit a great pitch, leaving me above the hole about 2 yards from the pin. Unfortunately, it was a slippery downhill putt that several of my friends had missed. Fortunately, I made it. Getting up and down for par when you hit the green is real nice.

I also hit a provisional tee shot with my 4 hybrid and hit it a shorter distance than I hit my 8 iron. So that’s fun.

About now was when I forgot to remember to take pictures. It’s a bummer because the light kept getting better and better.

Hole 5

Hole 5 is downhill, parallel to the end of hole 4. It is a short hole, guarded right by a swampy drainage area that is a lateral hazard and houses. Behind the hole is hole 6, so it’s pretty open.

My plan here was to hit whatever had worked on hole 1 — which was a stupid plan. Because nothing worked on hole 1 except for my 5 yard putt. But I hit what I thought was an easy pitching wedge — and I flushed it another 130 yards off the tee. The hole was maybe 100 yards downhill.

That left me 24 yards over about 13 yards of rough to get to the pin. No problem, I thought, i will hit SW that distance. Instead, I hit my sand wedge 12 yards and the ball just died in the rough.

So I chipped my second sand wedge of 12 yards to about 1.5 yards out and then drained the 1.5 yard putt for bogey.

On this hole, Jimmy had a great tee shot about 1 yard from the hole. So an easy birdie for that machine.

Hole 6

Hole 6 is another short, downhill par 3. It was about 70 yards to the pin but the downhill made it play like 67 yards. Since I kept going long with everything else, I hit my lob wedge. I figured it would go about that distance. My original plan had been pitching wedge.

As it was, it was a little short at about 65 yards. So it was off the green but it left an uphill putt. So i putted onto the green with a 7 yard putt, leaving it about 1 yard short, which I made for an easy par save.

Hole 7

Hole 7 is a long, uphill par 3 and it’s quite challenging because of that. This day it was about 150 yards to the pin.

My plan was to hit 8 iron off the tee, preparing for a chip on. I thought about using my 6 iron but since I haven’t practiced with it at all in the last month, I laid off the 8 iron.

I did mention to my friends I was going to “step on it.” That led to a slightly chunky shot, which meant the ball died in the fairway instead of rolling and went about 125 instead of a 135. I dunno, after I hit the ball, Kiven said that my ball flight sounded like Jimmy’s, screaming through the air like a missile.

So I was about 35 yards from the pin with my SW and I hit the ball … 35 yards, so it ran out long, leaving me a 9 yard downhill putt from off the green. Which I drained for a par.

So that’s a 27 foot putt, thank you very much!

Hole 8

This is another very downhill par 3 of about 100 yards, guarded by houses and OB right and behind the hole and bunkers on either side of it. 

I decided I would learn from my mistakes and I hit my SW, when I’d usually hit PW here. My SW went about 95 yards and died on the fringe, about 15 yards from the pin on the fringe. I was on the left side of the green and my three playing partners were all clustered on the right front fringe.

I duffed the putt horribly. It was uphill so I should have tried to hit it beyond the hole. Instead, I hit it about 10 yards, leaving me 6 yards into the hole. I redeemed myself with shot 3, leaving myself just 6 inches for bogey. Oof.

Hole 9

Hole 9 is a short par 3, again, about 100 yards from our tee location. There’s a brutal bunker that guards the front left of the hole and the right side is a pretty generous distance from the OB. Oh the water hazard on hole 1 is in play if you hook it.

Original plan: pitching wedge. Revised plan since pitching wedge is going 130 yards on every strike: sand wedge.

I hit the sand wedge really good but I think I caught it a little chunky. It went to about 80 yard and got stuck in some of the right rough. I hit a provisional PW that missed the green but was pin high — go figure.

I had about 19 yards to the hole and a lot of green to work with so I thought I would hit the fringe with a lob wedge and the ball would roll onto the green. That was an unwise choice: I should have bumped and run with a pitching wedge from that distance.

Instead, my Lob wedge shot bounced a little short of my aiming point and just stopped on the fringe. Womp wow.

That left me 5 yards from the hole on the fringe. I putted it up and also terribly, about 2 yards down from the hole. Ugh.

Fortunately, I made the 2 yard putt for bogey.

There should be something you notice from the front nine. No, it’s not that I hit 0 greens. No it’s not that I had 13 putts — it should be that I didn’t miss hit a single tee shot. In fact, I hit several of them TOO good. My bad tee shots were on 1 and 5 and that’s because I hit the ball long.

Even though I missed every single green, I had 7 excellent tee shots. I shot +9 on the front 9, which was 1 under my previous best on that course.

Also, I was having a great time.

Hole 10

Hole 10 is a slightly uphill par 3 that ends up being about 110 yards or so. Since the back of the green was like 120 yards I thought, “Even if I hit it 130 yards with my pitching wedge, i will not have too long to go.”

Realistically, i probably should have hit it a little shorter. But I did take a bit off my pitching wedge (well, a whole lot off) and hit it about 105, pin high, with a slight fade off the green (what else is new?)

I had a 7 yard, downhill putt chip  that I finally missed long, leaving myself 2 yards long and also downhill again.

Unfortunately, I could not replicate my escape on hole 9 and missed right. I didn’t right down the distance so I made the bogey putt and it wasn’t too long.

Hole 11

Hole 11 is a long par  (for this course, anyway) that has a slight dogleg left. Jimmy hit his driver off the tee and ended up going as far as Kiven and Chason’s 6 iron shots because he hit a tree. Because there are trees that protect the green from people like Jimmy.

There are also bunkers that protect the green at the dog leg, and then one that protects the green right. There’s also a line of trees that separates this fairway from Hole 16’s fairway.

I decided to play smart and hit my 8 iron off the tee. That was my plan, after all. I hit it well and left myself 160 yards to the rear pin position. My plan had been to hit 8 iron with my second shot (which is what I should have done) but the green called to me. So I hit my 6 iron and chunked it.

This was especially stupid because I had hit my 8 iron 160 yards off the tee. If I can hit it 160 yards off the tee, then I can hit it like 130 to 150 yards from the fairway. But I didn’t realize that at the time. Alas.

So I hit my 6 iron maybe 60 yards, from the fairway into the rough. That left me about 80 yards to the pin so I hit my sand wedge.

I thought I chunked it. Instead, I hit it perfectly. The ball hit 3 yards above the hole, hopped, and spun back about a yard. 

So i had, despite my best efforts a shot at par with a 2 yard downhill putt.

My friend Chason missed his putt from about the same spot so I tried to read the ball out right. That was stupid and I missed right. Tap in for bogey.

Hole 12

Hole 12 was hilarious. It is a short, downhill par 3 and today it was extra short. Normally about 100 yards with a blind tee shot, this time it was 70 yards with a blind tee shot. The white tees were actually closer than the red tees, because the white tees were on top of a hill maybe 5 yards above the red tees. 

So I hit my Lob Wedge about 70 yards onto the green (finally) about 7 yards left of the hole. I left my downhill putt short about 1.5 yards, but I made that 1.5 yard putt for a par.

Hole 13

Hole 13 was similarly playing way up. It can be a 130 yard hole but today, it was not. Today, it was about 80 yards since the white tees were moved very far up.

I decided, based on my success on hole 11 with the SW from 80 yards, to hit SW. I hit it 75 yards and unfortunately, hit it so well that I put backspin on the ball.

That left me on the green but 9 yards below the hole. No matter, an uphill putt is a good putt, right?

Wrong? I left the 9 yard putt 2 yards short and then I just missed the 2 yard putt to finish. 1 foot tap in for bogey.

Hole 14

Hole 14 is similar to all the other holes in this section: short. It has a bunker in front of the green left and right and on the score card it is only 87 yards.

Today, it was playing more like 100, I thought. Turns out, it was more like 90 and i ended up hitting my pitching wedge 105 yards, over the green, over the hill and into the rough. THat was really frustrating.

What made it more frustrating was that I had a buried lie and a tree in my way. Well, not exactly in my way, but definitely in my flight path. I didn’t realize it was in my flight path until I tried to hit my lob wedge the 17 yards I needed it to go.

It went 5 because it hit the tree and dropped right down into the rough.

Frustrated, I hacked at the ball in the rough ( I probably should have putted it) and launched it to 12 yards long of the hole but at least on the green.

So then I finally, finally, missed my 12 yard uphill putt long but too long. So I had a 2 yard downhill putt for double bogey which I missed. Fortunately, I was 2 inches from the hole so an easy in.

This was the most frustrating hole of the day by far. Again, I hit the tee shot too far and then I made bad choice to get out of a jam. Smarter play would have been a pitching wedge bump and run.

Hole 15

Now terrified of my pitching wedge, on the 99 yard hole that was hole 15, I hit sand wedge. I hit it beautifully but it went about 80 yards. I was the only person who missed the green out of our gang and I was disappointed.

I had a 27 yard sand wedge chip/pitch to get on the green. Which I, magically, pitched on to about 1.5 yards.

I made that for an excellent par save.

Hole 16

This is a straightaway par 4. There is the fairway to 11 of the right and a hill up left. If there’s any hole for me to hit driver, it’s this one.

I decided to stick to my plan and hit a … not good 8 iron into the fairway. I chunked it pretty badly and ended up about 110 yards. 

So not a bad hit, but I decided I would hit a provisional driver shot. It was 250 yards, straight as an arrow, down the middle of the fairway.

I thought about that a lot as I trudged up to my 8 iron shot. Everyone else, including Kiven who has not played in 10 years, out hit me by like 70 yards.

So saw that I had 220 yards to the back of the green and made another dumb choice: I decided to hit my 4 hybrid. I hooked it about 150 yards, nearly onto the teebox for hole 17. 

Like sands through an hourglass, 1 mistake leads to another or something like that.

I had a terrible shot for shot 3. I had to go 70 yards over some trees or go 50 yards under some trees. I chose to go under and hit SUCH A  GOOD SHOT — but I hit a twig on the tree which stopped the ball from getting to the green. 

Instead it stopped at about 30 yards out. I hit a 30 yard SW pitch shot that left me a 3 yard downhill putt that I missed real close. Double bogey.

My driver shot was 50 yards from the green. I would have had a real shot at birdie.

Blarg.

Hole 17

Hole 17 is a short (any news here?) uphill par 3. It is made challenging by:

  1. Being uphill
  2. Being guarded by a deep bunker everywhere.

So you have to carry the bunker which means the ball has to go at least 80 yards. Naturally, I hit the ball 80 yards with my sand wedge — which was 12 yards from the pin  — on the fringe.

I putted the 12 yard putt uphill and missed 3 yards short. Then I missed the 3 yard putt to 6 inches, easy in for a bogey.

Hole 18

Hole 18 is a short par 4 that is designed to tempt you to drive it in one. It’s a dog leg right, with the left side protected by trees and bunkers. The right side is wide open — so you should try to land there and pitch on.

Or you can do what Jimmy did: hit a 5 wood and go long of the green and not get a birdie. Well that’s not what he wanted to do but that’s what he did. It was spectacular.

I hit my 8 iron off the tee 167 yards apparently, right up against the fairway bunkers that protect the green. Chason hit his ball to the same spot.

It was a tough spot to be in: in the rough (although a good lie) with the need to go under trees to get to the green that was about 60 yards out.

I tried to punch a PW through there but ended up hitting the rough short of the fringe and coming up short, about 15 yards from the green.

I tried the PW bump and run against and it failed to continue running after being bumped.

So my 4th shot was 4 yards from off the green to a pin — the ball just died going up the hill and I finished with a tap in bogey.

Back 9

My back nine score was a 40 for a +10. So that’s a total score of 77, which is two off my best at this course and a really good round overall.

On the back 9, hit 2 of 3 fairways and 2 of 9 greens.

What was amazing about this round was that I had 2 chunked shots out of 23 full swings. That is by far the lowest number of full swings I’ve ever made. I also topped no shots, thinned no shots, and sliced no shots. I had 1 hook and 2 chunks — and all 3 were in circumstances where the chunk wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

For my pitches and chips, they were also pretty good.

Pitching, I had 6 pitch shots and no mishits (2 went long). Chipping, I had 7 chip shots and I didn’t mishit any of them.

The complete lack of mishits was amazing. Even the chunks that I had weren’t terrible — they didn’t set me back that much.

Even better were my putting numbers. I had 9 putting chips and 31 putts total — and i didn’t miss a single putt of less than 2 yards. That was monumental! I was 15 for 15!

Reviewing my performance, it was one of the best performances I’ve had. My full swings were really really useful — only had 2 swings that were not good contact. 

My problems were mostly caused by not knowing my distances: I kept hitting my pitching wedge long and wasn’t realizing that I could hit my 8 iron 150 yards. Knowing that for next time, I think I’ll have significantly more success.

The best shots were numerous:

  1. Sand Wedge pitch on hole 4
  2. 2 yard downhill putt on hole 4
  3. 9y yard chip-in on hole 7
  4. Tee shot on hole 11
  5. SW on 3rd shot on hole 11
  6. LW off the tee on hole 12
  7. SW off the tee on hole 13
  8. SW pitch on hole 15
  9. Provisional driver on hole 16

If you stuck around this long, thanks! These are always more for me than for anyone else but I know several people enjoy these blog posts.

Golf Lesson #2 with Don Byrd: I actually played 3 holes?!

I had my second lesson today (well, when I wrote this; I forgot to post it) with Don Byrd at the Golf Club of California. The lesson started off … poorly. I had to run some errands after the lesson. Naturally, I forgot a mask and had to go back and get it. Then I had to go get gas. So while I left nearly an hour before my lesson, I was running very very late.

Still, I got there right as Don was finishing his previous lesson so no harm, no foul. He picked me up and we went over to the range.


We talked about my (lack of) practice over the past few weeks. I mean, I’ve been to the range two times, have putted several times, and played once. He did not want to hear about my success at Emerald Isle (well he did) but I don’t think he wanted to read my blog then and there.

Anyway, we hit about 10 pitching wedge shots and 10 8 iron shots at the range and he worked on adjusting my stance and correctly hinging my wrists. The pitching wedge shots were okay (not nearly as good as last time) and the 8 iron shots … were not great. I was struggling to hit the ball straight since I was busy trying to align my wrists and my elbows with my chakras in my knees, shoulders, and feet.

Golf is struggling and I was practicing golf, man.

Then he said, “Let’s hop in the cart and take it out to the course.”

I mean, I knew that I was eventually going to do this. But it was a mixture of excitement (yippe! golf!) and trepidation (what about my errands! Also, what about my course plan!?)

So … off we went. We got to the first tee box … and then we went past the black tees, past the blue tees, past the white tees, all the way to the red tees. Which, honestly, I should be playing. I’m very, very bad at golf.

So one thing that was problematic was that I wasn’t able to my usual “take notes after each shot” routine which is what I’d like to do. 

Anyway: Hole 1 on the Golf Club of California is a straightaway par 4 with bunkers that protect you from the hazard long of the fairway and a lateral hazard/wetland right. There’s a severe dogleg right at the green to use the hazard to protect it.

Don had me hit 8 iron off the tee which I promptly chunked. Then I hit a long fade (I think). That’s what I would have hit there anyway — my goal was to get to 120 yards out or so.

I also wanted to tell him that I hit one ball usually and just play that. But it was a lesson and I was very self conscious that I was justifying my poor play, in general. So I didn’t tell him this.

So we approached the first ball and I promptly hit a big slice out of bounds with my 8 iron. But I hit the second one pretty well into the fairway again, maybe … xxx yards out? I don’t remember.

I got to my second ball in the middle of the fairway and hit my pitching wedge very crappily and out of bounds. Then I hit my second shot really well onto the green.

Then when I got to my second ball, he told me to hit a sand wedge. And so I did, it was a sand wedge that stuck to the green and spun back. I hit a good shot!

I putted both balls on the green close and Don conceded to me each gimme putt. It’s kind of hard to calculate a real score on this one, because … i would have made different choices. And also would have written down what I did. I think I actually made one of the putts from about 5 yards.

Don also to me to stop trying to read putts and just try to get the distance right. “Once you get the distance right, your mind will compensate for that in line with the break.”

But I was in the fairway the whole time. I was so jazzed to be playing golf that I didn’t really pay attention to what he was saying.

The second hole we drove past all the other tees to the front tee again. I suggested that I would probably hit driver here since there wasn’t a downside but Don said, “You want to build on success. Sure you could hit driver but most people aren’t thinking of hitting a distance. They’re thinking of hitting it as far as the ball can go.”

I told him I didn’t think about that but I hit 8 iron instead.

So no driver. Instead, it was a pure, 150 yard 8 iron to the left side of the tee into the fairway. Then another 8 iron to the end of the fairway (with a big slice but leaving me in a decent position based on how I aimed it). Still in the fairway though.

That left me a PW slightly over a tree. I completely missed my aiming point and went long and right with my PW.

That left me a very long chip from off the green. However, I did pretty fantastic and got the ball to a concession distance. That’d be a 4, thank you very much! (I mean, i missed that second putt multiple times…)

The third hole I had another shot that I hit really well off the tee. (8 iron again). Then on my second shot, I punted my 8 iron quite a bit left after about 400 practice swings. Fortunately, it hit a tree and bounced out, leaving me a tricky pitch shot over a bunker. But I pitched it well over the bunker and onto the green.

It rolled out a bit, leaving me a 6 yard putt or so that I completely ignored what Don was saying. I missed the putt like 2 times. The second time, I said, I missed high. Don said: “Just shoot straight!” So I did and made the putt, go figure.

Those kind of successes on the course make me giddy. “See, daddy, I did the thing you ASKED me to do.” In this case, it was a bit more impacted by the fact that I was, in fact, not doing the thing he asked. Then I did it and I would have had another par.

So it was really exciting to get to play. My drills are going to be hitting tees at the park and trying to putt regularly. We’ll see how that goes.

UPDATE:

Since I have played with Don, I have practiced putting 3 times at a course and 1 time at home, and have practiced my full swing 5 times (2 times at a range). I also did some chipping practice that went very well too.

Playing on 7/15 with some friends so I will likely have a lesson … at some point after that?

Emerald Isle on June 11, 2021

I played Emerald Isle on June 11. I had two very special guests with me: my daughters! I had the day off work and my oldest had just finished kindergarten, so I took them with me to celebrate. They mostly like riding in the cart although my oldest will occasionally hit balls.

Youngest daughter being savvy and coy.

Daughter 2 riding in the cart and covering her face.

I also played with 3 other people which is something I was not expecting. I have never been added to a group playing at this particular course. I’ve joined up with other people out of convenience but never have I ever been forced to. The guys weren’t rude — quite to contrary — but it was a little uncomfortable. One of them also clearly did not have children based on some of the language he was using. But they were very kind, very respectful, and very understanding of my children speaking during their backswings.

We got there a few early to warm up putting. My older daughter putted around a bit; my younger daughter, sad that we have lost her putter, wanted to stay in the cart and eat snacks.

Last time, I was criticized for being too bossy. So this time, eating in the cart — that’s fine. Whatever you want to do, kids.

Anyway, I’ve played this course several times and always seem to find new and exciting ways to fail. Is that golf? Yes.

It’s an executive course with two “Par 4s.” Are they real par 4s? No. No they are not. One is a straightaway, 190 yard par 4. The other is 250 yards downhill. Both are pretty narrow. The rest are all Par 3s.

It is also a discount course. The tee boxes are … not always level. The greens are plinko boards — and consistently inconsistent. This time I was charged $10 for a cart. I’ve also never been charged for a cart before.

So there were lots of firsts here. But I have played with the girls there before and that’s always been fun — and a good reminder that golf is fun.

Anyway, my plan for this round was:

  • pray before the round with the girls
  • Smooth swing
  • Make a birdie
  • No triples

Oh and we played the white tees on the insistence of the first two guys to play with us. That was a good plan; I should probably be playing the shortest tees I can, going forward.

Oh and my mantra per hole was:

Check your grip and commit to the shot.

Check distances after the putt. Line it up, check the target, and go.

This was in size 16 font, bold, on my document of notes for this course. On every single hole.

Hole 1

The first hole is a 150 yard par 3 that is narrow. Right side is out of bounds (OB) scrub and a street. Left side is hole 18 — and then a net guarding the tee box for 18 and hole 2. There are trees behind the green. The green is pretty large.

I’ve played this course a lot. I have made par on this hole but I tend to double bogey. It’s the first hole, I get nervous, I get excited.

Anyway, my plan for the hole was to try for a bogey. Hit 8 iron easy off the tee, and then pitch it on.

Oh, and there’s these really nice agave plants that grow by the cart path as it runs along hole 2. There’s also a really small tree too. No reason to mention that…

Naturally, I chunked it into those nice agave plants, complete with mulch and dead grass. I had about … well, because I was with my daughters and with 3 other players that I didn’t know and because Don had mentioned to not really think about distances — I didn’t write it down. It was maybe 60 yards? 70 yards?

Anyway, the shot faded off the green. It was a pin high shot but the shot shape pushed it off the green.

Don had mentioned using the texas wedge (aka the putter) from anywhere that was within 20 paces of the green. I was definitely in putting distance. Maybe 7 yards? I putted it to 1.5 yards out, missed the 1.5 yard putt, and then finally made it. 

Double bogey on hole 1. Oh baby.

Hole 2

This is the shortest par 4 in the history of par 4s. It is like 190 yards from “the tips” which at this course are like 2 yards longer than the white tees. There’s OB right, helpfully noted by a sign on the tee box. Nothing like making you think “don’t hit a slice.”

To the left is a huge hill down. I have gone down that hill multiple times and each time my score gets progressively higher.

There’s a bunker left and a bunker right guarding the front of the green. Behind the green is a neighborhood which is, unfortunately, out of bounds.

My plan has been to hit a short iron off the green and then pitch it on. I’ve PARed this hole recently, so no need to change what works.

Hit my 8 iron off the tee and … shanked it. Shortly before this, I had to get after my children for wandering off toward one of my playing partners, who had conscientiously stepped about 15 yards away from us to make a practice swing.

The girls were okay (and not injured! which was my real concern) but it was not the first time I had to speak to them about being aware of their surroundings.

The ball went into the OB acacia so I hit another ball. Took a little bit off and had a very nice 8 iron off the tee. The ball ran off a little right into the rough, 40 yards from the green.

So I was lying my 4th shot and I swung my sand wedge. Chunked it but it was a useful miss: the ball went to the fringe of the green. I mean, any time you have to try to make 15 yard putt for bogey, you’re in a good spot, right?

Well, my new putting method of lining it up and just going for it worked … perfectly. I putted it to within 2 and a half yards and then made the 2.5 yarder for a double-bogey. That’s not too bad for hitting it out of bounds!

Hole 3 at Emerald Isle: a pond shielding a golf course green.

Hole 3 from the front of the blue/white tee box. Note the lake.

Hole 3

Hole 3 is legitimately challenging. At its longest, it’s 162 yards over a large pond. The ball has to carry 130 yards to stay out of the water hazard. Then you have to deal with the fact that the green is elevated, so it’s a bit longer.

And lest you think you can go long — you do not want to do that. The green is heavily sloped toward the water, with a large backstop behind. This is an intimidating hole.

My plan was to hit a punched 6 iron ( like a half swing) since that’ll usually get me over the water. It’s easier to go uphill on this hole then go downhill.

But since we were playing the white tees, the hole was a bit shorter: I think the front of the green was about 120 yards away. The pin was 135 yards

That’s an 8 iron distance for me. I flushed the 8 iron pin high, just a little right of the pin. “I got it on the green!” I told my daughters.

“Let’s goooo daddy.” They said. I should clarify that they were excited for us to drive the cart, although they forgot that was something they could do until the end of the round. But they weren’t raring to leave the course. They were having fun climbing around the cart. They were also not trying to express enthusiasm.

I was 7 yards right of the pin, slightly downhill. Now this is a terrifying hole to hit downhill on. I missed to 1.5 yards out and then just missed the hole for par. Made it coming back for bogey. Honestly, glad the ball didn’t roll all the way away.

Hole 4

Most of the holes at emerald isle are narrow and this one is no different. It’s an uphill, 100-120 yards to a hidden pin. There’s OB right and OB left. The green is LOOOONG and protected left and right by two bunkers in the front.

My plan was to hit it at the front of the green with my pitching wedge, since that goes about 100 yards.

Instead, I hit my pitching wedge thin and short, about 80 yards, right into the bunker. I’m pretty decent from the sand so I hit my sand wedge out. The shot ran to about 10 yards long but the putt was pretty straight. Using Don’s new putting method, I lined it up and hit it to about 3 inches short. Easy in for a bogey.

Hole 5

This is another narrow par 3: the left side of the hole opens into another fairway, but the right side is out of bounds. The hole is fairly long, about 130 to 150, with a bunker guarded by a tree guarding the left side. On the right side, I should mention, is out of bounds.

My plan was to hit 8 iron short of the bunker and then pitch it on. Instead, since we were  playing up a little but and I shot the pin at about 120 yards, I hit 8 iron. I was pin high on the green, left of the pin. A 7 yard putt finished within 6 inches for a par. Woot.

Hole 6

Yet another narrow par 3, further narrowed by a series of thin trees that protect the tee box of 14. To the right, more tree and out of bounds.

This hole is a bit shorter than the previous one, but uphil. The green is almost always hard as a rock.

I had a decent pitching wedge swing that landed on the front of the green and bounced right, into the cart path. The lie I had was pretty terrible in some ice plant, right next to the OB stakes … as in, in the out of bounds area.

Technically, I should have taken my drop for my 4th shot in the fairway, but I decided to treat the OB like a hazard since it was right there!

Played the ball out of the iceplant into the cart path and then dropped from the cartpath onto the fairway, 10y from the pin. I putted it to within 1 yard and made it.

So that’s a bogey. Should it be a double-bogey? I don’t want it to be.

Hole 7 at Emerald Isle: a narrow fairway leading to a green.

I hit at the big tree framed by the two smaller trees on the left. I thought I was aiming at the rock in the middle of the fairway.

Hole 7

If this were a true executive course, this would be a tremendously challenging par 3. It’s like 240 yards to the pin from the tee box. It’s downhill, which helps, but it’s also guarded right by trees and out of bounds (with a helpful sign about how you can slice it into the street). To the left, it’s pretty open. Well, there are a few trees but one is really small and not quite in play. The other is like 160 yards out. After that 160 yard hole, there is a pond.

My plan lately has been to not try to screw up on this hole. 8 iron or pitching wedge (PW) on the tee and then pitch it on the front of the green. Missing short is better than missing long, because if you go long, you go out of bounds and it is very upsetting. Oh and the green slopes ever so slightly toward the out of bounds. So if you miss long or miss right, you go out of bounds.

Have I mentioned out of bounds enough?

Anyway, i hit a very lovely 8 iron but, unfortunately, aimed a bit too far left. Like at the tree that is right in front of the pond 160 yards out.

Now I have hit my 8 iron well before. I have hit my 8 iron 180 yards before. Naturally, this is what I did here.

I found my ball in the drainage area behind the tree. It was on some sticks and mud, resting on the concrete of the drainage ditch.

I took this as an unplayable lie and took the opportunity to drop my ball in a flat area further back. I think I was okay with my rules interpretation here: unmarked drainage ditches are lateral hazards, which mean that I did hit my ball into the hazard, and so was permitted to drop within 2 club lengths of the point at which the ball entered hazard, no nearer to the hole.

I dropped and hit a punch shot PW over my helpful playing partner’s cart and up to the front of the green. I was 32 yards from the hole but — not too far way. I hit my trusty 32 yard putt with a texas wedge and got the ball to about 7 yards out. 7 yard putt closed to 1.5 yards short which I then made.

Counting up the strokes thats:

  1. Off the tee
  2. Drop
  3. PW to fringe
  4. Putter to 7 yards
  5. 7 yard putt
  6. 1.5 yard putt made.

A double bogey.

Hole 8 

This is a short par 3 with, you guessed, out of bounds right. There’s also OB behind the hole. The green is protected in front by a large swale that ends in a bunker guarding the green front left. The best miss is left which … means you sometimes have a chip to a downhill surface which means you usually have two chips because your first one rolls off the green.

My plan has been to miss into the bunker which is something I’ve never successfully done but I hear is all the rage. I aimed my PW at the top of the bunker.

This time i hit my pitching wedge very flush over the bunker. Unfortunately, it got caught in the rough behind the hole and didn’t roll back down.

So I had a 10 yard downhill putt from the fringe. I hit it very gingerly and the ball took off. Like I hit the putt to go about 1 yard to get to the green and i hit it about 2 feet.

Fortunately, I had the right read: the ball just stopped some six inches from the hole. In for par 🙂

Hole 9

Hole 9 is another very challenging hole. It is very uphill and over a lake. There is a large backstop behind the hole but there green slopes down and away, toward that drainage ditch into which I hit on hole 7. There are trees left and right which aren’t actually the worst aiming point.

My plan was to hit an 8 iron with a little bit of an easier swing. Trying to punch the ball up so that it would at least go 100 yards and get over the lake. The top of the green was something like 118 yards out and the pin was at 125. It was playing more like 130. That’s my 8 iron.

So I hit my 8 iron absolutely wonderfully. The ball was pin high, 7 yards to the right of the flag. That did, unfortunately, leave me with a very challenging right to left downhill breaker.

I aimed two feet right of the hole and went for it. The putt lipped out to 1.5 yards. I then missed the 1.5 yarder and finally tapped it in.

A three-putt bogey. But I’ll take it.

Front 9

So I didn’t do this at the time which may have contributed to my success: I didn’t add up my score on the front 9.

Had I done so, i would have seen that I had 39 strokes, which was my best score ever on this course by like 4 strokes. On a front nine, it is my second-best score ever.

I had 17 putts on 9 greens, of which I’d hit 3 in regulation. Considering that I’d used the putter on 22 of my 36 swings … i cannot really say how strange this is to write. I had fewer than 40 strokes. On 9 holes, I only had swings with my “not putter” 14 times.

I had 10 tee shots, of which all but 2 “worked.” 17 putts, even, was an accomplishment — I was averaging fewer than 2 shots.

It was also at this point that lunch arrived. I had a bratwurst, my older daughter a hot dog, and my youngest a grilled cheese.

This was also the time that I remembered my goal of praying with my children. Accomplished!

Hole 10

Hole 10 has been a challenging hole for me in the past. There’s a very small water hazard in front of the tee box. The green is like a kidney, with a large bunker for a … ureter? Bladder?

This time, the pin was set back right, which meant you had to go over the bunker.

My plan was to hit a pitching wedge to ward the the front right of the green and then figure it out later.

I abandoned my plan. I decided to hit 8 iron (which wasn’t a bad mistake) and that I would “hit a fade.”

Hitting a fade means that I’d have a little control over my shot shape. The ball would have a gentle spin to move away from me, toward the pin that was at the top of the kidney.

Why did I do this? I mean, technically I did hit a fade. The ball ran off the club very far to the right. It ended up over by hole 8 which was 130 yards away … and 50 yards off where I was aiming at. When I got to the ball, it was mostly behind a tree. I had a very small window to get to the green.

I punched out my SW and very nearly got past the tree. Fortunately, it was very nearly past the tree so the ball went much closer to the green.

Unfortunately, I was short-sided and that is a tough place to be. So I decided to hit a floppy SW.

It was a great shot! I was about a yard out and made the shot for a bogey.

Hole 11

Hole 11 is a very short par 3, more of what you’d think about with an executive course. It’s slightly uphill with a max distance of about 86 yards to a very deep green. There’s a water feature in front of the green and out of bounds at about 90 yards.

The tee was really far up so i pivoted from a pitching wedge to a sand wedge. I hit it pin high, about 7 yards out. I tapped it in for par and then ran to help my daughters in the bathroom.

Hole 12

Bathroom completed, I met my playing partners on the tee for hole 12. 

I wrote from this hole on the wrong hole in my diary but I remember what happened. This is a hole where it has a two-tier green. OB is right and left are some other holes so missing left and long is okay. There’s also a drainage ditch in the middle of the fairway.

My plan was to hit a pitching wedge to keep it short and then chip it onto the green, getting it close enough to allow for a bogey — which I rarely seem to do on this hole. I always seem to miss long and miss to the wrong part of the two tier green.

Anyway, this time I smoked a pitching wedge to the back of the green, maybe 100 yards long and a flight of … three inches off the ground? Fortunately, I had enough top spin that the ball made it over the ditch onto the back fringe. I was about 7 yards out and putted it to within a yard. Then I made that for par.

For those of you keeping score at home: that was my first top of the round — and it worked out fine. I mean, I was hoping to have no tops in the round, but I’ll take a top from 110 yards out that goes 115 or so.

Hole 13

Hole 13 is another short hole with a distinctive feature: the green is guarded by a MASSIVE bunker. I usually will shoot the bunker with my range finder and then promptly hit it into the very top of the bunker to cause me 3 shots to get out of the bunker.

Instead, this time, I shot the bunker and hit my sand wedge 1 yard further than the bunker — and very well right of the bunker. That left me a 13y chip that I left 3 yards short. Missed the 3y putt low and then made it for a bogey.

Hole 14

This is a fairly long, uphill par 3, about 134 yards to the pin from the tips. I’ve played it before, though, when it’s been about 160 yards.

Front left is guarded by a bunker and a subterranean beehive? (No joke but it’s only a threat if you’re, like, really bad and have trouble with solid contact). Right is guarded by being houses and out of bounds.

My plan was to hit an 8 iron with an easy swing to keep out of bounds out of play. Instead, I decided to hit a 7 iron for reasons that I don’t really remember. There was some talking in my backswing which I shall choose to blame my shank on, instead of general incompetence and the nagging sensibility that I WAS DEVIATING FROM THE PLAN AGAIN!

The shank still left my about 40 yards out in the rough. So I hit my sand wedge … 30 yards, where the ball just died on the fringe, leaving me on the green but 10 yards from the hole.

It looked pretty straight so I lined up the putt and drained it from 10.2 yards away.

That is the longest putt I have made in a very long time.

Hole 15

Hole 15 is the another challenging par 3 that’d be tough on just about any course. It’s 160 yards from the blue tees, downhill, over a pond that is at least 120 yards to carry. The green is pretty forgiving and pretty flat and there’s a bit more distance between the green and the pond and a lot more rough.

My plan was to hit a 6 iron or whatever had worked on hole 3. So I hit an 8 iron. It was on the green, 12 yards short and right of the pin. I putted up to 1.5 yards out and made the 1.5 yard putt for another par.

Hole 16

This is the last hard hole on the course. It’s a very short par 3, elevated tee over a pond. The green falls off pretty intensely downhill toward a massive bunker that collects shots that don’t stick to the green.

Oh and there’s a water hazard but that’s only in play if you tend to top the ball. OB is of course behind the green but you only have to worry about that if you’re, like, a normal player and mix up a 6 and a 9 iron.

Since we were playing the white tees, I hit my pitching wedge. I hit it a little short and a little right, just to the fringe.

Unfortunately, it was not the right place to miss: I had to go up about a foot in green in about 2 feet of green, followed by a more gradual uphill pace for the rest of the green. The pin was in the middle of the green.

13y putt chip that I pushed a little long and a little high. That left me 2 yards out, downhill which I just missed: the putt lipped out. Made the comeback though.

Hole 17

Hole 17 is an easy hole. My friend Jimmy told me that he has a friend who only hits putter on the hole. It is a very downhill, very short hole. The driving range and its net are to the right. There’s a huge hill behind the hole. And there’s a bunker left with a lateral hazard (17’s pond) but honestly, you’d have to hook it pretty good to get it into the water and even then, you’d have to be really bad to do that.

I always screw up this hole. It’s like 90 yards if the pin is in the back and the tees are up against the iceplant. But I always seem to chunk it because it’s so short.

My plan was to hit a sand wedge and have that go all the way to the green. Unfortunately, I didn’t really stop to think. My sand wedge shot was going 60 yards. The green this day was about 80 yards away. So even if I hit it perfect, which I did, I would still have 20 yards to the green.

So a good swing was stolen from me by poor club selection. I should have hit the same shot with a pitching wedge.

I had about 20 yards to the green and was in a little rough. I didn’t think I could get my putter there with any consistency, so I hit sand wedge again. Unfortunately, I missed my landing area by about 6 inches. So instead of the ball rolling lazily onto the green, my ball stopped on the fringe we’ll say 10 yards away.

I had a great putt to 1 yard out which i made for bogey.

Hole 18

Hole 18 is a straight, flat version of hole 17. There’s a bunker right instead of a bunker left and there’s a pretty serious slope to the right heading into the driving range (protected by a net).

Left is the first tee box, the queue for the first tee box, the putting green, and the parking lot.

My plan was to hit my sand wedge. I think I did hit the sand wedge but I took no notes on this hole. I do know I ended up pin high on the green but a little right. I think I just missed the putt of about 5 yards about 2 inches short. So I tapped in for a par which was a nice way to end a round that I was pretty sure was pretty good.

Back 9

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed is that the holes where I’ve done poorly tend to have a bit more written about them than the holes where I’ve been successful. I suppose it’s because those are the holes where the hole story is: I made a plan, I had a plan, I did the plan.

So, I would hope that you’ve been able to follow along with a trend on the back nine — and that trend is: no double bogeys. Not only no double bogeys, but not even the hint of a double bogey. The only hole where that was conceivable on was hole 10 where I had an heroic chip shot and hole 14, where I made an heroic putt.

This just in: you score well when you don’t double bogey!

5 pars, 4 bogeys for +4!!!! That’s a 31 which is my best score ever by a pretty significant margin: +7 was my best previously.

So that’s +14 which is my best round ever, by 3 strokes. I shot a 70 total, which, with a little luck, could have been in the 60s. Granted that it’s the 60s on a very short executive course with some generous par 4s.

My goal before the round: how’d I do?

Pray before the roundAccomplished on hole 10!
Smooth swingYes?
Make a birdieGood chance on 5, 8, 9, 11, 18 
No triplesAccomplished!

The other stats:

Overall, I had 28 non-putter swings, 39 putter swings, and 32 putts total. (it looks like I missed one stroke in there in my counting). Of those, I had 50 good shots! You may be interested to know that this is the best I’ve done since I began tracking.

Overall, my tee shots were pretty good: I only had to rehit one and I only had a few that put me in a bunch of trouble (hole 1, hole 2 (obviously), hole 6, hole 7, hole 10). Even the shank didn’t hurt me that bad. Also, only had one top on, what, 28 full swings? That’s great!

My pitching and chipping was okay, but my putting really pulled it through. I only missed 3 putts of less than 2 yards (16 of 19 total) and one of them lipped out and the other was after lipping out a birdie putt.

What were my best strokes? I think the 15 yard chip on hole 2 really brought back some confidence, as did the 2.5 yard make. Then the tee shot on 3, the 10y putt on 4, and the excellent play on 5 really restored confidence.

Putting on 6, on 8, and even on 9 helped a lot (as did the great tee shot on 9). My flop shot on 10 would have been the shot of the round if it hadn’t been for the putt on 14. Hole 11 was also really good, considering I was rushing to get my kids to the bathroom. Overall, there were so many good shots and the bad shots managed to be minimally damaging.

Golf is fun when you’re playing well. I guess those lessons paid off already!

Second First Golf Lesson

I’ve decided to take a golf lesson. My biggest issues are inconsistency with full swings — or at least that’s what I think my issues are.

I got referred by my friend Jimmy to go to his coach of 15 years, Don Bryd. Don was very friendly on the phone. I told him my goal: breaking 100 on a championship course.

“What are you scoring?” he asked. “Under 110?”

“Yes,” I told him. “Lately it’s been about 36 over. Again, I think my problem is inconsistency off the tee.”

“How’s your putting?”

“I have about 36 on average on the green. Well, my latest round had 42 on the green.” I checked my stats.

“I’ve averaged about 39 putts on the green in my last 10 rounds or so. But I promise, I’m good at putting! The problem is that last time I had really long putts. I wasn’t accustomed to hitting the green.”

“Well, even if you’re hitting the green in regulation, you still want to do two putts at most. Ideally, you’d average 1 and a half putts per green. So let’s meet on the putting green and we’ll head over to the range after.”

What does he take me for? Competent?

Anyway, having a lesson with him on Friday. Excited to work on putting and the range and all that.

So I met Don at the putting green and we went over to his work station on the range.

He watched me hit a few (and I hit them decently) and then we talked and he adjusted my grip. He talked about “throwing the golf ball” and making sure my hands were aligned at impact.

To do this, he asked me to try to have the back of my left hand and the palm of my right hand match with the ball on impact. Overall, it was really good. I think I had 1 chunk and 1 mishit. Every shot had a slight draw (except for the thin one).

I also worked on putting. Again, he had me change my grip: left index finger over the pinky of my right hand. He also told me that I should line up the putt, look at the target, and then just go. Oh, and that I could break my wrists. “Just try to feel natural” was his motto.

Oh, and using the texas wedge: from the fairway you should be able to use the putter up to 20 paces out. The trick is to align the ball near your left big toe, instead of your center stance. That means you put topspin on the ball, to help it get through the rougher grass of the fairway.

So we will see how it holds up. I felt pretty good and still feel pretty good.

Get it to the green: Overly complicated golf analysis

Getting a ball to this position is very important in golf. Well, ideally, it’ll fall into the hole and you wouldn’t be in this position.

My friend Jimmy, who doesn’t go by Jimmy but is a great golfer, said “shots within 50 yards are where you gain the most strokes.”

I think my game at Arrowood had significantly fewer shots under 50 yards than I have had before, because usually i hit the green with a chip shot on my second try to hit the green. I don’t hit it with approach shots.

I mean, technically, many of my approach shots were “chips” because they were not shots to the green in regulation (this means that you hit the green in a way that you can take two putts to get PAR). But that was because of my aforementioned incompetence off the tee.

I went back and looked at my course notes but also my course record (those are two different files that I will eventually explain).

Dear Reader, I am not just excited to review this information. I am overjoyed to review my incompetence in detail, with the hope that it will allow me to feel better about myself.

Looking at Arrowood on May 23, I had a total of 27 shots where I was planning on hitting the green. I think I also omitted some tee shots on here, just FYI.

Planned shots to hit the green where I executed my plan were as follows:

  1. 112Y PW on Hole 2
  2. 14Y SW chip on Hole 3 (since I missed the green, Par 3)
  3. 124Y 8 iron on hole 5
  4. 120y 8 iron on hole 7
  5. 10y SW chip on hole 8 (again, just missed it, Par 3)
  6. 35y SW on hole 10
  7. 120y+ 8 iron on hole 11 (hit the green, green in regulation! Par 3)
  8. 50y SW on hole 14 (green in regulation!)
  9. 100y PW on hole 16
  10. 60y SW on hole 17

That’s 10 holes where I hit the green with the shot I wanted to. That doesn’t include hole 1 or hole 6, where my shot rolled off and I was able to putt. So those might count. I won’t do it for now.

Shots where I missed were:

  1. 42y SW on hole 1
  2. 9y putt on hole 1
  3. 42y SW on hole 4
  4. 20y SW chip on hole 4
  5. 60y SW on hole 6
  6. 12y putt on hole 6
  7. 75y PW on hole 9
  8. Duff chip on hole 9
  9. Successful chip on hole 9
  10. 100y PW on Hole 12
  11. 25Y SW chip on Hole 12 (which should have been a 10y SW)
  12. 117y PW on Hole 13
  13. 20y SW chip on Hole 13
  14. 60y PW on hole 15 (Par 3)
  15. 18y SW Chip on hole 15 (Par 3)
  16. 150y 6 iron on hole 18
  17. 45y SW on hole 18

So I managed to get the ball on the green in 10 shots on 10 holes and 17 shots in 8 holes. How does that compare with other rounds?

If I look at my other published round, Oceanside Muni in April 2021, you’ll be able to see the carnage.

Successful shots to hit the green were:

  1. Hole 4: 46Y SW (Par 5, GIR)
  2. Hole 6: 110y PW (Par 4, GIR)
  3. Hole 7: 38y SW
  4. Hole 9: 30y SW
  5. Hole 10: 38Y SW
  6. Hole 11: 120y 8 iron (Par 3, GIR)
  7. Hole 15: 40y SW
  8. Hole 16: 50Y PW

That’s 9 holes where I hit the green with the shot I wanted to use to hit the green. However, it’s also only 2 shots of over 100 yards, whereas at Arrowood, 5 shots over 100 yards and 2 more shots over 60 yards, with an additional 2 shots that could go either way.

Here are the unsuccessful shots: 

  1. Hole 1: 60y PW
  2. Hole 1: 60Y SW
  3. Hole 2: 40Y SW* (maybe should be 4 shots here since I had a chance at a GIR…)
  4. Hole 2: 20Y SW
  5. Hole 2: 8y putt
  6. Hole 3: 15y SW chip (Par 3)
  7. Hole 3: 8y putt (Par 3)
  8. Hole 5: 60y PW punch (Par 3)
  9. Hole 5: 8y putt (Par 3)
  10. Hole 8: 60y PW
  11. Hole 8: 20y SW chip
  12. Hole 12: 50y PW
  13. Hole 12: 12Y SW from sand
  14. Hole 13: 12y SW chip (Par 3)
  15. Hole 14: 40y SW
  16. Hole 14: 10y putt
  17. Hole 17: 120y 8 iron
  18. Hole 17: 15y SW
  19. Hole 18: 50y PW
  20. Hole 18: 20y SW from sand

I managed to get the ball on the green with the shot I wanted to in 9 holes, 1 hole worse. So that’s 9 holes where I took at least 2 shots, even if I was putting on 4 of them.

Also, look at the average distance: my average distance for getting it on the green in one shot for arrowood was around 75 yards. When I missed, my average distance was 47 yards.

At Oceanside, my average distance to get it to the green, from over 50 yards, was 59 — nearly 15 yards less. My average distance when I got it onto the green was 34 yards.

So I definitely had better approach shots when I was playing arrowood, even if the score didn’t show it. And that’s because my approach shot wasn’t my second or third shot, but my third or fourth.

Here’s how this compares with some recent rounds. This also begins to show the challenges with my analytical method: it’s all over the palce.

CourseOver ParDouble shots from under 50Under 50 yardsOver 50 yardsTotal Shots into the Green
Arrowood 5/23+363x7 of 15 total (8 extra)7 of 12 total (5 extra)14 of 27 shots (13 extra)
Oceanside Muni 4/24+355x5 of 22 total (17 extra)2 of 6 total (4 extra)7 of 28 (21 extra)
Emerald Isle 4/21+385x1 of 20 (19 extra)4 of 21 total (17 extra)5 of 41 (36 extra)
Oceanside Muni 3/12+364x2 of 20 (18 extra)4 of 15 (11 extra)6 of 35 (29 extra)
St. Mark’s Executive Course 2/27+172x1 of 15 (14 extra)6 of 17 (11 extra)7 of 32 ( 25 extra)

I mean, the fairly obvious takeaway is that if you don’t hit the green, you’re going to need an extra shot. The other thing that’s important is how close you finish. At arrowood, I was hitting the green but ending up 3-putting after hitting it. At Oceanside on March 12 and at St. Marks, I was getting to close and putting in: I had 36 putts both those rounds.

Anyway, I felt like I was really improving when I wrote this and I think the evidence bears that out. If I can keep the ball on the course next time and maybe make some putts (I think I missed 8 putts within 3 yards), I should be able to break 100.

Oceanside Muni on on April 24th

Warmed up on the range but didn’t warm up putting the way I would like: I maybe hit something like 10 putts… normally I’d like to hit 30+. I also had no judgment on long pacing and didn’t feel confident going in.

Rode in a cart and made sure to eat a hot dog. My goal for the day was to have fun and shoot at least 108 again. My stretch goal was to have a chance at par on a par 5, which tend to be my nemeses.

We played the gold tees. The guys we were with played the blues; they had a lot of power but not a lot of ideas how to use it.

Goal for the round on 4/24:

  1. Have fun and look for the good stuff on each hole. This is a chance to relax.
  2. Have a chance at par on a par 5.
  3. Shoot 108 again!
  4. Get it on the green!
  5. Practice good habits: practice swing should be easy and focus should be on committing to the shot and not moving your head.

Hole 1

Hole 1 at oceanside muni is a dogleg right par 4 with the range OB right and OB left. My plan was to hit hybrid into the fairway. My approach shot would be whatever is short of the bunkers in the fairway followed with a pitch or chip onto the green. My best score on this hole at the time was a … 9.

Hit my 4 hybrid up the right side, through the trees that border the OB, right at the 150 stake; I was aiming center of the fairway. That put me in the rough, with a not good lie, trying to go around some trees.

So I pitched it with my SW into the fairway, about 60 yards out. Perfect distance for my PW pitch shot … or not. I chunked the PW to 40 yards and then pitched it on with my sand wedge. It left me a 6.6 y downhill putt that I missed 6 in right and 1y long. I then rushed the 1 yard putt and that meant I had a horseshoe. I did make the second 1 yarder.

Triple bogey which is 2 better than last time. Hot start!

Tee = +.5

Approach = +1

Putting = +1

Hole 2

This is a short, straightway par 4. There’s scrub and an a lateral hazard left and it’s pretty open right. My plan was to hit a 4 hybrid off the tee and then use a pitching way to get it on in 2. Last time, I got a 5.

Good 4hybrid off the tee that ended up … in a divot 90y from the pin.

Since it was in a divot, i should have tried to pitch it out. Instead I did a full swing and flushed it 40 yards long and right of the green into the hard packed dirt by hole 3s tee box. It was like a bunker.

I hit that third shot 20 yards into “grass” on the back of the green. I had 20y to go and i got up the hill to the top of the fringe.

8.8y putt from the fringe missed right leaving 2.5 yards in — which I drained for a double. Not too shabby. Still 1 up from last time.

Approach = +2 (my bad chips were because of the terrible approach)

Chipping = -.5

Putting = -1

Hole 3

Straight away par 3 with bunkers left and right and behind the tee, with a hill on the left side. Last time, I had a 5 after I hit my 6 iron topped and into a tree well.

Decided to hit 6 iron because there’s not a lot of downside: a top means it’s in the fairway. I did aim away from the solitary fairway tree. (The tree is more like fairway adjacent).

Hit a great 6 iron to pin high of the 155y pin but I didn’t get a good bounce and ended up in the rough 15y from the pin. It wasn’t a tough tie but I topped the chip to the other side of the green. Then I putted it long of the pin — missing by an inch! Left me 2y uphill.

Then I made one of the craziest shots of the day — putted it up, behind the hole — and it rolled back down for a bogey!

Chip = +1 (terrible top)

Putt = -1 

Hole 4

My first par 5. I think par 5s are my nemesis: I swing too hard on them.

Hole 5 at Oceanside is a long dogleg, but shorter for the gold tees. Last time I got an 8.

I had a plan of trying to cut the corner this time, punching it back into the fairway and approaching the green on shot 3-4. Instead I hit a perfect 4Hy about 190 yards that just leaked through the fairway. It was straight and maybe 20y off line.

That left me 200 yards out in the first cut of rough. I aimed middle of the fairway and hit my 8 iron 150 yards, leaving 46ys to the pin. I hit a 46 y SW over the pin but leaving 12y downhill on the green.

Lagged it 2y long — not leaving my birdie short (and misreading it a bit) and MADE the 2y par putt.

Hole 5

I was so jazzed — I did my goal on my first opportunity! I think that came to play in this hole.

Hole 5 is a par 3 that is long and is guarded right by a huge hill and left by … trees and hazard. My plan was to do exactly what I did last time and hit it onto the fringe of the green with a 6 iron, leaving to a par.

I thinned my 6 iron into the hill, leaving about 60 yards to the hole underneath the trees. Not an ideal location so I did the best I could. I had a good punch shot the right distance with my PW but I didn’t get a good bounce and so was 8y out from the green.

I then duffed a putt chip (well, not really, i just went short). But I was short sided so i thought that was the best choice to make. Then I putted too long downhill, leaving 1.5y uphill — which I missed. I made the last putt for a 6.

I really should have used a sand wedge on that chip shot. There was not a lot to lose.

+1 tee shot

+1 chip

+1 putting

Hole 6

Short, pretty easy par 4. Much easier for the noobs; the longer tees have to carry a creek which I can guarantee would eat my ball every time. I had a 6 last time.

Plan was to hit a 6 iron and then hit a pitching wedge to 8 iron to the green. I had a 6 last time when I hit the green in 2 and four-putted.

I hit a 6 iron off the tee thinking there was no way I could get through the fairway. Dear reader, I just leaked through into the rough.

Hit an excellent PW maybe 110 yards leaving 3y to the hole! Which i missed and then putted in for par. Much better than last time’s 4 putt.

Hole 7

Hole 7 is a challenging par 4. It needs an iron off the tee unless you have a really long carry because Hole 6’s tee box creek carries through the landing zone. Then the green is well back from the creek with lots of bunkers protecting it. It’s also a two-tiered green. Last time, I had a 5.

My plan was to hit a 7 iron to be short of the creek and then to hit an 8 iron toward the green, leaving me short of the bunkers and able to chip to a nice position.

I hit 7 iron to the middle of the fairway or so I thought. It turned out I ran way long and off the fairway into the dirt crap by the hazard. Didn’t really have a shot, so I hit an 8 iron from 120 from the front but just trying to find grass. Guess what?

I got it onto the grass, 38y from the pin.

Excellent SW to 4y out, up the plateau. Missed the 4y putt short but then tapped it in for bogey. Not bad for the trouble.

Tee shot +1

Approach -.5

Chip -.5

Hole 8

Another par 5 and another beast. Last time, I had a 7.

It’s straightaway, but with a hazard left, a hazard very right. The hazards converge to protect the green, leaving any layup having to carry at least a hundred yards to the green.

I decided to hit my 4hybrid and aimed way up the right side to allow a good layup approach and a good safe distance from the hazard.

Naturally, I hooked it. I played a provisional in case I couldn’t find it that was perfect but I could find my ball. It was in the hazard, so I took off my shoes and pitched it out — and did the best I could honestly.

Then I had to pitch it all the way into the fairway. It was that or hit a tree.

That left me 155y from the pin with my 4th shot. 155 is a tough carry for me; I probably should have hit 4hy since there’s room behind it and just taken a bit off.

Instead I hit a good 6 iron but I blocked it out right into the hazard. I dropped by the hazard, leaving 60y to the pin. I pitched it long over the green and took every club with me. Then I hit a beautiful 20y bump and run SW to 1 foot. Nice. Triple bogey, which isn’t too shabby for hitting it into the hazard twice.

Tee shot +1 stroke

Approach +2 stoke ( +2 for approach into hazard)

Chip = -1 (woot)

Hole 9

This is another dogleg left, running parallel to hole 1. There’s a water hazard (a pond) that borders the back of the fairway. So you don’t want to go long. Last time, I had a 6.

My plan was to hit the 4 hybrid off the tee toward the dogleg, leaving a pitching wedge to 8 iron toward the green.

Good 4hy toward the dogleg but i think i drew it a bit. Next time, I’ll aim a little more to the right to give me a  better opportunity to score — as it was I had no approach.

I hit a PW toward the bunkers on the right side of the green and did a great job to go 100 yards. That left a tough tough pin location — but I flopped it 33y with my SW to 4y out. Then I missed really long, like 3y long. And then I missed close and finally finished with a 6.

Tee = +1 (no attack)

Chip = -1 (so close)

Putting = +1 (so bad miss)

Front 9

Hit 5 fairways in 9 tries and 2 greens on the front 9.. Shot 3 under the front last time.

Lost 4.5 strokes off the tee. Lost 4.5 on approach. Gained a stroke chipping (woot!) and lost a stroke putting. Honestly, only 18 putts on the front. Really my issues were that 1: golf is hard, and 2, I don’t think I am accustomed to hitting so many good shots.

I had 5 bad strokes out of 31 non putts. That’s significantly better than I usually do. Not moving my head was really working well in terms of ball striking.

I think taking it easy on hole 2 playing from the divot, putting downhill instead of chipping on hole 3, chipping on hole 5 instead of putt chipping, and not hooking hole 8 would have made all the difference. That could have cut 10 strokes, I think from just those 5 shots.

I shot a 51, 3 strokes better than last time.

Hole 10

Hole 10 is a straighaway par 4 with a very slight dogleg left to a slightly elevated green. Last time was a disaster: I hit driver because I was trying to be cool. Don’t try to be cool. I made a 7 which was exceptional.

My plan this time was the good ole hybrid and 8 iron combo, with a pitch on.

Good hybrid to 170 out in the fairway but I didn’t have an angle to the green. Good 8 iron 130y short of the fairway bunkers. Good 38Y SW chip to leave a 7y uphill putt that I just missed right and 1.5y uphill. I missed the downhill 1.5y putt leading to a double and another 3 putt.

+1 putt

Hole 11
Par 3. Bunkers left and right. Hit whatever gets to the green was the plan.

This one was really short (it was short last time when I got a 6) with a rear pin position. I hit 8 iron when I should have hit 7 iron. Perfect 8 though, right on the front of the green. Unfortunately, it left a 17y uphill putt. I mishit it and misaimed it to 5y out. From 5y I just missed it by 1inch to 1y long. Made the 1y though for a bogey.

+1 putt

Hole 12

This is a very very uphill Par 4. Like it is maybe 250 yards and the tee is maybe 100 yards below the green. Last time, I had an amazingly bad tee shot followed by an amazing second shot and an even better SW onto the green, 1 foot from the hole for a par.

Excellent 4hy up the hill to 50y out. I hit my PW but aimed it into the bunker. Fortunately, it was a good lie and I got it out to within 6y on the green. Missed the 6y putt 2inches short and in for bogey. Not too shabby.

Approach +1

Hole 13

This is a very downhill par 3. Last time I hit it very short and left myself a 25y putt which I cashed in for a four-putt double bogey.

This time, my plan was to hit 9 iron since that’d put me into the middle of the green.

I chunked a 9 iron but because it was so downhill, got to the front right fringe. Chipped on with SW to 6y and had a really bad miss to 1.5y. The 1.5y lipped out and then I made it. Double bogey again.

+1 tee

+1 putt

Hole 14

Long par 5. There’s a lot of dirt to cover with a dogleg right, where the long shot is protected by a huge hill. Green is slightly elevated. Oh and there is water ALL along the right side. Last time, I managed an 8.

I think about this point I was starting to get tired and starting to get into my own head. This was also the point at which we SLOWED DOWN. I think the last 5 holes took us 2 hours. I need to eat a snack every 4 holes or so.

The plan was: 4HY, 8 iron, PW, pitch on.

I tried to play ready golf and topped my 4HY 60 yards, nearly into the hazard. My provisional ball was of course, in the fairway, dead straight.

I hit my 8 iron great out of the crap that my ball was in and through the fairway into the scrub on the hill. That meant I had to pitch back into the fairway.

Then I chunked my 6 iron — why i hit 6 instead of my hybrid, I don’t know. So i then hit my 8 iron –good but blocked out a bit. That left me a SW over the bunker where I missed  right. I tried to putt chip it on and barely got onto the green. So then I missed my 4y short and finally in for a 9.

I went back and tried a SW chip for my second try instead of a putt chip — almost holed it and ended within 1y.

So I lost a stroke to playing ready golf unnecessarily. And I lost a stroke to being cute when I have that shot that I didn’t take. I was trying to putt it close through a lot of scrub.

+2 tee

+1 approach

+1 chip

Really it was +2 ready golf and +1 for par 5 dumbness.

This one really didn’t help me out. I was starting to feel a little frustration.

Hole 15

This is a long par 4, but wide open. There’s water very far right and OB very far left. Last time, I got a bogey after an excellent bunker play.

The original plan was to hit hybrid off the tee and then hybrid to the green. When I got there, I figured that since it was so wide open, there was little risk from a driver — so I hit driver to middle of fairway about 200+ yards. I hit a 7 iron on approach so I didn’t go into the bunker. I didn’t go into the bunker. That left me a SW 20y shot that I hit to within 1 yard.

Then I 3-putted. I marked my ball though :\

I should have been planning to 2 putt not to 1 putt it. Or I should have just made it. Double bogey.

+2 putting

Those two holes were really discouraging. Surprise surprise that I checked my score shortly before hole 14… is there any doubt that influenced my mind?

Hole 16

The plan… I forget what the plan was. This is a par 4, not quite as long as hole 15 but still pretty long. There’s a bunch of crap right and a hazard left. Last time, I got myself in trouble and had a 7.

I hit driver because I thought it would help and help me stay away from the crap on the left.

I did give myself 170y in to the green, but I sliced it into the scrub right.

So then I hit my 8 iron trying to get to the fairway and instead back into the scrub. So then I chunked my PW 20y but finally found grass. That meant I could pitch it on from 50y out. Leaving me a 5y putt, which I missed short. Then missed short again. Finally in.

Another 3-putt. And golf is hard not on grass. Put me down for another 7.

+1 on tee

+1 on approach

+1 on chip

+1 on putting

Hooray.

Hole 17

If you thought we were dragging before, we were really dragging. The first 14 holes probably took us about 3 hours. The last 4 holes took us 2 hours.

Hole 17 is a par 5. It has water right and a drainage ditch left. Plan was hybrid hybrid hybrid and did I mention I was going to hit my hybrid?

I had a good swinging hybrid that I drew into some crap left of the fairway but not in the water (I found that out later). My provisional ball was wonderful — middle of the fairway. But I found my ball.

But then I made a bad choice. I hit a punch shot with my 7 iron. That goes like 100 yards plus. I have never hit it before. My angle toward the fairway had maybe 70 yard to the water right. The smart choice would be to hit SW into the fairway to allow me to hit up toward the green.

Instead I hit directly into the hazard. I dropped and had about 120 left to the pin and the shot was from the rough in between two trees. I grabbed my rescue club, the 8 iron. And I hit it to the fringe.

I hit my SW on to the green because the pin was way in the back — but i left myself 12 yards for bogey. I missed the 12 yard putt and then missed the next putt and finally put it in for a triple. Sigh.

That was +2 for dumb

+1 for tee

+1 for approach (that 8 iron saved a stroke for sure)

+1 for putting

Hole 18

The last hole took about 30 minutes. Great 4hybrid that ran through the fairway to some crap. I hit out of the crap with a good 8 iron leaving a 50y pitch to the hole. I chunked it into the bunker.

Good bunker shot to 5y out though.

Missed the 5y putt long but made it for a double.

+1 tee shot

+1 approach

56 on the back and the downhill started on 14. I will eat something on 13 from now on.

Lost 6 strokes off the tee, 5 strokes on approach, 2 strokes chipping, and 7 strokes putting.

Really though, I lost 2 strokes to ready golf, 2 strokes to a 7 iron punch shot that I have never hit before in my life, and 2 strokes on a 1-yard 3 putt. Without those — I would have shot a 50!

But hey, golf is hard. I had a really great time. I hit my clubs really well and not moving my head helped a lot — but don’t think i’ve done that before. My body is really tired from making movements I hadn’t before.

Last time I had 70+ strokes on the course. This time, I had 61 strokes — that’s a winning proposition.

Looked at putting a bit later and it was bad: I was 71% under 2 yards which is about normal. I felt bad about it because my bad putts were all at the end. EDIT (even later): 71% from under 2 yards is the worst I’ve done from that distance in quite some time.

Really it was 2-7 yards where I struggled. Only 6 of 15 putts were good. My most common miss was short, which I think was from a lack of practice.

Additional notes:

This was a great day. I was focused on having a good time first, not moving my head second, and my score third. Well I wasn’t concerned about my score until hole 14 — you fool!

I had some trouble putting on the back 9 – added 6 strokes there. My tee shots were good but kept getting me into trouble. I think this is a demonstration on how poorly i usually hit my tee shots — i hit it really well this day but i never do that!

There were maybe 8 shots that cost me around 20 strokes. LOL!

My best score on a championship course — and that’s with more lost balls than last time. Hey there!”

Best shots

1. Putt on 3 lol

2. approach shot on hole 4 — 150 yard 8 iron. Really, all of hole 4.

3. PW on hole 6 to 2-3y

4. Rescue shot on hole 7 to get to a good lie

5. Flop on hole 9

6. Hole 12 tee shot

7. Hole 15 driver, then pitch

8. Hole 16 4th shot

9. Hole 17 8 iron through the trees

Compared to last time

Compared to last time, I had significantly better full swings, many more pitch shots, and better chips. The real issue was my putting: it was much worse than last time and all the better shots I had were negated by the worse putts. So it is good to work on putting.

This really was my worst putting performance in a long time.

Golfing at Arrowood Golf Course on May 23 or Why You Shouldn’t Look At Your Score

Went with my brothers-in-law and my father-in-law. 1:30pm tee time that got moved up about 9 minutes because we were ready and the people behind us were not

I warmed up putts (maybe 70 putts) and full swings (45 or so) but didn’t get the chipping practice in I wanted to. On the range, we were hitting on mats which never does me good. I hit my pitch shots well but my full swings, especially with my 4hy were not good.

Round goals:

  • Have fun. Remember this is your leisure time so you’re already doing well.
  • Shoot 107 or better
  • Play like you practiced on Sunday 5/16!
  • Have a chance at Par on a Par 5
  • Get it on the green!
  • Have a chance at bogey on hole 13. 
  • Avoid the water on 16.
  • DON’T CHECK YOUR SCORE UNTIL THE END OF THE ROUND!

Hole 1

Par 4 that runs downhill after about 250 yards. There are bunkers left and right and a lateral hazard right of the hole.

My plan was to hit a 4hybrid off the tee and the left fairway bunker. Then I would hit a 6 iron to an 8 iron toward the green and pitch it on. Goal was a bogey.

Instead, I topped my 4hy into the lateral hazard. Good times.

I reteed and hit my 4hy into the fairway to 163 out. I then hit a thin 6 iron from the fairway to 42y out on the rough.

In a theme for the day, I hit my sand wedge 40 yards and it ran off into the fringe. I had a good 9y putt chip that missed 2y long. I did make the 2 yard putt for a … 7.

So certainly 2 strokes lost off the tee. Half a stroke lost on approach; half a stroke on the chip. -1 stroke for putting.

Hole 2

Straightaway par 5. 550 yards from the gold tees that we were playing. There are bunkers left and bunkers right. But left has OB and right is a hazard. However, it’s quite wide.

My plan was to hit a 4hybrid off the tee, then a 6 iron short of the right fairway bunkers to leave me with around 100 to 120 yards on approach.

Decided to hit driver because there wasn’t much downside. I drew the driver and … landed on the cart path, sending it soaring into someone’s backyard, a lateral hazard. That was an unlucky bounce. My reteed driver went straight as an arrow, 248 yards from the pin in the fairway. So technically a FIR!

I hit my 8 iron to about 100 yards out ( a great 8 iron shot to get there). But unfortunately, I forgot that balls roll on the fairway so I ended up about 90 yards out. I hit my PW 112 yards which put me on the green with a 22 yard long downhill putt. I missed that absurd shot 5 yards short. Then I missed the 5y putt to 1 foot and I made that.

So that’s an 8. 2 strokes off the tee. And I think a half shot on approach and a half shot on putting.

Hole 3

Straightaway par 3 with bunkers left and bunkers right. Pin was in front and the tee was pretty short, so I hit an 8 iron. My plan was 8 iron to 6 iron, depending on pin position and tee position.

My 8 iron was just thin and therefore just short of the green, leaving my 14 yards uphill with a sand wedge.

Wedged it on to within 2y and then missed the 2 yard putt. Made the 1 footer coming back for bogey. But that’s PAR for me on this hole.

Hole 4

Hole 4 is a straightaway par 4 with a very slight dogleg at the end. The big feature is a huge bunker about 150 yards from the hole, on a slight hill. It’s become a grass bunker now, but I wanted to be well short of it — because I didn’t have confidence I make it over it.

The plan was to hit an 8 iron off the tee, and 8 over the bunker and a PW on.

Hit a great 8 iron to the fairway and then a better 8 iron approach to about 50 yards out. I hit my SW just short of the green. I needed to carry 42 to the front of the green carried 40 yards. Terrible bounce so I was in the rough. I chipped it to within 3 yards (I had 20 yards to go) and didn’t get a good bounce. That left me a 3y uphill putt that I just missed. In for a double bogey — but that’s a par for me on that hole.

Missing the pitch and missing the chip hurt a bit, but sometimes you get unlucky. I got unlucky two times in a row. A bit longer pitch and a bit better lie would have meant I probably could have saved the second putt.

Hole 5

There’s a huge bunker up the left side and a grass bunker at the end of the fairway. Then there’s a slight dogleg left approaching the pin. Best I’ve ever done on this hole is a 6 which indicates how tough it is.

My plan was to aim at the grass bunker and hit a nice, smooth 4HY, leaving me an 8 iron to PW into the middle of the green.

Instead, I took a huge chunk with my 4HY and put it away for the rest of the game. A great 6 iron put me 124 from the pin … into a divot. I hit out of the divot onto the green, 12 yards from the hole. I missed that 2 yards short and then in for a bogey. Yay! A new record!

Lost a stroke off the tee. Gained it back on approach though.

Hole 6

Really short Par 4. It’s maybe 240 to the hole from the tee, but a pond protects the green left and it’s a lateral hazard behind the hole. Every time I have hit anything other than an iron, I’ve gone long.

There’s also a bunker protecting the landing area on the right side.

My plan was to hit a 6 iron over the bunker to give me an easy approach shot of about 100 yards.

Instead, I flushed my 6 iron about 170 yards with a little draw. I went through the fairway on a bad bounce and into the rough. I had about 50 yards in and I hit my SW a LITTLE long. It ran out onto the fringe.

I had a 12yard putt chip that I putt to 2 yards out; good pace though. I then missed the 2 yard putt out right and had a horseshoe putt.

I then made the third putt for a double bogey.

Hole 7

Pretty straightaway par 4 with bunkers right, lateral hazard left. The pin is tucked right, protected by a bunker left.

My plan was that I’d hit a hybrid off the tee and then an 8 iron to the green, aiming at the left side.

Since the hybrid was in the bag for the rest of the round, I had a decision. Hit driver and risk topping it into the lateral hazard that protects the front of the tee box? Or hit 6 iron and maybe give me some awkward distances?

I hit 6 iron and man did I give myself an awkward distance. I hit it great! But I aimed/drew the shot left into the lateral hazard scrub. I hit a provisional 6 iron off the tee that was very thin and very terrible because I thought left was OB, but ended up picking that up when I saw it was red-staked. I was going to take a drop — and then I found my ball! I was giddy.

Punched it out of the hazard with my PW to the fairway leaving me a good 8 iron distance. I then hit my 8 iron to the green, leaving myself an 18 yard putt.

I blocked out the 18 yard putt right — completely misread the break. Like, I read it opposite from how it went. So I was pin high but 5 yards right. Then I missed the 5y remaining putt short leaving 2 yards out. I missed that 2-yarder and then completed the 4-putt.

Hilariously, I won that hole with a 7. Everyone else had to drop and take penalty strokes because they lost their balls.

Hole 8

Hole 8 is a very uphill par 3 that was playing super short: front pin position and tee box very up. So I hit my 8 iron about a ¾ swing JUST short of the green. Then I made a 10y chip with my SW leaving me 1.5 yards. My chance for PAR!

Nope! I missed the 1.5 yard putt by a half centimeter (it bounced off the lip) and then made it for bogey.

Interestingly, this hole has an enormous bunker guarding the green left. My brother-in-law hit his ball in there. He did not get it out. He hit 5 shots.

On shot 4 from the bunker, I helpfully told him that he could drop behind the bunker for a 2-stroke penalty. He responded by very rudely hitting the ball at me. He did get out of the bunker but the damage was done. My heart will never be fixed. Nor will my feelings.

He didn’t hit me though.

Hole 9

Hole 9 is a bit of a nemesis. It’s a long, uphill par 5. My plan was to just hit 6 iron a whole bunch.

Instead, I decided to hit driver off the tee because … i don’t know… Realistically, the tee box wasn’t protected by a hazard or scrub and I figured if I topped it, I’d be okay.

So I topped the driver off the tee but it was in play and in the fairway (FIR). So I hit a beautiful provisional ball that was the longest drive. Yay…

Fortunately, my second shot took me to where my drive ended up and then another beautiful 6 iron left me just 75 out.

Then I went way too long with my PW. That seems to be my miss with my pitching wedge. I remember thinking that going long was okay. I hit it nice and straight but didn’t align properly.

It was not a good place to be: Above the hole, in the rough, side lie, and next to a bunker. Green was a little short sided and sloped away downhill. I’d have preferred to be in the bunker, honestly.

But I was there, lying stroke 5. I had to try to score. (I did not and should not have tried this).

Why? Well, what happened was I tried an impossible flop shot that I duffed. It got me to a much better chip, which I then managed to put onto the green. Another horseshoe putt (this one from 3 yards) and finally in for an 8.

Front 9

The front 9 was pretty tough. I shot 55. I hit the fairway 4 times on 9 tries. Really, my downfall was that I had to take 4 extra shots off the tee, plus 2 penalty strokes. (Hole 1, Hole 2, Hole 5’s chunky tee shot, Hole 9’s topped tee shot). The duffed chip on 9, the misread on 7, the 2 horseshoe putts and missing the 1.5y putt didn’t help either.

The bad decisions I could improve were aiming left on hole 7 and reading the green right there (2 strokes) — and then the duff chip. But it all came down to screwing up the tee shots.

Hole 10

Hole 10 is downhill and wide open. There’s a bunker right and some trees that separate Hole 10 from Hole 1.

My original plan was to hit 4HY onto the right side of the fairway and then hit 8 iron to PW on. I decided to hit driver because it was so wide open. A topped shot wouldn’t be too bad.

I misaligned my driver and hit it straight but right at the fairway bunker right. But I wasn’t in the bunker — under some trees though.

So I punched it onto the fairway with my 8 iron. Well, I punched it through the fairway. I was in the rough 30 yards from the hole, trying to go over a large bunker.

I then hit my luckiest shot of the day. I had to maybe hit it 19 yards to clear the lip of the bunker. I hit it 19.1 yards and had the ball roll onto the green about 7 yards out.

Missed very close with the 7 yard putt and got it in for bogey. That was my best, longest putt of the day so far. I’d also made 2 2-yard putts too.

Hole 11

A short, uphill par 3. I hit a thin 8 iron that just rolled onto the green, leaving me 16 feet from the front flat pin. I missed the birdie putt 1 yard long but made it coming back for Par. My first green in reg! (Okay, by my measure, I had a GIR on Hole 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 because of how I’m trying to visualize it). But this was the first legit one! First PAR, too.

So that’s 2 really good putts in 2 holes!

Hole 12

This is a hard hole. There’s a huge bunker right to collect tee shots that slice. The fairway is open left, but at the end of the fairway, there’s about a 100 yard valley of rough that slopes toward a lateral hazard. They cut down some of the trees in the hazard which makes it easier … but it’s still real hard. I got an 11 last time because I hit through the fairway into the hazard.

So my plan was to hit it onto the left side, pitch it to the end of the FW, and then go for the green with shot 3.

Instead, I chunked a 6 iron onto the fairway, then hit a pure 8 iron through the fairway. That was very scary. Fortunately, my ball JUST rolled through the fairway and had an okay lie in the rough. I missed right with my PW into the rough. Fortunately, it was an okay lie. Unfortunately, I chipped it way long leaving me 15 yards to the pin on the putting green.

I missed the 15y putt to the right. Then I missed the 2 yard putt and finally made it. 

A 7. All according to plan. :/ Always great to have 4 strokes from 15 yards.

Hole 13

Hole 13 is a par 5 that I always seem to screw up. It’s not that long! I just always seem to lose a ball. My best on this hole is an 8 — but it’s an EASY PAR 5! This has always frustrated me. It is very straight. There are not a lot of bunkers or challenges.

So I had a plan to take my time. Hit a 4HY short of a (now non-existent) waste area. 4hy or 6 iron or even 8 iron from the waste area and then get me to 100 yards for my excellent pitching wedge swing.

Instead, I hit a 6 iron that I chunked into the fairway. I hit a provisional driver at least 250 yards. SIGH.

Instead of taking that drive, I topped my 6 iron up the fairway. Then i hit a good 6 iron about 150 yards leaving me 120 yards to the pin. I hit a good, pin high PW shot (for shot 4!) that leaked out right. Or I aimed it that way.

I was in the rough around the green and I chipped it to 4 yards out from 20 yards long. I missed the 4y putt leaving me 1.5 yards, which I made. A 7! A new personal record!!!! And I certainly had a chance at bogety with a 4 yard putt.

Honestly, the error on this hole happened on the tee. A top would have been better than a chunk. I’ll hit driver on this hole next time.

Hole 14

Hole 14 is  a straightaway par 4 with a very slight dogleg left at the end, with a huge swale before the green. Original plan was hybrid to the fairway and then 8 iron on.

Instead, I crushed a driver almost through the fairway. Why driver? Because it was downhill and a top wouldn’t be a problem. No joke, I hit it like 280 yards. I had 50 yards to the green. I hit my SW a little long of the pin, leaving me a 15y downhill putt. I lagged that to 1.5y and made it for PAR. That felt good.

Hole 15

Hole 15 has the potential to be very tricky. It’s a par 3 with a lot of bunkering and a 2-tier green. I waffled between 6 and 8 iron, going with 8 iron because it was quite short. I then chunked my 8 iron into the fairway and then topped my PW 18y short of the pin in the rough. Avoided the bunkers which claimed Ken (who got it out when he aimed at me).

I sand wedged it on to 3y long and just missed the 3y putt by 4 inches. In for a double-bogey. I didn’t win the hole because Jake’s had a great pitch shot on to 1 foot, allowing him to bogey.

Hole 16

Hole 16 is brutal. It has a fairly blind fairway, downhill leading to an island green. The tee box was up and there wasn’t a lot of scrub in front of it, so I hit a very easy driver that ran down the fairway. Unfortunately, it set me up at about 170 yards out. I cannot make that shot, so I laid up to 110 yards out with my SW.

I hit a great 110 yard pitching wedge that stuck on the green 10 yards short. I missed the 10 yard putt, then missed the 2 yard putt and finally made it for a double bogey. HOwever, I’ve never done better than 7, so I’ll take it.

That’s another accomplished goal! Stayed out of the water.

Hole 17

Hole 17 was my downfall. Why? I checked my score before this hole and realized OH, i am shooting a 91! (It was actually a 92)

I decided to hit driver to “give myself a chance” at making par. Why!?

This hole is long with a dogleg left that goes sharply uphill. There’s a grass bunker at about 200 yards to collect driver shots. And in front of the bunker and left there’s a lateral hazard. You hit over the hazard. This is not a hole for me to hit driver.

My plan was to hit a 6 iron at the bunker and then a 6 iron over the bunker and then pitch on.

Instead, I hit driver into the hazard. Then I hit driver into the grass bunker. And then I hit a chunk with my PW over the bunker.

So not I am lying 5 and I hit my 8 iron ot the end of the fairway. SW went long again, leaving me 23 yards, downhill, on a two-tiered green. I missed the putt only 4 yards long. I missed the 4 yarder and finally in for a 9. Not breaking 100 today.

Stupid checking my score.

Hole 18

Hole 18 is a wide open par 4 with bunkers left and bunkers right. The green is protected by a lake in front and has rough all along the water.

My plan was to hit it into the middle of the fairway with a 4 hybrid, then keep it short of the water to leave myself about 100 yards to the green.

Instead, I crushed a driver to leave my 150 yards out. I decided to go for it … and topped it about 120 yards. I needed it to carry 140. So into the water hazard. Gah.

Dropped 4 and hit my Sand Wedge on to 2.5 yards. I missed that 1 inch right and made it in for a double bogey.

Back 9

So that’s a 52 on the back 9 for 107 total.

The back 9 was much better than the front 9. Hole 12’s chipping error definitely hurt as did the tee shot on hole 13. Hole 15’s tee shot and then top PW also hurt as did my bad miss on Hole 16. Hole 17’s bad decision making parade also was a debacle, I think it cost me 3 strokes because I got into my own head.

Finally, going for it on 18 was dumb. I should have laid up to a better distance over the water. Oh well.

I hit 6 of 8 possible fairways and 2 of 9 greens. I also did much better with regard to course management (hole 17 & 18 excepted) — and that shows in the score. I gave myself a chance. Alas. 

I mean, I really did. I had a 9 and a 7!

Honestly, the problems with this round were the hazards and the bad play off the tee. If I had just been able to hit my tee shots well or at least thin rather than topping or chunking them, I would have had 12 fewer strokes. That is galling.

Adding everything up, I had 59 shots from the course and 44 putts (and putt chips) — and 4 hazards hit. I stayed out of the sand and really torpedoed my score when looking at hole 17. That’s the problem with the golfpad app, I think: it makes it so easy to see what you’re scoring and be mindful of that.

I had a really good time, despite the struggles I had off the tee. I didn’t stick to may gameplan as well as I would have liked and I’ve learned that I really, really should rely on my 8 iron. I had just 1 chunk with the 8 iron and that was when I waffled on the choice and chunked it. Everything else was useful.

Putting continues to be a challenge. I made 18 of 24 putts from within 2 yards, including several 2 yard putts. But those are really the distances I need to try to nail down. I’m hititng the green sooner but I’m not hitting the green in places that make it easy to score. I had to hit 7 putts of longer than 10 yards. That’s really hard and I’m not sure how to improve there.

I had just 1 miss from within 7 yards that was not useful and, while I didn’t make any from within 4 yards that were longer than 2 yards, I always gave myself a shot to finish with another putt.

I think I’ll just keep practicing putting. I think I’ll also forgo my next round in favor of a lesson. I’d like to get better consistency with my full swings. I also need to just practice pitch shots a bit more, I think.

My best shots were:

  1. Finishing putt on Hole 1 to help reset a bit.
  2. Excellent driver on Hole 2’s second tee shot. (I could have dropped which I should have done probably)
  3. Back to back 8 irons on Hole 4.
  4. Good 6 iron recovery on Hole 5 and then a good 8 iron on the green.
  5. 8 iron to the green on 7.
  6. 6 irons to make up distance on Hole 9
  7. GIR to Par on hole 11
  8. Dat drive on Hole 14! And the par, too.
  9. Good management on Hole 16 — I had a shot at par.
  10. Good pitch on Hole 18.

Even despite my struggles off the tee, I managed to cut my strokes on the course by 2 from oceanside muni. My putting was better, even if the number of putts were the same as last time. I did have 2 horseshoe putts and a 4 putt.

Man! Looking at it, my pitches hurt a lot: I only made 3 of the 9 pitch shots I had. So I really need to work on distance control there.

My 9 pitch shots led to 150 yards of putts. If I could halve that and make me have to make an average of a 9 yard putt instead of a 15 yard putt, I think I probably would have led to 7 fewer putts.

That and better consistency off the tee would help. I was not fully committed to many shots and frequently tried to overswing (I think). But it was a fun time and I can see the improvement coming. Eventually.

Comparing it to other rounds, it was a very good 107. I did the best I’ve ever done on a championship course for Par 3s with a bogey average. I tied my best Par 5 score. I also had a significant number of good and useful strokes. It was actually my highest percentage. The issue was my tee shots: I had basically 9 extra tee shots. I did manage to keep it in the fairway for the most part and had pretty good putts. The problem was that I had a lot of really long distances to go so even if I had good putts, they had to make up a lot of ground.

This was my best chipping performance but it’s probably because I had a lot of pitch shots into greens that just rolled off.

For next time:

  • If there’s a risk of going into the scrub, hit 8 iron since you know that’ll make it over the scrub: that would save 4 strokes (tee + drop on 1 and 17 strokes!)
  • Take drops when they’re available. Dropping 3 on hole 2 would not have saved many strokes… but that’s just because I hit a tee shot bomb on the retee. That’s not a realistic expectation every time.
  • Keep working on the 2 yard putts. I made 75% of them, missing 7. If i had made 3 more of them, that would have been … you know, 3 to 4 strokes.

Don’t Separate Immigrant Children From Their Parents

I just wrote this to my congressman:

 

Dear Mr. Issa,

Please work to actively oppose the Trump Administration’s reprehensible actions at the border, separating children from their parents, and their “zero tolerance” policy toward these people and their parents. These actions are morally repugnant and pervert the rule of law.

Please support any legislation that makes the practice of separating immigrants from their children illegal.  Please seek to curtail this practice.

Please seek to remove from any government capacity those who have advocated for and implemented this policy by whatever means are available to you, up to and including impeachment.

The attorney general lately twisted the meaning of Romans 13 to justify his horrifying decisions. I would counter with the parable of the sheep and the goats:

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

John Earnest

How many calories are in one cous cous?

Is it worth it to lick the plate?

If something is so good that you want to lick the plate, you should probably just go ahead and lick the plate. Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

The other day, I was eating some cous cous from a lunch receptacle that trapped small amounts of cous cous in little pockets of the lunch receptacle (not a plate). After spending far, far too long chasing around one or two cous couses, I wondered: Why?

I like cous cous a lot. But not enough to eat it if I’m spending more calories chasing the cous cous around the plate than it will provide me as a digested foodstuff.

So what is the caloric value of one cousi cousi?

My cous cous box tells me that one serving of cous cous is 160 calories for 45 grams.

 

Target brand cous cous nutritional label

Target brand cous cous nutritional label. Cropped to remove the stain on my table.

So I weighed 45 grams of cous cous and realized that while I am interested in figuring out the answer to this question, I am not interested in counting 45 grams worth of cous cous.

45 g of cous cous

45 grams of cous cous

So let’s try 5 g of cous cous. How many couses are present?

5g of cous cous

5 grams of cous. At this point I was very intimidated.

This is 200 cous cous. It is smaller than a dime.

200 cous cous compared to a dime.

200 cous cous. Smaller than a dime.

 

This is 1,000 cous cous. Incidentally, I’d never counted to 1,000 before.

1,000 cous cous compared with a dime.

I’m pretty sure this is my picture for 1,000 cous cous, not 400.

And there are 2,849 cous cous in 5g of cous cous. I’d probably say give a plus or minus of 100 just because … I counted them all and know I started counting fast at the end.

2,849 cous cous, a tally card, and a dime.

2,849 cous cous and my tally sheet for each 50. Ignore the popcorn on my tally sheet.

This is how many cous couses are in 5g of cous cous. There are 25,551 cous couses in one 45 gram serving of cous cous, give or take a thousand.

So since 45 g of cous cous is 160 calories, and 45 g of cous cous is 25,551 cous cous, than the caloric value of one grain of cous cous worth 0.00626 calories.

Is it worth it?

According to some excellent googling (“How many calories do I burn eating while sitting down?”), one burns 29 calories in an hour of eating. It takes 1.53 seconds to eat one cous cous (source: me turning on a stop watch, eating a cous cous, hitting stop).

So, per second, I’ll burn 0.0081 calories, sitting down eating (29/3600). Since it takes me 1.53s to eat a cous cous, eating a single cous cous burns me .0123 cal and gives me 0.00626 calories.

So don’t eat one cous cous. Make sure you eat at least three.

Suggestions Box

A coffee can gleamed from a bleached counter.  Only the waves and seabirds had welcomed it so far, and they were faint behind salt-flecked windows; from the crew, there had been nothing but wary silence.  The can invaded their personal space.  It was very new.  It was tackier than the mackerel the captain had stapled to the wall.  Someone had written on it, “Suggestions.”

“That,” Someone said, “is a suggestions can.”

The crew spun in their seats.  The speaker, a man, stood in the doorway, like a clothed and vengeful Zephyrus. When the whirl of napkins, spray, and steam ended, the captain became mortal again.  He smelled of fish.

His red-cumulus brows and tuft of hair floated like morning clouds above sea-gray eyes. Those eyes prophesied for Neptune and switched moods in a moment.  Death was in those eyes.

A Catholic among the salts averted his eyes and crossed himself surreptitiously under Captain’s Medusa-like glare.  Protestants and non-believers saw the movement and silently cursed the Reformation.  Ritual made Captain easier to deal with, a crucifix to his nautical Dracula.

“You can write a suggestion on a piece of paper, fold it up, and put it in here.”  Captain crossed to the counter as he spoke, lifted the can reverently, and pointed to a convenient slot cut in the plastic top.  An unwise person sniggered.

Captain dropped his gaze back to the room.  Silence again.

“Your suggestions will be kept confidential.”  The clink of tin on wood resonated uninterrupted.

Captain limped over to the ancient and pitted coffee pot.  With another glare, he filled his novelty mug and left.  Then the whispers began.

***

Captain smiled gently when he slammed the galley door and crossed the deck to the rail.  Any suggestion made would not be confidential; he recognized each man’s handwriting on the ship.  Soon, they would realize this.

Captain had invented the can the night before, after watching a something similar on his favorite sitcom.  Normally, Captain would read Moby-Dick in bed, but someone had stolen his copy.  The suggestions can would help punish the criminal: Captain would now be able to keel-haul the culprit.  Other than that, it was just searching.  Captain was not an especially cruel man, but he was very upset.

An explosion of noise occurred behind Captain as someone exited the cabin. Captain sipped his coffee.

“Yes, Jones?” Captain asked when the footsteps got close.

Paul Jones was the ship’s skinny, black-capped, university-educated, literature-inclined mate and occasional other book club member, although not recently.  Captain remembered this about Jones and had an idea.

“Permission to speak frankly, sir?” Jones asked. Captain turned around, grin gone.  Jones always spoke frankly and never asked for permission.  Captain nodded and the man continued quickly:

“Sir, I think that the idea to take suggestions may have come at an inappropriate time.”

Captain looked the slender mate over.  Something was obviously wrong with Jones; then again, Jones always had a problem.  The ocean, salt, religion, fish, discussing Melville.  Jones wrote his thesis on Moby-Dick, but had never answered any of Captain’s many questions about their mutually favorite work and author.

“Have you considered the possibility that someone might abuse this privilege? Sir?” Jones asked, hesitantly.  He must not have liked the added scrutiny, because he was squirming and turning green. “Anyone could suggest anything. There weren’t even any guidelines.”  The last bit was rather accusatory.

Captain placed a hand Jones’s wiggling shoulder and looked deep into Jones’s eyes.  “I’m not concerned with that. If someone suggests something stupid, I’ll know.  If someone suggests something brilliant, I’ll also know. Then I will dispense justice as I see fit.”

Dramatically, Jones shook free and turned his back.

“But… what about confidentiality?” Jones’s back asked.

“Jones, I have eyes, a working brain, and copies of every crewman’s handwriting.  How do you expect that to be confidential?”

Jones’s shoulders hunched. “But, I thought you’ve always said that a maritime democracy is a mutiny.  Every time we’ve tried for a vote”

“Enough, Jones.”  He’d let the man whine long enough. “The can stays.  Tell the crew not to worry. Also, put in a suggestion that the reading and possession of Moby-Dick is now mandatory.  Then meet me above.  We’ll discuss security up top, if that’s what’s bothering you.”  With that, Captain swept away toward the cabin and climbed the ladder to the navigation deck.

As he pulled himself up, Captain wondered about Jones’s insistent questioning.  Maybe I should have told him, he thought.  Captain resolved to check on the can that night to make sure that it wasn’t interfered with.

***

Paul Jones felt very ill as he watched Captain climb the ladder one-handed.  He hadn’t slept well the previous night and now his troubles were compounding.  At dinner, Captain had asked him another inane question about Moby-Dick (“Why is the captain so obsessed with that stupid whale?”).  That had forced him to break a solemn oath, made in the collegian naiveté, never to burn a book.  He thought it symbolic the way the flames consumed “Call me Ishmael.”  Then Paul went to sleep.

At about three in morning, Paul awakened from a dream in which he had fallen through nothingness next to a burning white whale who kept asking, “Why did you do this to me? Why?  He checked himself for extra arms or a carapace, but the unsettling dreams had not transmogrified him.  Disappointed, Paul sighed and tried to fall back asleep.

When the sheep got red hair and started asking him how to spell the word “I,” Paul stopped counting. Cursing and sweating, Paul pulled on his cap, went topside, and bee lined to the galley to banish his dreams with a special, university-developed blend. Then he saw the can.

Paul read it and pondered it as he mixed the ingredients.  He checked the mug when he felt light-headed enough, then added a few drops of cold coffee for palatability.  He threw the mixture back.

With many fewer brain cells, Paul read the can again.  It was a joke, obviously, or a hallucination.  As the sleeping potion began to set in, he wrote his recommendations on napkins and slipped them inside. Several of them had to do with alternative techniques for destroying dog-eared copies of Moby-Dick.  Then he stumbled to bed.

Paul awakened in the morning proper to a fit of sobriety.  He hurried into the galley to see the can shining bright and innocent in the morning light.

Frantically, Paul grabbed a bench and sat down.  He dropped his head into his hands and ignored any cautious greetings sent his way.  That was until he watched one of last night’s more obscene napkins wipe crumbs from another man’s mouth.  After that, Paul collapsed in dismay.

Most napkins were in the can, he knew.  Others were still in the napkin dispenserhow this happened or how he knew, Paul wasn’t sure. But he could see them.  And still others were roaming around the kitchen.

“I would suggest you move today, Jones!  You do like your job, right?”  Captain’s scream echoed over the deck and made Paul very anxious.

Quickly, Paul decided to remove his errant suggestions that night, while keeping a close eye on Captain during the day.  Wait! Paul silently told himself, you could volunteer to guard it tonight.  Considering this, Paul knew he had to make sure Captain didn’t see anything in that can.  Newly resolved and feeling less queasy, Paul climbed a ladder to be sprayed with insults, spittle, and future nightmares.

Paul’s impromptu plan was successful: Captain had assigned him the full night watch. In fact, a massive haul of fish that afternoon had made him particularly charitable, Captain said, so Paul would be protecting the ship’s democratic process.  Alone. For the entire night.  Eight hours. Ha ha.

Paul protested solely for appearance’s sake, but his vocal cords still throbbed from the shouting match he’d lost.  When no one was looking, Captain shot Paul a wink.  When Captain wasn’t looking, Paul stretched out his middle finger.

So Paul had been left to spend the night comforted by stars, a smell of fish, and that wretched can. Again and again, he told himself that he had planned this, but more and more he disliked it.  No one had even volunteered to keep him company.  Not that he would have accepted, but it still would have been nice.  Anyway, better get a move on

“Thought I’d keep you company, Paul.”  Paul started and cursed himself for inner turmoil. It was the ship’s boy, Billy.  If a mouse could be a boy, it would be Billy.  Billy was very brown, very small, very much ten, and not very bright.

“Not right for you to spend the whole four hours alone, sir,” Billy continued.  Paul ignored him.

This was probably the only ship that still had a boy.  Because of this, Paul wasn’t surprised when he found a whip and a sextant in Captain’s chambers.

“Oh, it’s nothing, Billy,” Paul said, breaking the boy’s commentary on loneliness. “I’ve kept many a long watch before this.”   He tried to get as much stoicism as he could into those words; he needed to be alone.  Usually, Paul liked the kid.  Now, this was turning out to be a problem.

“Yeah, but… it’s not fair, and that’s it.”  Billy seized Paul’s tone like a life raft; Paul had a horrific idea. A distraction would give him a chance to put the contents of the can into his pocket, and then he could jump into the water after the kid.  During the rescue, all Paul’s troubles would float away.

“Don’t worry, it’s fine.” Paul sighed and inched to the rail. “It’s all right.”

“No, it’s not.” Billy said after a long pause. “It’s not right at all.” Paul stopped and winced, following the kid’s train of thought.

“Hey, there’s that suggestions thing!” Billy said, after another break.  You had to be more than a little slow to remain on this ship, Paul thought moodily. “You could put something in there that says, um, ‘No night watches all alone.’ ”

“That’s a good idea Billy, but it probably won’t work.”

“Why not?”

“Because you need to go back to bed” wasn’t a good answer, so Paul didn’t give it.  Instead, he tried a mysterious tone with, “Because Captain would know.”

“Sorry Paul, but that doesn’t seem like a good reason,” Billy said, sagely. “Isn’t that the point of a suggesting something? Don’t you want it to be got? Why are you making that face?”

“Old… harpooning injury.  Big shark.  Little boat,” Paul lied. “Maybe I wasn’t clear enough, Billy.  If you write down a suggestion on a piece of paper and put it into that can, Captain will know, for sure, that it was you.”

“I thought you said they were anemones? That injury sure is hurting you a lot.  Does hitting your forehead help?”

“ ‘Anonymous,’ you little… observer, you.  That’s just a fancy way of keeping our names a secret.  But make one Captain doesn’t like, and he’ll make it hell for you.”

After another minute of water lapping: “Did you put in one you think he won’t like?”

“Maybe. Maybe someone else did.”

“You should take it out.”

“Who says I put one in?”

“You did.  Right before I came up.  You’ve been muttering about it all day.  Anyway, I thought Moby Dick was the captain’s favorite. You’re a smart man, Paul.  You’ve got it figured out. Why would a book be a problem?  Paul?  That must be a bad injury, for you to be crying like that.”

***

Paul finally ditched the kid when the sky was lightening.

After the exhaustion-induced breakdown end, Billy forced Paul into the galley, fixed him a cosmopolitan, and made Paul tell him the story of Jaws.  Just when Paul thought it was safe to move for the can, Billy woke up and asked to be told about Moby Dick.  Paul then proceeded to recite his thesis.  When dawn was just breaking, the kid dropped off.

With great stealth, Paul rose from his bench and crept toward the wood on which the can lay, unassuming and unaware.  Like a hunter, Paul stalked his static quarry.  Like a graverobber, he carefully got into position, the can his targeted idol. One hand on it…

“Ishmael is obviously a pseudonym.  What does pseudonym mean, Paul?” Billy asked, loudly, in his sleep.

Paul jumped two feet in the air.  He landed in a fighting crouch and leapt forward.  The can had been propelled by his surprise, and it tap danced away.  It pirouetted when it reached the end of the counter, winked at him in the morning light, and plunged.

Paul cursed softly but remained still.  A sympathetic gonging noise only made him cringe more.  The can rolled with a crescendo until it enthusiastically greeted a table leg with a loud pop.  The contents of the can shot toward the sky and covered the cabin with a white film and fluttering. Paul held his breath.

“Wha?” The noise had been loud enough to wake Billy. “What happened, Paul?  What did you–” Billy had apparently never studied sign language, because he ignored Paul’s frantic gesticulations for quiet. Captain slept right below the kitchen.

“Damn it all to hell!” screamed the voice below decks. “Run up the hoister and set the jig! Pull the ropes aft!  Someone’s going to be missing their ribs tonight!”  Paul head sunk into his chest as the cacophony increased.  He was doomed.

With the clarity that comes to the mortally wounded it was only a matter of time Paul noticed every detail.

“You little stinker!”

“You bastard!” Paul screamed and rose from the fetal position. “Your head’s gonna roll!”

***

Captain was surprised.  He’d never seen Paul Jones this angry, and he’d made Jones livid several times before.  With each angry outburst, Captain thought Jones might burst blood vessels in his face. Jones’ temper was over the boiling point; it was vaporizing.

“What exactly did you say happened, Mr. Jones?” Captain wasn’t used to honestly asking questions, and so sounded like a teenaged suitor. He wondered briefly if he’d been too hard on Jones the night before. What had made the man crack?

Jones spat on his captive as a way of pointing.  The poor man couldn’t move much anyway.  Captain suspected he had a broken leg or two.  Captain also suspected who was at fault. “This felon was tampering with the suggestions can!” Jones said.

Captain was surprised.  He’d always thought “felon” was a compliment.  Unsure, he proceeded with tact:

“I see.”

The eyebrow wrinkle that accompanied the polite nothing usually was enough. This time, of course, it did nothing.  Jones appeared at a loss for what to do next, so he shook the criminal as best he could. Captain peered closer.  The culprit was Ishmael, a well-scrubbed man, with a pink, teardrop face and body, calm demeanor and easy laugh.  Captain had hired him for his surname and his tendency not to flinch when looked at.  However, he was not one Captain pegged as a dissenter or a saboteur. Albeit now, he definitely looked like one…

Captain furrowed his forehead.  The rest of the crew shrank back.  He noticed several, in addition to Rodriguez, making the Sign of the Cross.  While that was unimportant now, Captain always felt hurt, on the inside, when they did that. Like he was unholy.  He’d never blasphemed in his life, though he’d cursed a bit…

Jones started screaming again.

“Thank you, Mr. Jones,” Captain said, after it sounded like Jones was done.  He didn’t want Ishmael getting too close to the rail and there was no telling what Jones might do.  “You will release Mr. Ishmael. Your desire to protect our beloved instrument of democracy will not go unnoticed.  Perhaps I’ll heed the suggestion.”

Jones stopped in mid-breath.  Terror surged to his cheeks.  Captain hadn’t done that to Jones in years.  What caused that? Captain wondered. He hadn’t put that much menace into the tone.

Captain threw his eyes over the crew, each man shivering.  Even the man on the rail, who added a guilty look that said, “What, me abandon ship?  How could you Oh, I just thought I saw a big fish in the distance.  Marlin, or something.  Chased by an old guy.  Talking to himself.  But it was nothing.”  Captain nodded when the man carefully returned to deck.

Jones was stiff as a board.  Captain stepped forward and noticed the wince.

“Got something you want to say, Mr. Jones?” Captain asked quietly, over the sounds of wind and water.

Jones shook his head.  Captain let the glare linger for a bit, before turning his back.

“Mr. Ishmael, stand up.”  At the poor man’s plaintive movement, Captain said, “Okay, sit up then.”  The deep breath Captain took in was like a low-pressure system moving air away.  A faint noise behind him meant that Jones had noted the barometer dropping fast.

“You will tell me exactly what you were doing when Mr. Jones encountered you, Mr. Ishmael,” Captain said, in his authoritative voice. He added, without turning: “Mr. Jones, you will be allowed to speak in your own time.  I do not want you interfering with Mr. Ishmael’s testimony.  At all.  In your own time, Mr. Ishmael.”  Captain sat on a barrel and did his best to look attentive.  Ishmael squirmed, before the glare forced him to speak.

“Well, sir, I was just trying to make a suggestion before anyone else woke up.  I didn’t want to be disturbed, so…”

***

Paul shivered uncontrollably.  Since Captain had relented his glare, Paul had been furiously checking and rechecking his memory, trying to remember if Captain had surprised him, more than normal, at any time in the last day.  Paul’s terror was fueled by a growing but indeterminate fear.  Had Captain heard anything?  Paul wondered.  Maybe after dinner?

Regret was now cancerous, affecting Paul’s psyche.  Paul had never regretted anything more in his life, than the moment he…  Paul thought bitterly for a moment about his love life, then finished: … took this job…

Someone said something and Paul became very uneasy.  Like a piece of meat at a vegan convention.  he looked up.

“Would you like to tell us what you were doing, Jones?” Captain asked with a peculiar look on his face.  Something with both rage and glee.  “I understand that you were covering the midnight watch, but I also understood that you were sane at the time that I assigned it to you.”

Paul stared back, doing his best to look harmless and encourage Alzheimer’s.  Surely Captain was old enough…

“Are you deaf, Jones?  Are you actually insane?”

“No sir.”  Paul prepared himself for a torrent of obscenity.

“Really?  Because I might say that snapping a bastard’s leg in two places for no damn reason is a sign of insanity!”

Paul didn’t know how to respond.  He’d never been called just a bastard before.  Captain was so angry that he was actually having trouble swearing.  Maybe he’d been stung by a bee in the throat, something.  Anaphylactic shock, caused by anger. Captain had already started to make a whistling noise, probably from the pent-up rage.  He sounded like a kettle.

***

Paul opened his eyes and saw a bright light.  Elation  and smugness at the afterlife came a moment before a splitting pain in Paul’s jaw and the appearance of a face that persuaded Paul his criticisms of Christianity were quick, unsubstantiated, and wrong.  He was in Hell. Captain, it turned out, was Lucifer, the Fallen Morning Star.

“Lazarus, a drop of water!” Paul cried, eyes shut in hope of diminishing the pain.  The sound came from his mouth, and Paul was surprised at his vocal chords.  He had not expected them to exist in spirit.  His nose was working, too, and he smelled fish.  Suspicion caught up with him; at that moment too, did the realizations of what he had done, of mercy, of penitence, of stupidity, and of a bucket of water in the face.

“You want some water, Jones?” Captain bellowed.  “I’ll give you the ocean!  The whole stinkin’ sea!”

Paul found himself lifted into the air by a very mighty hand and realized that humility was his only recourse.

“Open your eyes, boy!”  Paul did so.

There was Captain’s face, close up and bouncing with every shake.  Personal. Paul could see the man’s (or demon’s, Paul still wasn’t sure) pores, burgeoning capillaries and every follicle of rage-reddened hair.  Captain’s eyes were streaking, but not with tears.  Paul wondered, vaguely and fuzzily, if he would be asked to recount his sins.  He hoped not.  He didn’t think he could remember them all.

“Tell me, Jones,” Captain said in a soft voice, “what were you thinking?”  Captain was holding the can.  Neurons hesitantly began to relay messages to a concussed mind.

“What were you thinking, Jones?” Captain repeated, a little louder. “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”

Paul’s ears rang and he watched himself flounder in the stormy irises.  He’d always known he was going to die, but … well, he thought bitterly, really only one person actually knew… and he’d been a fool enough not to change it…

“One treat, after all these years, Jones?  One open ear to mutiny and you cripple a man? I’ll give you what you deserve, Jones. I’ll give you all you ever wanted. Oh, and I’m not listening, so stop moaning!  Crying never helped anyone!”

Paul closed his eyes again.  Frantically, he tried to compose a sufficient prayer, that would incorporate all possible loopholes.  I’m sorry for blaspheming you, God, Jesus, Muhammed, Buddha, Whoever You Are… He felt his stomach enter his chest and realized his idiocy.  Then he hit water, hard.

Paul struggled in the darkness.  Whatever allegory his subconscious might compose, he couldn’t see it ending well.  Tyranny had won, regardless, he thought, so he might as well surface.  The water was numbingly cold, he might as well go toward the light…

“And take this with you!” greeted Paul’s ears as he broke the surface.  Something hit him in the head, and the darkness came back, slowly. Paul was afraid, because he remembered two things.  He’d seen triangular fins in the water.  And “blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Paul trembled before he sank.

***

“What was it he said, sir, when he came up, again?”

“What? ‘I’m an idiot?’”

Silence, relatively.

“Yeah.  Why’d you fish him out? I thought you said you weren’t going to listen, sir.”

More wind, waves, and creaks.  This silence held more.

“Just not him.” Captain sighed. “Trust me, Ishmael, idiot deserved the sharks.  But so do I.  Realized it after I hit him in the head.  We deserve worse than we get, and get better than we deserve.”

“Sir?”

“I was just as stupid to ask you for suggestions.  Stupider.  Knew it would get out of hand, and ignored it. Figured I was entitled to a laugh”

“Think he’ll wake up?”

“Oh, eventually.  Eventually.”  Captain watched the sun set. “Eventually, we all do.  It’s just got to be before it’s too late.”