Quick Round at Emerald Isle on 10/17

So this was an impromptu golf round. I booked the tee time an hour before play and showed up with about 20 minutes to warm up. I putted a bit, chipped a bit, and made some swings at tees on the first tee.

Then the rest of the tee time showed up. They were three, friendly, White guys. A father and son and the son’s friend. I was just about to tee off from the blue tees when they arrived.

I should have just played.

Goals for the round were:

  • pray before the round (did this!)
  • Smooth swing; don’t over swing
  • Make a birdie
  • No triple bogies
  • Have fun

An unofficial goal was “no three putts” but I didn’t articulate it. The other goal was that this was an impromptu tune up before I played on 10/22.

First hole, I didn’t play well. I hit a top hook to the tee box of 18, which runs parallel to the hole. Then I hit my sand wedge into the net that protects the tee box from hole 1. Then I hit a 6 iron chip under some trees which ran WAY too long. I thought about 8 iron and went with six to that I’d have more roll.

I should have done 8. 

Fourth shot was from a little hillock down onto the green, which I putted to 3 yards out. I missed the 3 yarder to 6 inches and tapped in for a … triple.

Goal 1, in the books.

Second hole, I hit a better tee shot, actually the best of our group. Into the fairway, about 110 yards, which is bad for an 8 iron but pretty good for a chunk.

That left me 70 yards to the pin so I hit a full LW, and that was a good shot! I had 10 yards or so left to putt … and i left it 3 yards short. I then got the 3 yard putt to be short of the hole, but I at least tapped it in for bogey.

Goal 2: Don’t three putt, in the books.

Hole 3, i chunked my 7 iron into the water. Then I played my PW from where the ball had entered the water and hit it perfectly, 97 yards to the green. That left me a 5 yard uphill putt that I missed to 1.75 yards short. I then missed the 1.75 yard putt long and made it for a 6. Another triple! And this time with a 3-putt! Double goal.

At least this one I had a hazard to excuse my poor score.

I also abandoned my playing partners at this point. It had been 40 minutes and we were … on hole 3. With no one in front of us. When I left them, they were looking for balls in the water of hole 3.

I couldn’t handle it.

Hole 4, I hit an excellent pitching wedge about 100 yards, to the green. I think it was 10 yards short (so a 9 iron would have been the perfect choice) but I was on the green, an easy two putt for par.

I missed the 10y putt right to 1.5 yards high – and promptly missed the 1.5 yard putt. So tapped it in for a bogey.

Still, another bogey is okay.

Hole 5 I chunked my 8 iron into the cart path, where it ran down the cart path to well long of the hole. The lie I had was … okay. The cart path is made of dirt and relief from the cart path would put me in line for a bunker or in line for a tree.

So I hit a pretty good pitching wedge from the cart path that I hit a little too hard. It ran over the green and under a tree just inside of OB.

I had a lot of green to work with and my lob wedge was working on the practice green so I bladed my lob wedge over the green, right back to the spot i was in previously.

That was stupid. I should have putted: it wasn’t like I needed to go over anything. But a good sand wedge got me back to the green, leaving me 5 yards out and putting. I missed the 5 yarder long and right, leaving me a yard left. Another triple bogey.

Hole 6 is a hole that I have historically done well on. It’s my best on the front nine, with an average score of a bogey.

This time, I hit a 9 iron right at the spot I was aiming for, a tree left of the green to keep the ball from going OB. Hit my spot exactly, leaving a 4y putt for birdie.

I marked it, looked at the putt. It was straight. Annoyed as I was having left my putter cover somewhere on the course, I lined it up and made the 12 footer for birdie.

Unironic goal achieved!

Hole 7 is a somehow challenging very short par 4. I hit my 8 iron off the tee and it was a big, sweeping slice that stayed inbounds because I missed well.

I contemplated chipping with my 8 iron from the spot in the rough but I didn’t for a reason I don’t understand. Well, I was concerned about the ball going off the back of the green, but my PW chip died on the fringe, so … I was not at risk at going off the back of the green.

Another PW chip left me 4 yards short of the green (another instance where the 8 iron would have been a better choice). So I promptly putted the 4 yarder to within 1 yard, missed the 1 yard putt, and then made it for  a double bogey.


8 is an uphill par 3 with nothing behind it and to the right and a huge bunker short left. So the only misses are long left and short right — but short right is OB.

I hit a good PW that didn’t have enough backspin to get out of the rough above the hole. I missed the downhill chip from the rough to 7y long, but honestly it’s such a challenging putt that I was happy that it stayed on the green.

I then lagged it up to 2 feet and made the putt for a bogey. Happy with that.

9 is also uphill, over a water hazard. So, knowing how this round is going so far, I chunked my 8 iron into the hazard. Then I reteed and hit it onto the green. Putted to within a foot and made for a double bogey.

So that was a pretty atrocious front 9: I shot a 44, which is my worst in … two rounds? Well, I also had 21 putts so that was nice.

What were the good parts of the front 9: well, the birdie was exceptional. And I hit both my 9 iron and pitching wedge pretty well…

Anyway, onto the back 9.

Hole 10 was set pretty far back so I hit my 8 iron. It was a good choice although I faded it right of the green. That left me 35 yards right of the pin. I hit my SW short of the destination, leaving 15 yards to the pin. I chose to chip again instead of putting since I was on the fringe and that was dumb. I missed my chip short, missed the putt close, missed the other putt, and then finally made it for a 6. Blegh.

Hole 11 I chunked my SW again, after the players in front of me let me play through. One of the old guys was strangely aggressive about it. That was weird.

So I chunked it into the water hazard, so I reteed and hit it onto the green.Then I rushed my putts, but managed to make a double bogey. That’s par number 2 if I could have just hit it onto the green to begin with.

Hole 12 I hit a pitching wedge since short was better than long. Then the guys behind me, who had let me play through, hit up on me, bizarrely, so I rushed my putts and 3-putted after putt chipping onto the green. Double.

Hole 13 has been a bug-bear for me in the past. This time, I hit a great SW to the green and then made a terrible uphill putt, leaving 3 yards remaining. I missed the 3 yard putt, missed the 1 yard remaining putt, and then finally finished the 4 putt for another double.

Hole 14 i hit a 7 iron which faded OB. Then I reteed and hit another fade, but aimed further left, so the ball landed pin high over the green. A wonderful 9 iron chip left me 1 yard from the green — which I promptly missed. Another 6.

At this point, I stopped taking notes. I was frustrated and backed up again, behind a family two-some. But I was frustrated so I might as well stop keeping such careful track.

I hit an okay 8 iron short of the hole hole 15. It left a long chip that i left very short, since I hit to the opposite side of the green. After leaving the SW chip short, I putted onto the green, again short. I then putted short, putted close,and finally put it in for another 3-putt.

Hole 16 I hit my 9 iron long of the green but I was able to get on with a good putt chip, especially since it was downhill. Then the putting woes returned: I putted it short, missed it again, and then made a 5. Great.

Hole 17 i finally had a good shot. I hit the green with a shot, but the backspin on the ball took it off the green. Surprise suprise, I had an okay chip on then missed a few times for another 3-putt 5.

Hole 18, I was a bit irresponsible. I didn’t call fore, and hit on the left side of the green with a pitching wedge. The ball rolled onto the green and I made a wonderful second putt that finished 4 inches from the hole. Then I missed the 4 inch putt for par and made a bogey.

So in this godforsaken round, I made 1 birdie, 1 bogey, and then everything else was a 5 or a 6. Which is what I had hoped to do on Friday, 10/22, and promptly didn’t do.

My putting was the biggest thing that held me back. It was atrocious. I missed 10 of 27 putts from within 2 yards which was atrocious. Taking those 10 putts out, I would have had just 37 putts, which would have been bad, but that also would have been the difference between an 81 and a 91.

My tee shots were not good but I tended to recover well. Really, my putting was atrocious.

I went back and practiced my putting later in the week and was able to make the same putts in 35 putts, including removing the 4-putt. So that was a good feeling. It was a putting anomaly.

Best shots

  1. Lob Wedge on Hole 2
  2. Pitching Wedge on Hole 3
  3. Pitching wedge on hole 4
  4. Tee shot on 6
  5. Birdie putt on 6
  6. SW retee on Hole 11
  7. SW on hole 13
  8. 9 iron chip on 14
  9. Tee shot on 18
  10. Lag putt on 18

That’s … not a lot of good shots. Which is appropriate because it was not a good round.

Lesson 3 with Don Byrd

Had a lesson today (written 9/23) at the golf club of california with Don Byrd. It was my first lesson in about 3 months: vacation and the first month of school really got in the way. Oh, and the fact that our house was a construction zone for some time.

So it’s now three months later. Since I met with Don the last time, I’ve played 66 holes and have continued to improve. I made every putt from under 6 feet at St. Mark’s in July, played two family scrambles, and scored my best-ever championship score on the Vineyards course. At the Loma Club, I had a birdie for the first time in nearly two years and had 34 putts, which was especially good because I didn’t play particularly well that day.

So we talked a little bit about how to score on the way up to the course. I told Don, “I’d really like to learn how to hit my longer clubs.”

He asked me why. I told him I wanted to be closer to the hole with my second and third shots.

He told me, very kindly, that I was wrong. My handicap is so high that I should give myself two strokes on every hole.

Here is a summary of what he said.

“Look at the scorecard. Even the longest hole is only 500 yards. If you can get your 7 iron 150 yards each time, you are on the green in 4 strokes and you can two-putt for a bogey.”

I’m paying him for lessons. I will endeavor to listen to him. He did let me know that my instincts were correct: it’ll help to have a longer club off the tee. Driver or 3 wood were what he recommended.

I told him my relationship with my 3 wood was poor. He told me that was fine. 

We worked on the range, I think because the course was pretty crowded.

I hit 5 pitching wedge shots at 85 yards. He saw me taking a small backswing and trying a shorter swing and asked me what I would normally hit in this situation. I told him sand wedge, so we switched to sand wedge. 10 sand wedge shots, 5 9 iron, 5 8 iron, 5 7 iron, and 5 driver shots. Then I hit 10 shots with my 3 wood after he saw what my driver was doing.

I struggled. There is no other way to say it. I didn’t make very good contact and didn’t feel very confident.

Don worked with my contact, having me do a drill aligned to a folding chair. My goal was to strike the back of the chair with the heel of my club, sweeping my right elbow across my chest.

I was, predictably, a mess with this as I tried to do a very intentional action. It was like thinking about walking without walking.

I seemed to have figured out the chair drill pretty well, but extending my right arm by uncocking my wrist after the swing was a challenge. Again, it is like trying to think about throwing while you are throwing. It is very hard.

Don also gave me some course management advice: take everything that wasn’t a 7 iron down and my 3 wood out of my bag. Goodbye, 6 iron, at least for now.

I should be getting down to a bogey on par 3s (happily, I can share that my average on par 3s since I started taking lessons is a fine 3.91 strokes per hole).  I should treat par as two strokes higher on par 4s and par 5s.

I felt very happy because my chipping and putting appear to be pretty good. I’m down to about 1.7 putts per hole since my first lesson, from averaging 2.2 a hole previously.

So now it is just: keep putting, keep chipping, and work on the chair drill with my 3 wood and all the other clubs in my bag and then work on the extension.

I’ll let you know when I play again! And it’ll be 7 iron on down!

Day later update:

So the elbow across the chest thing is beginning to click. The extension will take time. I also know that I should be encouraged by a push shot, since that means that I literally just missed the optimal contact point.

What did I learn:

3 wood was blocked out a lot, with a big swooping fade. I did have two really nice shots: one with a draw and another where I flushed it. But I only topped one and that was because I didn’t extend.

So I’ll aim left side of my target pretty considerably to account for the most likely miss.

Loma Club on Labor Day (9/6/21)

The Loma Club is a very short course, in San Diego’s Liberty Station.

I, once again, forgot to set any goals before the round. I was going with my brother in law and my wife’s childhood friend’s husband (not the same person) to a very very short par 3 course. This makes it sound more abrupt than it was but, while I knew we had a tee time, I knew nothing else for how the day was going to go. Were my daughters and wife going to join us on the course? Were my sister-in-law and her (and my wife’s) childhood friend and childhood friend’s children?

Hence, the lack of goals.

What goals would I need besides “have fun” and don’t embarrass myself? Also, and I don’t know if you know this, but the last time I played I nearly broke 100 on a championship course so do I really need any help?

Anyway I should have set some goals. In retrospect, my goal was to bogey every hole. So there’s that.

But I was with my friends, playing on Labor Day, while my daughters and wife cavorted with friends (sister-in-law, their mutual childhood friend, my children, childhood friend’s children) at Liberty Station.

Hole 1 

Hole 1 is a short, uphill par 3. It is about 90 yards on its longest days with a bunker left.

I hit a sand wedge since according to my calculations, I tend to average a full sand wedge going about 80 yards.

(Details on this forthcoming)

Well, except if I hit it really good and flush. The pin was 86 yards and I hit a beautiful sand wedge to 108 yards. Maybe 100 yards carry and 8 yards of run. Way over the green and into the sand/dirt/mulch mixture behind the green.

I had about 32 yards to the green and it was a downhill shot. So I hit my lob wedge to … somewhere (I forget where I was aiming) but it didn’t stop rolling. Ball rolled to the fringe, about 10 yards long.

I missed the chip putt long (the practice green was a moonscape and I can see that affecting my judgment) and then I drained a 2.5 y downhill putt for bogey. But I felt pretty good. A wonderful tee shot that was somehow bad then a tough pitch from a bad lie, then a decent if poorly judged putt. And then I made it.

Hole 2

Hole 2 is a longer par 3 that is more uphill than hole 1. Okay, it’s about 100 yards (98 today) and the front and back are guarded by bunkers. Looking at the scorecard, the miss is right, since it’s a false front green. So you don’t want to miss short right. You just want to miss pin high right. Long and right is okay since that’s not where the bunker is.

I hit my pitching wedge because I wasn’t going to let one superpowered wedge shot throw me off my game. Pitching wedge goes between 100 and 110 yards and it was uphill.

The pitching wedge didn’t stop on the green and rolled out to the fringe. The ball was in the rough, but it was a downhill putt that I could try to make. I was 15 yards from the hole and putted to about 3 yards. I missed the 3 yards putt to about a yard long, which I then made for bogey.

Honestly, a SW was probably the right play there. Considering the distance on hole 1, I am surprised I didn’t make that connection at the time.

Hole 3

Hole 3 is the first “I’m playing a par 3 course” hole. It’s 70 yards from the back of the tee mat (no tee box here) to the very very back of the green. There’s a bunker right and a street very very far right.

Left is the course’s water tower. But there’s a pretty generous allowance.

I hit a very easy sand wedge that ended up just short of the front of the green. That it was 13 yards short. I guess I was adjusting?

I sand wedge chipped it on to 4 yards long, leaving me a downhill 4 yard putt that I nearly holed for a par save. As it was, the ball stopped 3 inches from the hole for an easy bogey.

Hole 4

This is a real par 3. 150 yards and uphill. Right is the road and a stand of trees protecting it. There’s also the remnants of a stand of trees up by the green.

And by remnants, I mean a 300 square foot patch of leftover pine needles, branches, and tree trunks.

Left are three bunkers: in front, to the left, and behind the green. It’s also a really large green. Everything says, “hit the ball left. The bunkers will save you from going downhill.”

I do not think about such things except in retrospect.

Naturally, with all these signs, I blocked out a beautiful 7 iron that would have been pin high if it didn’t, you know, go right.

Since I wasn’t sure I could find my ball, I hit a provisional 8 iron off the tee which got to the green on the left side of the green.

But sure enough, I found my ball, and I was on a tee of dirt, by a log, in the remnants of the trees that used to guard the right side of the hole. I later learned that this was ground under repair and so could have dropped freely at the nearest point of relief.

Instead, I hit my ball from the dirt. That 41 yard SW shot was pretty good okay: it got to about 26 yards and then died, leaving me 15 yards from the hole but on the fringe, at least.

It’s the on the fringe part that makes me say things like “it was okay.” I honestly don’t think I had a chance to aim it at the hole, from what I remember.

So I putted it 15 yards and missed 3 yards long. And then the 3 yard par putt missed 1 inch short, tauntingly. That’s a double-bogey. Good that I found my ball, I guess?

Hole 5

Hole 5 is a very short, very downhill par 3 that has a teeing mat. I had planned to hit LW or SW but unsolicited advice from my friends who are members said that that’s a great way to hit the tree that overhangs the tee box. So instead of using the shot that didn’t work on hole 3 but would have been very good here (since this hole is 60 yards), I hit my pitching wedge.

It was a pin high shot but a terrible bounce short of the green sent me careening off to the left, off the green.

For some reason, I thought a flop shot was a good choice here instead of a putt or a chip shot. I hit a flop shot with my lob wedge that I managed to get to 21 yards. Why? I don’t know. I guess I really didn’t want to give myself a chance to score? I guess the missing detail was that I was 30 yards from the pin.

Yeah I don’t know why I decided to hit a flop shot. At least it was a good flop shot, if in the wrong circumstances.

I missed the 9 yard uphill putt to 1 yard and made that putt. Bogey.

Hole 6

Hole 6 is parallel to hole 5, and as uphill as hole 5 is downhill. Today, it was about 55 yards.

So out came the sand wedge and out came a perfect replica of the shot on hole 3. This time, I was on the green with under 5 yards to the pin.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s birdie time!

Unfortunately, it was not birdie time. I putted it to about 1.5 yards long, all the way through the break. And that meant I had a 1.5 yard putt back that I missed. I did put the bogey putt away for my first 3-putt in … well, since Saturday when I played a scramble date with my wife. Yes, she is very kind to me.

But in official round terms, that was my first 3 putt in nearly 3 rounds! I would like to never three putt but they’re becoming much less frequent (1st in 23 holes, since my 3-putt on 7/15).

Hole 7

Hole 7 is another legitimate par 3. Nearly 200 yards, it benefits from being downhill and narrow left. So it is wide open for me, is what I’m saying.

I spotted a nice tee in the ground that someone left with a good lie behind it. So I teed up behind that tee and hit a sweet 6 iron to about 170 yards. The pin was very in the front and I was resting on the fringe of the green.


This time, I learned my lesson from hole 6: let’s lag it close and then make it for par. After all, it’s 10 yards from the pin! The green is covered in leaves!

Yeah, I made it. It was my first birdie in 26 golf outings (okay, I made a solo birdie in a scramble on Saturday at that great golf outing with my wife BUT STILL). My first birdie since February 2020, when Coronavirus was just this crazy thing in China.

Felt good to birdie.

Hole 8

Uphill par 3, about 150 yards, coming back against hole 7 and hole 9. It is wide wide open. There are some bunkers left and right of the fairway, but nothing long of the pin.

I hit a 6 iron and my brother-in-law said, “Wow! How’d you hit that so far with no follow through?”

I apparently hit a soft 6 iron about 130 yards. That left me 20 yards to the hole and, though it was uphill, I was flush with my success on hole 7. So I putted it uphill but it died at about 8 yards short, on the green. An unfortunate result.

8 yard putt got me 1.5 yards from the hole, which I made for a bogey.

Hole 9

On this hole, the kids ran out to meet us. So we had a gallery for this hole.

I always play better with my kids as an audience. On this one, 150 yards slightly downhill, I hit an 8 iron. I hit the 8 iron very good, almost to the green. It netted out to 141 yards, leaving me 13.2 yards to the pin from the fringe. I putted it and and left myself 1 yard to the hole.

Naturally, i missed that putt. No pars for me.

At the time, I felt pretty good about this one. My goal was to bogey every hole, and I shot 1 under that. If I had made the 1 yard putts I missed, I would have had a 33.

I also made a birdie!

For my tee shots, I made good contact on all of them. Unfortunately, only 1 found the green (although I’d say that the tee shots on 2, 7, and 9 were objectively good, as was my provisional on 4.). So about 5 of 11 really good shots off the tee/full swings; fortunately, no bad contact.

My putting was also okay: 16 putts on 9 holes, with hole outs of 2.5 and 10 yards. Making the under 2 yard putts would have saved me 2 strokes.

So my pain still came off the tee. I’m hitting it more consistently now, but I wasn’t hitting the green. When you don’t hit the green, it’s hard to make par. 

I also warmed up no chip shots at all, which I should probably do next time.

Let’s say I chipped and pitched better. How do I save the strokes? Hole 1: nope. A bad lie means even a good stroke can be bad. Hole 2: nope. Hole 3: maybe? Hole 4: not really. Hitting the ball not off line would help.. Hole 5: probably. Hole 8: maybe. Hole 9: nope.

So i maybe could have saved a stroke on 3, 5, and 8. So that’s a 30.

This reinforces that 1: golf is hard and 2: tee shot consistency is still a bug bear.

But some better short game play wouldn’t hurt. Especially under 100 yards. Because the over 100 yard holes I had:

15 (+3) on 4 holes, but it could have been a +1 pretty easy (don’t miss a 1 yarder on hole 9, hit a better tee shot on hole 4, chip better on hole 8). The short holes should be easy pars. Let’s work to make them work that way.

Then we ate lunch. And right when I was wondering what we were going to do with the afternoon, we got roped into another 9. Okay, well, my companions asked and my wife said “sure!”. But I had a caddie this time around: my oldest daughter came with me.

So back to it!

Hole 1

Since I blasted my SW long last time, I decided I would try to not do that again. Instead, I hit my LW. The shot went 75 yards and ended up just off the front of the green. A 10 yard putt up left me a yard to go … which I promptly missed. I made it the second time. Still no par for me.

However, my daughter pulled the pin and marked my ball (after kicking it down the hill on accident).

Hole 2

I tried to hit an easy pitching wedge and chunked it, ending up below the green about 78 yards out. Then i shank hooked (is that a thing?) my pitching wedge 20 yards left into the bunker that guards the green.

Then I blasted it out of the sand and got it on the green. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn my lesson from the previous shot and my 10 yard bogey putt was left 3 yards short. Then I missed the 3 yarder before making the triple bogey 1 yarder. Hooray.

There was a reason for this, however. After punting the ball into the trap, I received a text asking if my daughter wanted to go mini golfing. I asked her if she did and she said yes, and then, boom, we were off to the races back to the clubhouse to play mini golf. So there goes my caddie.

Hole 3

I decided to hit the SW a little bit harder this time and promptly shanked it right at the street into the pine needles.

I found my ball pretty easily (I could see it) and grabbed what I thought was my pitching wedge to chip it out. After all, the ball would easily roll out to the green.

Unfortunately, I had grabbed my lob wedge. I made decent contact considering the ball’s lie (behind some pine cones in some pine needles), and punted the ball and a few pine cones 10 yards, when I thought it would go 20 with a pitching wedge. Well, I went and hit the lob wedge again, another 10 yards, to get the ball on to the front right fringe of the green.

At least that was a consistent swing although I don’t remember at all what I thought I was doing there.

That left me 8 yards uphill for a bogey. But I thought: let’s get it close for a double. And I did: I got it very close. I got it in the hole, in fact. Bogey!

I was very happy despite my poor play so far. 24 foot putt should do that for anyone!

Hole 4

Since I had had success with my 8 iron on the previous time on this hole (you know, my provisional), I decided that the optimal play would be to hit 8 iron again. So I did. 

I absolutely blasted my 8 iron, but didn’t account for a fade and aimed at the right side of the green. So I ended up with the ball in a much worse place: instead of on a dirt clod adjacent to the scrub it was actually in the scrub.

Unfortunately, I didn’t read the rules. My lost ball here was in ground under repair, which would have entitled me to a free drop. But instead, I hit a provisional ball onto the green. This time, I aimed for the left side of the green and hit the ball straight.

After 3 minutes searching and not finding my ball (which, go figure, I hadn’t tracked it in the air to the ground), I went back to my ball on the green. Well, you know, my second ball.

So I ended up having 18 yards uphill for a putt. This to me says “Why didn’t you hit 7 iron?” but enough about that, inner voice. I made a pin high, uphill, 18y yard putt that I completely misread. The ball was 4 yards off line, leaving a 4 yard putt for a double. Which I also made.

So that was real nice. Double bogey and bogey — but on two putts I’d love to make again. Maybe next time for birdie and par.

Hole 5

This time I hit my lob wedge. It went a full 75 yards, well beyond the green.

I should mention here that I started doing something different with my swing. I slowed down my back swing considerably on 1 and 4+. It’s something that Jimmy does to ensure he accelerates through the ball.

And that’s what happened here. My lob wedge was perfectly struck and went way too far.

That left me on the moonscape behind the hole, which has become a moonscape due to all the players blasting it out of the bunker behind the hole.

It was a downhill lie and about 22 yards from the hole. I should have putted. Instead, I tried my SW and duffed the pitch shot about 6 yards. For my next poor choice, I made a flop shot that got to the green, but left me 7 yards long. I couldn’t keep up my streak of long putts and just rolled the 7 yarder to about 6 inches long. Tap in for double.

Looking at distances, I hit the shot I had wanted to hit on stroke 2. Except it was stroke 3. It went 23 yards. Oh well. Next time, I will try to putt it.

Hole 6

I continued my slow backswing and, though I took a bit off, I hit my sand wedge 20 yards further than the last time i played this hole. So it was into the sand trap.

It was a decent lie but I couldn’t putt it out because of the lip on the hole– or at least I hadn’t practiced. Fortunately, I made an excellent sand shot out and it ended 4 yards high of the hole.

I missed the putt 6 inches to the left of the hole but perfectly pin high. Easy tap in for bogey.

Hole 7

This time, I hit 6 iron with a bit more of a fade, quite a bit shorter. The ball landed directly in the bunker 30 yards from the hole, which means I hit it about 150 yards. Which is pretty normal for a not pure 6 iron.

Unfortunately, I was in the bunker. Also unfortunately: I had a great lie. I didn’t realize this at the time, but I hit a pure SW 60 yards, when the pin was 30 yards away. The ball went over the green and into some crappy fairway behind the tee. Then I hit my lob wedge 60 yards back over the pin to the fringe.

I had 18 yards for bogey and I got it within 1 yard. Felt pretty good about that and I finished it for a double.

The errors here were two fold: I didn’t hit it long enough off the tee (I mean, how could I?) and then I blasted it from the sand. That was unfortunate.

What was doubly unfortunate was the shot coming back: why did I hit a lob wedge in that circumstance? I have never practiced that? It should have been an easy sand wedge.

Hole 8

I hit an 8 iron on this hole and ended up going about 125, which was 5 yards short of an easy 6 iron. So I had 21 yards to the flag stick which would be a 7 iron tee shot, I do believe. Oh well.

I was 21 yards short of the pin and decided that a low-risk PW chip was the right choice. Which it was but unfortunately, I decided I needed to finesse the shot instead of hitting the center of the green.

So I finessed the shot all right, to the fringe, where it barely hopped onto the green and died. That left me a 9 yard putt which I put 1 yard close. Then I missed the 1 yarder and finally made it. That’s another double bogey! Argh!

Hole 9

I learned from my mistake on the previous hole, which was that I was short with an 8 iron. So I hit 7 iron off the tee with a pin high stroke that I aimed left and hit perfectly straight, maybe with a small draw. That meant I was in the bunker.

I then topped my bunker shot 60 yards out of the bunker that I could have easily putted out of. It rolled through a bunker and onto the artificial grass of the deck.

The marshall frantically told me not to hit from the deck so I dropped for free behind a bunker. It was 42 yards to the pin and I ended up 7 yards from my target, but on the green. Missed the 7 yarder close and tapped it in for a double bogey.

So this round I was significantly worse: 8 strokes worse, to be exact. No pars, no birdies, just 3 bogies for a 43. Bleg.

I really had a case of the golfs and also a case of the poor judgments. I didn’t really stop and think about the likely miss on most holes. So let’s see.

Hole 1 was a case of the golfs: good play to be in a position for an easy par and choked.

Hole 2 was a case of the bad lucks: chunk on the tee shot, then bad into the trap, then okay from the sand, then hurried because I had to run my daughter back to the club house.

Hole 3 was a shank and then a mistake compounded by another mistake (misidentifying my club 2x).

Hole 4 was a failure to miss properly.

Hole 5 was a duff followed by not responding to the duff.

Hole 6 was pretty good, honestly. Obviously, I wish I had hit the green instead of the trap and that I had saved it closer from the trap.

Hole 7 was a sand trap special and then a bad decision after that. Nearly made up for by good putting.

Hole 8 was a dorkus play: I played the length I could hit, not the length I would likely hit.

Hole 9 was a very high risk sand play and then okay after that (I swung way too hard for the distance it needed to go)

Making the 1 yarders would have cut my score by 2. A better choice on hole 3 (after I realized it was a LW), on hole 5 (maybe putting or switching clubs), hole 7, hole 9 could have saved 4. So that puts me at … 37.

Well that’s reassuring… actually it is. If I had made the right plays in a few plays, say, save those 6 strokes and then the potential 30 on the front: that’s a 67 through 18 holes which would be my best score by 1 stroke. I’d be very happy with that score, honestly. I wouldn’t even have to play perfectly to do that.

My lessons:

  1. You can’t score if you can’t get it on the green. I did not hit the green with my tee shots. I really only had a few chances at par. First round: Hole 6, Hole 7 (cha-ching!), Hole 9; second round: Hole 1, Hole 9.
  2. Make the 1 yarders or less. I did make putts of 2.5y, 10.3y, 8y and 4y. I also had shots that got me close enough to score: 10.5y, 4y, 9, 8y, 13y, 10, 18, 7, 4, 18, 9, 7: that’s 12 of 18 holes where i lagged it close enough to make a 2 putt nice and easy.
  3. Pitching pitching pitching pitching pitching. I didn’t feel confident pitching or chipping and that made things tough. Need to work on those almost exclusively now, I think.

But I did have some good strokes.

  1. GIR on 6 giving a chance for birdie
  2. Tee shot on 7
  3. 10 yard putt on 7 for BIRDIE
  4. 13 yard fringe putt on 9
  5. 10 yard Putt on hole 1 to leave a 1 yard par save.
  6. 8 yard Putt on hole 3 for bogey.
  7. 4 yard putt on hole 4 for a double bogey.
  8. Putt on hole 7 to make a triple bogey into a double bogey.
  9. Two putt on hole 9 after some challenging short game.

But that is not a lot. I didn’t play very well — can you tell? But it was still fun. And a 78 through 18 holes on a new par 3 course is pretty good, honestly.

The Vineyard in August

I had the opportunity to play The Vineyard golf course with two friends on August 6 because Qualcomm gave everyone at the company a day off. Woot!

One playing companion is a friend who is a driving force behind the blog (because he was really interested in my exhaustive course notes). He requested his alias to be “Tyrone.” The other friend asked that his alias be “Giorgio Armani.”

I got off to a late start, but was able to warm up at the driving range by hitting the ball poorly. I putted and chipped a little bit. So I felt fairly warm. I had had a cold earlier in the week, but I am vaccinated, had tested Covid-negative, and felt pretty good.

The Vineyard is in Escondido, which is the equidistant, inexpensive, somewhat-championship golf course for both me and Tyrone. Giorgio was added later so he was not considered in the goal of golf course evaluation equality.

The Vineyard is in Escondido so it is hot. And, because it’s inexpensive, it is very, very crowded.

Reviewing my notes, my goals for the round were:


Nothing? What?! That’s not the goal-oriented golf hobbyist I know, and I’m me! I didn’t even have a goal of having fun. How am I supposed to have fun?

I suppose being under the weather influenced my goal setting. I should have something like: try for a birdie. Make par on a par 5. But alas. No goals. Instead my document has aphorisms like:

Commit to the shot! Don’t move your head! Don’t overswing!

These are all old aphorisms, even! My new ones are things like:

Check your grip and alignment before each shot. Don’t think over the ball. Just swing.

I have played this course before. The first time, I shot a wonderful 125, hitting every single club in my bag. The next time, I limited myself to only irons and shot 111. This time, I was planning on relying on my 8 iron, allowing a few driver shots or 6 irons off the tee as risks permitted. My warm up with my driver made me a bit wary of using it in general.

Anyway, the rest of the preamble:

Giorgio, Tyrone, and I got to the starting area and planned to join up with Henry, who was a friendly fellow who decided to play from the blue tees. He was a single player, after all. But then the intercom told us that there was a two-some and another single that he’d been joined up with.

This was bizarre because the fairway seemed clear. But, okay, we will listen to the starter intercom.

So we watched as the clear fairway remained clear — and then we teed off, joining up with Henry in defiance of the powers that be. And also because the rest of his playing partners weren’t present.

Hole 1 – Par 4 but treat it as a Par 6

Hole 1 at Vineyards is a straightaway par 4 about 400 yards from the tips. But we were playing the white tees (except for Henry who wanted to challenge himself). It has bunkers around the fairway at the driver landing zone and also bunkers that protect the back and front right of the green.

See the bunkers?

Hole 1 with 1 bunker visible.
Hole 1 with 1 bunker visible.

The previous times I’ve played this course, I have done horribly on this hole. My goal is to get a 6 and I’ve not done that before.

Based on how my warmup went I had 2 options: 8 irons all day every day or driver then 8 iron. Since my warm up was abbreviated and poor, I went with the 8 iron off the tee. My 8 iron off the tee was also based on my previous outing where I was hitting 150+ yard 8 irons (You can read about that outing here: St. Mark’s Course on 7/15).

Anyway, my 8 iron was very nice off the tee, into the fairway but I think to about 130 yards. My second shot was equally as nice although I can see that I haven’t been practicing hitting balls off the fairway. I hit the ball well and thought I had chunked it.

Everything was going according to plan, surprisingly. I had 80-something yards from the pin, which I *though* was my sand wedge distance.

Unfortunately, I really decided that I need to swing hard. Really hard.

I thinned my sand wedge which went the distance I wanted it to go, about 87 yards. The problem was that it wasn’t high, it was long and spinny. The ball skipped off the green and into the bunker behind the green and then to the fringe of the bunker.

This is a bad spot. I had to carry the ball 22 yards to get it over the bunker and I promptly chose my Lob Wedge, which I lobbed into the bunker. 1 yard longer (easy enough using my SW or a PW) and I would have been on the green. Instead, I plopped into the bunker but rolled to a nice lie. Sand wedge time.

I hit out of the bunker in one shot to a nice knee-knocker putting distance of 2.5 yards. But I made that putt for a 6, which was a new record on this hole!

4 good shots, bracketing 2 bad shots.

The first bad shot was caused by overswinging. The second was really just from the lie — the ball was on the fringe of the bunker. I should have hit my pitching wedge or sand wedge there and should have just got the ball on the green. But the sand shot was really good.

Hole 2 – Par 4 but treat it as a Par 6

This is a dogleg par 4. There is a large lake left, which is what the dogleg bends around. There is also a small lake right off the tee and then water behind the fairway to collect shots that go too long.

There’s a pot bunker at the end of the fairway and a bunker to add insult to injury if you bail out left on your approach to the green. Oh, and the front of the green is protected by the lake that makes the dog leg.

This hole is a monster. It’s another one where I’d love to get a 6 — and I’ve never done that.

I hit 6 iron off the tee because my friends were hitting drivers. My 6 iron was nice and long and in the middle of the fairway. It was maybe 140 yards from the pin and that is a hard distance for me. So i decided to stick to plan and hit my 8 iron toward that pot bunker right of the green.

I had trouble getting a good practice swing where I hit the turf slightly before my swing. Next time, I’ll step off and just swing easier. This time, I shanked my 8 iron right at Henry (who was maybe 25 yards ahead) and down the hill that leads to the pond that collects shots that go too long.

So here, as I write this, I realize I made a grievous error but it’s pretty understandable. I thought I could find my ball that I shanked over the hill that leads to the pond. I should have given my ball up as lost (or rather, into the hazard) and just rehit from the spot. That’s what you can do, according to the rules.

I also should have expected this. I was playing a Pro V1 gifted to me by my in-laws. I should have known it would go into the water.

After fruitlessly searching for my ball, I dropped in a terrible position (behind a bunch of trees on the edge of the pond). I had thought this was a bad position to drop, but on re-reading the rules: them’s the breaks. The hazard was unmarked which means it is a regular water hazard, which means you can rehit or drop from the point where your ball entered the hazard.

Understanding where I was and that I was on my fourth shot, I hit a punch shot back to the fairway, some 50 yards or so away from the green. I was happy with this shot.

Unfortunately, I made a dumb choice with shot 5. Instead of hitting a 40 yard shot or a 50-yard shot, I hit the same exact shot that I hit on shot 4.

The reason that this was dumb was that I hit a tree with that shot. Just a branch, but enough to slow the ball down.

I also decided to pitch it with my pitching wedge. The reason that this is an error is I always seem to pitch it long with my pitching wedge. Also I have not practiced hitting these pitching wedge shots in a while. I have practiced hitting my sand wedge about 40 to 50 yards. And it works great.

I also didn’t measure the distance I needed the shot to go. So I didn’t even listen to my still current aphorism of “commit to the shot.”

So I blasted the ball 70 yards, over the green, into a chain link fence and finally to rest in a drainage ditch. Fortunately, I could easily find my ball. I needed to drop because the ball was not playable.

So now I had some random distance to go to the green (I didn’t measure) but I did use my sand wedge to chip it onto the green, to 1 yard out. I promptly made that putt for an 8. But honestly, an 8 is pretty typical with two penalty strokes.

So that is 1 stroke to a shank, which can happen. And then another for not really thinking about what I was expecting to happen. And then, of course, the two penalty strokes.

Two putts in two holes is pretty good though. And those chips!

Hole 3 – Par 3 but treat it as a par 4

Hole 3 is a very short par 3 which guards the front of the green with the pond that collected my Pro V1 on Hole 2.

There are bunkers to protect you from shots running long, because if they go long that is bad. There’s the cart path and there is a hazard behind the hole.

I could only see greenery, which is a great mindset to have. Since I could only see greenery, I hit the green with a perfect sand wedge. It made a huge ball mark and spun back like 3 yards, leaving me with an 8 yard uphill putt. 

I blasted this 8 yard uphill, 5 yards long of the hole. Why did I blast it so far? Well, because I had been putting earlier in the day on the wet, wet practice green and it seemed like the greens were kind of slow. But this one had been mowed recently.

Probably not that slow… 

I definitely groaned after hitting it past. I had hit a 8 yard uphill putt to 5 yards long. A 15 foot putt is not one I try to make regularly, and downhill?

But guess what!? I made it. 5 yards coming back, down the hill, dropping into the cup for a par. All better. Net birdie, too!

Hole 4 – Par 4, treat it as a par 5

This is another hole that I’ve struggled on (golf is a struggle) but I don’t really know why.

Well I do know why: it’s fairly long and bordered on the right side by a huge lateral hazard. Left is the fairway for hole 5 so missing left is the place to go, even if there are trees and sand traps in the way.

My best on this hole is a 7. I have also had an 11 on this hole because of that huge hazard. Oh and my inability to hit the ball consistently until I took a lesson with Don Byrd.

My plan was to hit 8 iron into the center of the fairway, then an 8 iron further up the fairway, then onto the green with a PW or SW to the elevated green.

Going for the green, you want to go short and left. Short and right is a deep bunker and long puts you downhill … toward a horrifying, deep bunker to an elevated green.

We were going really slow here. We watched the guy on the tee in front of us hit 3 different balls. Now that wouldn’t be a problem normally, but we pulled up before they teed off. So there was a nice, 10-minute wait at the tee box. Oh and then he also hit another ball from the red tees with his beginner playing partners? What was up with that.

We later saw that he had been backed up too but there’s still not much of an excuse.

I hit an excellent 8 iron off the tee, but I blocked it out right. Either I was aligned that way or that was my swing path because the ball went straight as a frozen rope — just pointed right at a huge tree in the hazard. Not again! I had visualized the left side! Left!

But instead of reteeing, I decided that since I knew where the ball went out, I would just drop in the rough and avail myself of the rules. It was a good hit, after all. (I checked online after and it went like 150 yards).

Instead, I found my ball in the hazard! And the lie was not too bad. Sure it was in dirt and covered by some sticks but I was not going to hit the green anyway with my second shot.

I hit a great punch shot out to the fairway, leaving me about 100 yards from the pin. I shot the back of the green, seeing that it was like 130 yards or so, which gave me confidence to use my pitching wedge. (I have a problem with the pitching wedge going very very long).

Smooth swing and would you know it? The ball was on the green. I even made a ball mark and had backspin and everything.

I wonder if I should have hit a 9 iron, since that would have probably put my right at the pin — but that is the wrong thought to have. I was on the green! I had a par putt even after hitting the ball into a hazard!

It was a 10 yard uphill putt but I put it 1.5 yards short and right. But then I made that four-footer easy-peasy for net-par/bogey.

Also, I have in my notes that I needed to eat something at this point in the round — which were fruit snacks!

Hole 5 – Par 4, treat as par 5

Coming back alongside Hole 4, Hole 5 has an elevated tee over a small lake to the right. The landing area is guarded left and right by bunkers but to the right, after the lake, is Hole 9’s fairway. To the left, of course, is hole 4’s fairway.

It’s wide open, is what I’m saying.

Afraid of the water and afraid of my driver because of the water, I decided to hit 8 iron off the tee.

It was a good tee shot, but it had a pretty long carry (for me at least): like 150 yards. But I did it: I flushed another 8 iron about 150 to the fairway. Hurray!

Somehow unenthused by accomplishing my goal, I really, really overswung at my ball. I had 200+ yards to go and felt deflated, somehow. (again! I accomplished my goal! What the heck?!)

The result of my overswing? A chunk. The ball at least moved forward to about 110 yards out. Not exactly what I was hoping for (my plan was 8 iron, 9 iron, pitch on) but still progress.

I then took the wrong learning from Hole 4. Hole 4’s lesson should have been: 100 to 110 with a pitching wedge is a great distance. Instead I decided to try to finesse a 9 iron to the green.

The result was I hit a very easy 9 iron that went about three-quarters as far as I wanted it to go.

I should have hit a pitching wedge.

I was about 26 yards from the pin and hit a good sand wedge. Why was it good? Because it was on the green, leaving me 5 yards out. I just missed the 5 yard putt and was in for a double bogey — a net bogey for me.

Hole 6 – Par 3, treat as Par 4

Hole 6 is a longer par 3 (the longest on the course, actually), slightly uphill. The biggest issue is that there is hazard in front and hazard right and hazard left. Long? There’s a bunker and then a road. But you’d have to be an idiot to hit it that long.

This was the hole with the longest wait. We were on the tee for I think 20 minutes? We arrived as we watched the people in front of us (who were beginners) look for their balls for several minutes and then dilly-dally around on the green.

We were all annoyed, as annoyed as only golfers can get. The thing that was more frustrating was that we could see hole 9 (a par 5) with a completely tee box, fairway, and green. No one on the hole. At all.

The ambassador rolled up and told us that he had asked the group ahead of the group ahead of the group ahead of us (our great grand-group?) to speed up because apparently they were a playing a team game? I don’t really know what the issue was.

But the wait allowed me to confirm several times that it was 130 yards or so to the hole. Since that was well within my 8 iron wheelhouse, I decided to hit 8 iron.

Dear reader, I crushed it again. And I also blocked it out a bit right. So I think some alignment practice might be a good idea.

I saw the ball bounce, maybe hit the cart path, and then I couldn’t see it come to rest.

I looked for it for a bit, couldn’t find it, and dropped from the red-staked hazard.  That left me about 20 yards to the pin. I hit my SW to about 3 yards. Then i missed the 3-yard-putt long and right, before putting it in for a double bogey.

Hole 7 – Par 4, treat as a par 5

Hole 7 is the shortest and easiest hole on the course. It’s a dogleg right, going around a large, red-staked hazard. To make it more challenging, the hazard (which it shares with Hole 6) was super over-grown. Or maybe I just haven’t seen it in the summer?

Anyway, the dogleg is pretty severe. At the end of the landing zone, there’s a pretty crazy bunker that dominates the hill side. At the slightly elevated green, there’s a huge and deep bunker just below the hole, bordering the hazard. Just in case hitting over the hazard isn’t hard enough.

I aimed up the left side of the fairway, aiming at the bunker at the end of the landing zone. But I was hitting 8 iron so I was not too worried.. And then i blocked the 8 iron again! Fortunately, the fairway opened up behind the intimidating trees around which my ball disappeared, so I found my ball easily, sitting pretty in the fairway. I could even cut the corner!

It was also 110 yards from the hole. So I hit my 110 yard club (or so I thought). I hit my 9 iron.

This didn’t go too well. I chunked the shot because I overswung, right into the lateral hazard. Fortunately, the wetlands is very dry. So I would have been able to hit it if I could just find the dang ball.

I had hope that the ball sitting in the massive bunker in front of the green was mine through some fluke….

No. It was not. It was Tyrone’s TEE SHOT. He had hit driver, complained about his shot shape (“I hit it too high! And too far right!”) before we informed him that he may have driven the green. That made him very cheerful.

Instead, I couldn’t not find my ball. I took advantage of my other playing partner’s looking for and hitting their balls to not find mine. Finally, Tyrone walked over, said, “It’s right here!” and pointed out my ball.

It was in a tree well and in a tree well filled with grass that had never been cut. How he saw it, I don’t know. 

Okay, he said he saw my ball hit the tree — but it was still well spotted.

So I grabbed my lob wedge, didn’t check how far I needed the ball to go, and swung out of my shoes. I must have hit the top of the ball but a top wasn’t too bad.

The ball rolled out of the tree well, through the bunker, up the hill and onto the fringe of the green, surpassing my wildest expectations. I expected it to take me maybe two swings to get out.

Anyway, from the fringe, I made one of the best plays I’ve made in some time. I putted the ball 15 yards and had it die just 6 inches from the hole. I’ll take that bogey, thank you very much! Oh wait: that’s a net par!

Hole 8 – Par 4, treat as a par 6

Another treacherous hole. It borders the opposite side of Hole 6 and Hole 7’s hazard on the right side of the hole. The left side of the hole is Hole 9’s fairway, so left is a good miss. I rarely miss left so this hole is one where I’ve suffered. Every time I have hit it into the hazard.

Other than that, it’s quite straightaway.

I stuck to my plan and learned from my pain previously. Well, kind of. I hit an 8 iron off the tee, nice and good and to the left side of the fairway. Then I chunked my 8 iron because my second shot had so far to go. 

I did not remember I was playing a par 6.

Was it a chunk though? I ask because after my second shot, I ended up in the fairway, 80 yards from the pin. 

I don’t think I chunked it. I think I’m just so unaccustomed to hitting the ball from the fairway that every divot is scary. Maybe a little chunky but if I look at my plan, I was hoping for a SW on.

Naturally, I did overswing my sand wedge and hit a thin shot that ran long of the green, reminiscent of hole 1. What’s even more annoying is that the pin was in the front. Why was I swinging so hard?

This time, I think I learned from my mistake on Hole 1. Well, maybe. I hit a 25y downhill pitching wedge bump and run that was about 10 yards short of the pin. So maybe a different shot would have been better? I dunno: I was on the green this time — and in one shot.

I putted the 10 yard putt to within 6 inches and tapped in for double bogey — or a net par!

Hole 9 – Par 5, treat it as a par 7

Par 5 and, since it’s par 5, it is really tough for me.

There’s the lake we first met on hole 5 that protects the green and defends the right side of the fairway. The left side is Hole 8 and the right side is Hole 5, up to the lake, at least.

My original plan was an excellent one: hit 8 iron a whole bunch of times. But I thought about it headed up to the tee box and there wasn’t a lot to lose from a driver. I haven’t topped the ball that much lately …

So I hit driver. And it went … not very good. I top-hooked the driver. But despite the mishit, the ball went about as long as a beautiful 8 iron would. And it was in the fairway.

So I reset after my short drive and absolutely CRUSHED my 8 iron from the fairway back to the fairway. I hit my 8 iron so well that it left me 100 yards away from the green. And I don’t even remember overswinging.

I was so excited at the attempt for a real-life GIR that I hit my pitching wedge just long of the green into the rough.

It was a little too deep to putt so I grabbed the trusty sand wedge. But the promise of a par on a par 5 proved too seductive and I fluffed my chip. At least I went from the rough to the fringe.

That left me 10 yards from the pin. Interrupted by an excellent Tyrone birdie ( I think he putted in from off the green) I putted it to be 1 yard short. “A 1-yard putt for bogey” I thought as I strolled to the green.

Well, I don’t know if I thought of that. I do know that I was not focused and promptly missed the 1-yard putt. I did make it coming back. For a double bogey — a net par.

Front 9 summary

I had a par, 2 bogeys, 5 doubles, and a +4 that adds up to ..

I shot 51!? On the front 9? That is pretty good for me. Correction: that is amazing for me!

I try not to add up the score, but I knew I was doing well against my goal of breaking 100. The others I was playing with wanted me to add it up to keep score, so I did.

I shot a 51 on the front 9. At this course, my previous best was a 57. So that’s six strokes better for a +16 — or a net score of +3.

How did that happen? Well, my tee shots, excluding hole 9, were well struck. 3 of them aimed wrong, but 5 of them were in the fairway.

My approach shots, which is where my game is the weakest, wasn’t even that bad. 15 strokes may seem like a lot, but consider that I expected to have 14 (2 on 1, 2, 4, 5, and 8, 4 on 9, and 1 on 7), 15 strokes isn’t that bad. I also stayed in the fair.

My chipping was also good: since I only hit 1 GIR, I would expect to have 8 chips. I had 10 and only had three holes with three chips.

Really, the reason that I wasn’t under my goal score of 48 was because:

Hole 1: bad SW approach shot put me in a terrible lie

Hole 2: shank and then a too long PW pitch shot

Hole 5: chunked a 8 iron

Hole 6: Lateral hazard on the tee

Hole 7: chunk 9 iron

Hole 8: thin SW again

Hole 9: fluffed chip, missed putt

That’s 9 strokes with easy improvements. Especially the missed putt on 9.

My putting was fantastic: I had 15 putts which could have easily been 14 with better focus. It could have been 13 with a little more luck (hole 7 and hole 8).

I can easily do a best 5 shots from the front 9. Heck, it’s way more than 5.

  1. Perfect tee shot on 1
  2. Perfect approach on 1
  3. Great putt on 1
  4. Great 6 iron on 2
  5. Great chip on 2
  6. GIR on 3
  7. 5.3 y putt on 3
  8. Good PW punch on 4
  9. Good PW to green on 4
  10. Good 8 iron to FW on 5
  11. Good putt on 7 to 6 inches from 45 feet!
  12. Good putt to 6 inches on 8
  13. Good 8 iron on hole 9
  14. Good fringe putt on 9

That’s 14 strokes where I don’t think I could improve on them. I would like to do those next time.

Overall, I had 27 useful shots out of 31 shots from the field (the thins are debatable but I do count them; the blocks were good swings too). I had 15 good putts of 17 tries (remember, two putts from off the green).

Onto the back 9.

Hole 10 – Par 4, treat as a par 6

Hole 10 is an uphill par 4. It runs right (well, the range is on the right) next to the range, which presents OB along the right side. The left side is bordered by a fence protecting an OB road.

The green is guarded long by bunkers rear left and behind it. To the right is open, except you’re chipping downhill. And the green is elevated and two tier. I don’t remember where the pin was but that tends to protect against missing right.

In retrospect, I should have stuck to my plan: 6 iron or 8 iron off the tee, 8 up the hill, and then a pitching wedge to sand wedge onto the elevated green.

Instead, I decided to hit driver, on the logic that the previous driver had been horrible. Usually, I will follow with a good strike after a bad strike — but this is also immediately afterward.

I followed my mediocre driver on hole 9 with an okay driver on hole 10. Good contact, but the driver faded right, headed toward OB.

I went to look for the ball and didn’t find it until Giorgio came over and found it for me, just on the edge of OB. It was a Titelist Pro V1, so I should have expected to lose the ball.

I was so elated to find the ball that I didn’t really aim very well. I hit a punch shot PW to get the ball back on to the green, only to hit a palm tree in my line and have the ball die at the base.

So I hit my PW again from the rough, another punch shot just short of the green. It is an elevated two-tier green so it was actually fortunate I couldn’t try for the green to miss short (the palm tree and other trees prevented a shot getting to the green). Both Giorgio and Tyrone had multiple shots roll down the hill on approach.

That left me 45 yards uphill. I thought about it and decided that a bump and run was probably the best choice. Considering I’d go about halfway to the green and then expect it to roll the rest of the way, uphill, I decided on a 7 iron.

It was a good chip shot but it left me about 5.3 yards to the pin. Notice how specific I was?

Yeah. I made it. Second time today with a 16-foot make. Bogey for a net birdie.

Hole 11 – Par 4, treat as a par 6

Hole 11 is a long par 4 with a very faint dogleg to the right. The left side is wide open, with a hill at about 200 to 250 yards out that borders trees and OB. The right is the fairway to hole 16. So it really is wide open. It is long, but the second shot is toward a downhill green so if you can get the ball over the hill, it should run.

The bunker is well greened — well, flip that. Opposite.

Green has no bunker behind but that’s okay, it doesn’t need one. The long downhill means you don’t want to go long. There’s a bunker left of the green, right of the green and in front.

My plan was: 8 iron, 8 iron, 8 iron. However, since it was so wide-open, I decided to hit driver. I aimed left side and knocked it down the right side of the fairway, straight as a frozen rope.

The ball went over the hill and I thought that with the ball flight i had, it would just keep going. When we came upon the ball, however, I discovered it had stopped in the fairway about where it landed. Bad luck.

I was maybe 170 from the green and had a good lie, so I hit 6 iron.

I crushed it, perfectly straight, but headed right at the left bunker! It stopped short, in the fairway. The pin was in the front which meant it was a tricky chip.

I hit a 10y lob wedge chip a little long to get it on the green. Then I missed the 5y putt short (since it was downhill), leaving an easy in for bogey.

These are two challenging holes, 7 and 3 on the handicap index, and I bogeyed both.

Sorry, net-birdied both.

Hole 12 – Par 3, treat as a par 4

Hole 12 is a par 3, with the front of the green and the majority of the approach guarded by a lake. It is fairly short and has a bunker right of the green and behind it. There’s plenty of room to go long around the green, though.

My plan was to hit whatever would find the middle of the green. Instead of sticking to the plan, I decided that I need to try to stick it on the pin.

I also had planned to hit 8 iron but I clubbed up to a 7 iron since it was a bit longer today: pin was in the back and the tee boxes were back. So about 135 to the pin.

I hit a good 7 iron that I aimed poorly. At the center of the green it would have been birdie-able because it faded right onto the fringe and then bounced onto the cart path.

I took relief from the cart path and hit a LW chip 23 yards when I wanted it to go 15 yards. It rolled off the green leaving me 8 yards coming back.

I missed the par putt from the fringe a little long, to about 3 yards long. But then I drained that 3 yard putt :).

Another bogey! This time a net par.

Hole 13, par 4, treat it as a par 6

That was pretty sweet play. But Hole 13 is a beast.

It is really long, the longest par 4 on the course in total yardage. From the tips it is like 477 yards.

However, it is really downhill, which moves the handicap index to 5. However, there is no room to the right: it’s red-staked right. Left is the fairway for hole 15, so left is the miss. But I don’t miss left.

Yes, if you miss left you may have to contend with some fairway bunkers but that is better than a penalty stroke.

I decided to hit driver since it worked on Hole 10 and 11. And it worked BEAUTIFULLY. Great stroke down the center of the fairway and out of sight, down the hill.

I think the ball ended up stopped at 290 yards out in a decent patch of grass. It was about 160 from the pin but way downhill, like 130 equivalent. So out came the trusty 8 iron.

And I hit a pure shot that bounced on the green and settled toward the hole. Pin high shot just 7 yards from hole.

That’s a fairway in regulation and a green in regulation and a legitimate birdie chance. It’s 7 yards so it’s a tough birdie.

Giorgio politely showed me the line with his par putt and I lined it up. It was a good birdie chance — that I left just a tad short. It was the right line and I was happy with a par – a net EAGLE.

That’s 3 over in 4 holes. Who is playing this golf?

Hole 14, Par 4, treat as a par 5.

Hole 14 is very challenging. It’s short, like 350 yards, and downhill. What makes it hard? 

The entire left side along the fairway is a lake and it’s about 150 yards to carry the water. The right side is pretty narrow: the fairway drops off into OB and scrub and just places you don’t want to be. There are also two fairway bunkers at the landing zone.

At the green, there are two bunkers in front of the green to the right and one to the left behind the green. If you go right and long, you roll down the hill into OB.

The water is what makes this hole so tough, especially for me. My plan was to hit 8 iron or 6 iron to the fairway, then hit whatever would be short of the end of the fairway (to avoid the lake). Then a pitching wedge to the green.

I hit a great 6 iron that of course decided to draw a bit. I landed on the fairway but not far from the water. Here, look at some terrapins.


It was a good lie and I made a good swing with my 6 iron, since the water carry was about 120 yards. Even a mishit 6 iron will go that far.

But I hit the ball very nicely, leaving me just 25y short of the front pin, in the fairway again.

I decided to hit a LW and carried it a bit long to about 8 yards long. I tried again for fun with a putt instead of a lob wedge and got it to about 7 yards out, still short of the green.

I was on the fringe and putted downhill and just went way way way long, leaving me about 8 yards from the pin but going uphill. So in terms of position, the putt would have been a better decision.

I putted the 8y putt close and then made it. But what a bummer.

Double bogey (net bogey) but still pretty good on a challenging hole. Still +5 through 5 holes.

Hole 15, Par 5, treat as a par 6

Hole 15 is a par 5 and par 5 are my nemeses. This has the lake from Hole 14 left of the pin and then a long expanse of open rough to the right.

The other issue is that this hole has an elevated tee box, with the rough preceding the fairway rolling off toward the lake. It’s also a fairly challenging distance for me, over 150 yards.

There are a large number of bunkers in the landing area right of the fairway. If you can hit it longer than 200 yards, the left side is wide open, into the tee of Hole 14 and then the fairway of hole 13.

There are bunkers by the green, something like six or 7, all to collect hero shots for the under GIR big hitters.

I decided to hit driver since it had gone well the last few times. Unfortunately, I swung way too hard. I took a divot and popped it up.

(I actually don’t remember how hard a I swung but it was … not good).

My plan had been to hit 8 irons all the way up the fairway (including off the tee). Since that hadn’t happened, I decided to take my medicine and get back to the fairway.

8 iron did just that, landing in 2 shots where I would have expected a 6 iron to put me on a normal swing.

I then hit a thin 6 iron from the fairway into some … not grass. I think before I have said that golf on not grass is hard. This was the case.

I was salivating over getting it close to the green, even from the not grass, so I overswung and chunked a 6 iron.

However, a chunk that moves the ball ins’t a bad thing. In grass again (finally), I hit a very good but short just-short-of-the-green 6 iron.

I putted from the front of the green an unrecorded distance to a 1 yard putt for double bogey. Which I didn’t focus on, missed, and then made for the triple. Stupid par 5s.

Hole 16, Par 4, treat as a par 6

Getting into the home stretch now, which includes the hardest hole on the course. Nearly as long as hole 13, hole 16 has the distinction of being almost 460 yards from the tips and 390 yards from the white tees. And it’s a par 4.

Why is it so hard? Well it’s fairly straight, but it’s a blind, uphill tee shot. Then, there is very little left side to work with and the right side is downhill to the fairway of hole 11.

It also narrows intensely at the green. There’s a huge bunker in front on the right and an OB obstruction that guards it to the left, along with a bunker behind that obstruction. Miss too long and you’re going down the cart path through the tunnel to Hole 17/Hole 10’s green.

So yeah, it’s tough.

Since my driver went poorly on hole 15, I decided to give myself another shot. And I hit a pretty good driver fade that ran just off the fairway.

Then I made a ridiculous decision. I thought “Why not hit 3 wood?” After all, I’d just hit it 200 yards uphill with my driver. I had 200 yards to the hole. That’s about as far as my 3 wood goes — if I hit the ball successfully.

However, me and the 3 wood, we got issues. I have never been able to figure it out. And this dysfunctional relationship continued here.

I’m really puzzled as to why I did this. Just a brain fart.

I made okay contact from the rough but the ball started hooking, right toward OB. And then it hit a tree and caromed off into the fairway about 110 yards from the pin.

I hit my 9 iron from that spot. I thought it was chunk but — chunks don’t go the distance you expect. I ended up being fine. The ball was on the green, 11 yards from the pin.

Unfortunately, I putted too short on my par putt and left myself 2.5 yards for bogey. Which I managed to make by hitting the stick. Yes, it bounced off. But Covid rules say you don’t pull the flagstick, hitting it counts as holing it. Right? If I had pulled it, the putt would have dropped. 😛

So i’m taking a bogey. Net birdie.

Hole 17, par 3, treat as a par 4

Hole 17 is a short par 3. Where all the other par 3s have obstacles, this one just has a swale leading to the green. There’s a pair of bunkers left, a bunker right, and a bunker behind the green. The pin was very in the front, and the tees were up, taking a normally 120 yard hole to about 100 yards.

So that’s a pitching wedge for me. And if it goes long, it goes long. It’s not a catastrophe.

I lined up and hit a swing — and slipped. That punted the ball thin and right into that sand trap which I have hit every time on this hole.

Each of my companions made similar errors so we all resolved to hit another tee shot just for fun.

I kid you not, I hit my tee shot 106 yards and spun it back to 103 yards, leaving about 4 yards uphill to the pin, on the green.

The rest of my companions didn’t fare so well but we all trudged up to our first shots, bemoaning someone who refused mulligans and politely allowed them to everyone else.

Look, I told them they could take as many mulligans as they’d like but I was not going to. And when the worst golfer says he’s not taking mulligans, I think that means you don’t either.

So I went to my ball in the sand that was about a 7 yard carry to get out, good lie. It then had to run like 15 yards on the green to get to the downhill hole. I briefly thought of a PW bump and run but thought better of it.

Get it on the green, and all that. Don’t be fancy.

I hit a pretty good bunker shot that just got better and better and better. The ball would not stop rolling and was on a perfect line, right for the pin.

It stopped 6 inches away which you know I made for the par save. Okay, it was conceded to me but I’m not missing a 6 inch putt.

I had marked my second ball so I went back to it. It was 2 yards to the pin. I made it. So that would have been a birdie. Oh well.

Hole 18, Par 4, treat as a Par 6

Very downhill.

Hole 18 is a long hole that is made more challenging by being extremely downhill.

“Doesn’t downhill make it easier?” I hear you say. In this case … no.

 There is OB left that opens up into a landing area maybe 200 yards away and then there’s a cavalcade of bunkers and trees right, alongside white stakes along the right side, guarding the driving range.

The green is heavily bunkered and further downhill from the landing area.  The only safe miss is short, but then you have to carry a bunker to the green. This is a hole where you always feel like you can drive the green — and I don’t think many people do, despite the low distance.

Well, my friend Jimmy could.

I knew at this point that I was playing really well. I had 2 pars and 4 bogeys which is exceptional for me. I really should have checked my score, for I would have realized that I was shooting at 91 at this point.

If I had known I had 91 going into the final hole, I would have made some adjustments. For instance, I think I would have taken it a bit easier. I would have stuck to my plan — after all, last time I played this hole, I hit a 6 iron into the fairway, and a 6 iron at the green and then a chip on to miss a putt for bogey. Yeah, I would have taken that.

I instead hit driver. My comrades, posed here, were joking about how they should take a picture for good content. I waved them off and turned on the driver.

I don’t know what happened but it went way way way left. Out of bounds.

I should have availed myself of the rules and taken the ball in the fairway, down in the landing area, hitting stroke 4. Instead, I re-teed and hit a beautiful straight shot that apparently ran into one of the fairway bunkers on the right side.

I also could have taken the mulligan my playing partners offered me but the only path is the virtuous path.

I was 110 from the stick so I decided to hit a 9 iron from the bunker. I had two terrible practice swings since I couldn’t ground my club. Yes, I should have stepped out of the hazard and taken my practice swing.

And that was how, on stroke 4, I chunked my 9 iron from the back of the bunker to the front of the bunker. Stroke 5, I managed to get the ball out of the bunker, sure. But I hit far too far behind the ball and what would have been an excellent greenside shot was a terrible approach shot.

The ball was out of the bunker into some horrifying rough. Committed to my pain, I tried to get the ball out of the rough. I succeeded.

It ran into the “fairway” if you can call it that. Really, it was the mud.

So I chunked it from the mud, trying to do too much. So, finally, from the not mud fairway, I hit a bump-and-run pitching wedge up the hill and onto the green.

We are now on stroke 9, finally putting. It was a 4y downhill putt that went a little bit long. I cleaned it for a par … Wait no, a +6 10.

Then I added my score and realized that my stupidity hitting driver had cost me a chance at achieving my best ever championship score by a hair.

I won’t make that mistake on that hole again. It’ll be irons down the hill until I can hit the driver consistently. And even then — irons might be the right way to go.

Back 9

I had a back 9 50 on a championship course. I have shot a 48 before on a back 9 on a championship course but a 50 is excellent for me — especially when I think that a 5 or a 6 on hole 18 would have given me, well, a 45 or a 46. I would have achieved my unarticulated goal of going below 100 by a decent margin.

So hole 18 cost me the score I wanted.

Okay so the back 9: I was much shakier off the tee. I had an extra tee shot due to the OB on 18, and struck 7 pretty well. I only found 4 fairways on 8 tries. 

That’s the price I paid for the driver, which actually helped me out. It got me into an OK spot on 10, a good spot on 11, a good spot on 13, a bad spot on 15, a good spot on 16, and then torpedoed hole 18.

My approach shots were not as bad as I thought: I planned to have 15 and had 15 — but the issue was that I had 11 through 6 holes and then added 4 on the 7th and last par 4 hole.

Chipping was good: 9 chips on 8 holes where I needed a chip. Even the double chips that I had (on 12, on 14) I got to a position where I could putt the second shot. 

Putting was also excellent: 15 putts, and just 1 miss from within 2 yards, which could have easily been 14 putts. Overall, I had 18 shots with my putter and only really missed 3 of them.

Really, the issue was hazards on the back 9, and really just hole 18. Completely lost focus.

Still, there was a lot to be proud of on the back 9.

  1. 7 iron bump and run on hole 10
  2. 16 foot putt on hole 10
  3. Driver on Hole 11
  4. Approach 6 on Hole 11
  5. 9 foot putt on Hole 12
  6. Drive on Hole 13
  7. 8 iron on Hole 13
  8. 7 yard putt on Hole 13
  9. 6 iron off tee on hole 14
  10. 6 iron to green on hole 14
  11. 8 iron rescue shot on hole 15
  12. 6 iron 5th shot on hole 15
  13. 8 foot putt on hole 16
  14. Provisional pitching wedge on hole 17
  15. Sand wedge on hole 17
  16. Pitching wedge bump and run on hole 18 to end the pain

That’s 30 excellent shots!

Overall, hole 18 left a bad taste in my mouth when I should have not let it do so. On the back 9, I had … 31 total shots and 24 useful strokes. That’s significantly fewer than the front 9, but it also includes hole 18, which accounted for 4 of those bad shots. Without hole 18, that’s 21 good shots in 24 strokes.

Putting was my best performance ever. 30 putts and just half were from within 2 yards. While I wish I could have made every short putt, I didn’t have to make as many short putts because I made putts of 16 feet (2 times), 9 feet (1 time) and 8 feet (2 times). That’s great work!

Overall it was a good round especially since I had been ill earlier in the week. It was my best score on a championship course and a 10 stroke improvement from the last time I played the course. It was my best putting performance by far. 

Until next time!

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.


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.


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.


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


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.