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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great start.

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

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

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

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

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

This time, I made the 4 footer. Woot.

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

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

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

At least I hit the green?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finished that for a par which felt really good.

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

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

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

That’s another 3-putt bogey.

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

Made the tap in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Year, New You: Oceanside Muni 1/3/2022

I went to Oceanside Muni on my observed New Year’s Day: Monday, January 3. I went later in the morning which proved to be a bit of a mistake: the range was closed and the course was starting to fill up.

I got paired with three retired guys, one from Massachusetts, and two locals. The two local dudes had played together before (but weren’t necessarily friends). But they didn’t mock me for playing the gold tees.

I didn’t have any special goals going into the round. My biggest was I was going to try to get it on the green in one shot, each time. Oh and I wanted to make all short putts.

I’m writing this about 2 weeks later so there are certainly some details I will miss.

Hole 1 started off really well: I hit an excellent 6 iron to the middle of the fairway. It got around the dogleg and was about 170. 

I was about 150 from the center of the green so I swung … and topped the ball with my 7 iron.

Fortunately, it was a good top: the ball had tons of top spin and rolled out to the distance I’d hoped, about 150 yards. Didn’t hit the green but, you know, all good.

I chipped on with my putter to a decent distance, around 7 to 8 feet. That’s not bad and I refused to feel bad that it didn’t mean an easy up and down par. As it was, I two-putted for bogey, giving me a new record on that hole.

Hole 2 we were slightly delayed by the group playing front of us. 3 women, I have a feeling I would have had a better time playing with them than the men I played with. It wasn’t that they were slow but … apparently they were regulars who play together. There was certainly some latent sexism on display about how terrible it was to play with women.

So I probably would have done better with them is all I was saying.

Anyway, after a long wait, I decided to hit 3 wood on hole 2. My thought process was that a well struck ball would give me about 100 yards out. A poorly struck shot would have tons of room right.

Unfortunately, I hit my 3 wood right into the tree that borders the right side of the fairway. That wasn’t the worst thing, as the tree definitely saved me from going into the not grass.

I ended up in the fairway with a 142 yard shot – so basically as if I had hit an 8 iron off the tee. I took my 8 iron and hit it toward the green.

I absolutely crushed the ball. It hit at the front for the green and then rolled out to pin high. I hit my 8 iron nearly 160 yards,  with a slight draw. My ball was 7 yards off the green, but it was a downhill shot, so I was careful. I got it on, to 7 feet out, and then I … had a lot of trouble getting into the hole. I tried to make the 7 footer instead of being happy with a bogey. That meant I left a lot of meat on the bone with putt two, about a yard.

Normally that’s no problem but that was an issue this time. I missed the putt at least gave myself an option coming back.

Double bogey. So far, I was on a record pace: 2 strokes better than any previous round.

Ironically, before this hole, after being complimented on my swing, I had mentioned something about how good I was at putting. Me and my big mouth.

I know one of the players was, at this point, annoyed with me playing the yellow tees. “With a swing like that, you shouldn’t be playing from there.”

He was also having some early round problems which I think explains his bitterness.

Hole 3 was another where we had to wait for a while. The green on this hole is really really sloped, and so Phil, the best player of all of us, mentioned that we wanted to be short.

So I hit my 7 iron, nice and pure and short. That left me 12 yards from the green. So, you know, if I’d hit 6 iron, I’d have been on the front of the green.

I was 12 yards from a very sloped, very shortsided green. So this guy’s advice was good for hitting the competent but I … should not have listened and just gone center of the green.

I decided to putt from the fringe and didn’t give myself enough juice to get through the fairway to the green. Thinking about it now, I was certainly trying to make it, not get it close. Had I been thinking more creatively, I should have just putted onto the green, as best I could. The ball would probably roll back down the green toward the hole.

Anyway, I missed my chip putt leaving me like a yard from the hole, but still off the green. I then missed that 1 yard putt chip, very tentatively, leaving me a yard from the hole.

Promptly missed that putt so another double bogey. With 3 shots from within a yard of the hole.

Hole 4 is a par 5 and I have actually done pretty well on it. This time, I hit 3 wood off the tee and crushed it, 200 yards, through the fairway.

I hit my 8 iron from the rough, back into the fairway, leaving me 80 yards out with sand wedge. Unfortunately, I was next to Negative Nelly from Massachusetts, with whom I was equal on the 3rd shot (to his chagrin since, you know, he’d been playing from the white tees). He went long of the green, I thinned my sand wedge short and right, right into one of the sand traps that protects the green.

He then chipped in for birdie. Meanwhile, I pitched out of the sand to 10 feet from the green. I two-putted for an easy bogey, just focusing on getting my putt close to the hole.

Still on a very good pace through 4 holes. A net +1.

Hole 5 was one where we were again waiting. A long par 3, we rolled up right after the group of ladies teed off. They finished pretty quickly but there was still grousing.

On the tee, my playing partners also mentioned some weird stuff about media narratives and so forth. They asked what I did, I told them I worked for Qualcomm, and I explained that the 5G isn’t going to fry your brain because … it is a wavelength blocked by human skin.

After that, I hit a 6 iron 154 yards to the green.

I was 42 feet from the pin, but I had an excellent lag putt, just getting close to within 1 yard. And then I … missed the 1 yarder and made the 1 yarder coming back. Nice.

Hole 6 is an easy hole but I didn’t learn my lessons from previous experience. Instead of hitting a short iron off the tee and giving a comfortable lie and easy shot into the green, I hit 6 iron and tried to cut the corner.

The result was a mis-aimed draw that ran through the fairway into the hardpan bordering the OB line to hole 4’s fairway.

I had a clean line to the hole, however, and was able to hit a decent 9 iron that faded slightly and just stopped on the fringe of the green, in between the green and the bunker. But not in the bunker.

Honestly, that was an excellent result considering the lie I had. I wasn’t in the bunker and I was close to the green.

My chipped putt was excellent, funneling down to the hole and ending up 4 feet away from the hole. I promptly missed that footer, not reading my playing partners’ breaks at all, and then, mercifully, was conceded the 1 footer.

For bogey.

You bet your ass that I was thinking birdie on the freaking tee shot. Then par on the chip.

Too many expectations.

Hole 7 is the hardest hole on the course. The bad news is that I’ve bogeyed it the last 2 times I played because I took it very seriously.

This time, I had the best tee shot of my playing partners: a 9 iron, right in the middle of the fairway.

This led me to a pivotal moment: I was 200 yards from the green. I pulled my 3 wood and … topped it into the water, into the lateral hazard that protects the dogleg left.

That was very stupid. Berating myself, I hit a 6 iron and sliced it off the fairway into the hardpan dirt very right of green. I didn’t aim the shot at all, either. Just swung and screwed up.

That left me 50 yards from the green. It was a terrible lie and I hit, honestly, a decent sand wedge but it ran out very long. That left me 18 yards long of the green, with a putt to a terrible pin placement, which was in between the top level and bottom level.

Honestly, I should have tried to miss downhill to give me an uphill putt. Instead, I putted to an 8 yard downhill putt that I missed to 1 yard.

Then I missed that 1 yarder all the way down the hill to 5 yards out. I putted back up and in for a 4-putted 11. Blargh.

Obviously what I could have done differently here was: 1. Don’t hit 3 wood. 2. Miss well downhill to give a decent three-putt, two-putt chance.

Hole 8 is a pretty wide open par 5. I decided to hit 3 wood and it was a bad choice: I overswung and topped it 40 yards into the dirt hardpan.

6 iron rescued me from the hardpan into the fairway. Then 7 iron got me into the fairway about 110 out from the hole.

I hit 9 iron for a reason I don’t really know and hit a fade to the right of the green.

That left a really, really long putt chip which I just blasted over the hole on the green.

I then chipped it close, leaving me a four footer – which I missed. In for an 8. Hooray.

Hole 9

I remember feeling pretty frustrated after hole 8. I had to have a pep talk with myself which had moderate success.

Anyway, hole 9 i hit a 6 iron off the tee that didn’t go long enough. I had a narrow window toward the right side of the green, about 150 away, but there was a tree blocking the majority of my approach.

Worse, the tree was going to collect any shot that wasn’t a lob wedge or sand wedge shot. But I thought I could hit the rightish area of the green with my 7 iron and … promptly hit the tree. The shot was screaming on the perfect line too.

So instead of putting for birdie I was underneath a tree. I punched out into the fairway with my pitching wedge, about 100 yards, leaving me about 30 yards from the hole. I hit an excellent lob wedge shot that almost hit the pin but rolled out to leave me 26 feet or so for bogey.

I had the mindset of “get it close” and, instead, I just flat-out made the putt. Go figure.

So that was a rough front 9. I made a 54, courtesy of the blow-up on hole 7 and, of course, the terrible short putting.

I had 7 of 9 good tee shots, hitting 6 fairways and 1 green. I also had 14 approach shots, which was pretty good considering I would expect to have 9 (you know, if I were competent). Chipping was also not terrible: 9 chips on 8 holes.

Putting was the issue: 21 putts on 9 holes is pretty terrible. I remember not feeling particularly composed when putting. Very aimless.

Hole 10 I decided to hit driver. Pros: it was pretty much wide open. Cons: I hit a slice into the hardpan right.

I hit a chunky 6 iron from the hardpan onto the fairway, certainly within striking distance, about 120 or so yards from the center of the green.

That’s a pitching wedge, so I hit a good one, around 110 yards. That left me a long uphill putt (like over 50 feet) for par. I gave it a good stroke, getting to 7 feet, which is a tough distance. I got it fairly close and my playing partners asked me to pick it up. So that’s a 6 (because I definitely missed the conceded putt).

Hole 11 is a short par 3 that’s slightly downhill, I think. I had a good 8 iron off the tee that faded around the bunker, on the green. That felt really good.

Second GIR of the round and a significantly shorter putt: still 33 feet for birdie but better than 42 feet for birdie. I had what I thought was a good putt, but unfortunately, it took a weird, weird bounce and ran off to the right. Pin high, but 7 feet away from the pin. I missed the 7 footer  really close, leaving a bogey.

Bogey’s a net par, so I’m taking it.

Hole 12 is super-duper uphill. I had the benefit of being maybe 80 yards shorter than my playing partners by virtue of my tee box. I hit 6 iron off the tee, a beautiful shot into the fairway.

This left me about 50 yards from the pin. Arcoss told me it was the equivalent of something like 80 yards, but the pin was very in the front. 

But I listened to the Arcoss and hit very long of the green, very thin with my pitching wedge. I was certainly influenced by my playing partners, all of whom were short.

The ball was 16 yards away from the hole, but in a puttable lie. I decided I would just putt it on and hit an excellent shot to 7 feet from the hole. Naturally, I completely missed that putt but it was a good miss, to 2 feet. Then i missed the 2-footer.

Knocked it in for a 6. Always great to 3-putt.

Hole 13 is very short and a very downhill par 3. I decided to hit SW off the tee and … chunked it. Ugh.

Fortunately, this is the right hole to chunk as the ball ran all the way down the hill. Unfortunately, I was in a mess of dirt and sticks  – probably the worst lie of the round.

I pitched it out with my LW but I was aimed RIGHT at the bunker right of the green. The ball was buried, short-sided, in the pot bunker.

So I grabbed my lob wedge and made an excellent sand shot. I got it onto the green, over the lip, and gave myself an uphill putt, which was nearly going to be impossible. So I had a great play there.

16-foot putt uphill nearly went in, leaving to an easy double bogey – where I didn’t miss the short putt. Finally.

Obviously, this was about 2 strokes more than I’d hoped off the tee.

Hole 14 has always been a rough par 5 for me. It’s pretty long, with water all up the right side.

I decided to hit 3 wood, because I was optimistic, and it was a poor shot. At least it got into the air, honestly, but the ball sliced right, toward the hazard. Fortunately, I could see it come to rest right near the hazard.

The ball was absolutely buried — but at least it was on grass. I hit a heroic 8 iron out of that muck and got the ball back into the fairway. That left me about 200 yards out and I hit a decent, but not good, 6 iron that faded a bit.

That left me about 40 yards from the pin, over a bunker. I hit an excellent lob wedge shot that left me a 14 foot putt. I putted it close and then putted it in.

Hole 15 is a wide-open, long par 4. I decided to hit my driver off the tee because a top would end up in the fairway, a slice would end up in the fairway (because I was aimed down the left side), and … well, I wanted to give it a try.

It was my best drive of the round, over 200 yards, and gave me a glimpse of what a driver can do for me.

That left me about 140 from the front pin position, which is my 8 iron distance. Realistically, I probably should have hit 7 iron to ensure I got there, but I majorly overswung and hit a chunky 8 iron. However, it was short, which was where I had wanted to miss.

Unfortunately, I hit my pitched LW to the shortsided front pin position about half the distance it needed to go. I was expecting a roll out and instead the ball just died on the front of the green.

So another chip on, this one excellent, to 1 yard away.

Did I make the 1 yarder? No. but I made the next one. Double-bogey which was disappointing since, once again, I’d been thinking par or birdie on shot 2. Ugh.

At this point, I was slightly behind pace: 87 strokes through 15 holes. However, I knew I wasn’t going to break 100 this day – the 10 on hole 7 prevented that.

Hole 16 is something of a bugbear for me: according to my scoring, this is the most challenging hole on the course and I’m not really sure why. It’s a decently long par 4, but (checks scorecard) it’s apparently the second-hardest hole on the course.

Well then.

Anyway, excited by my drive on hole 15, I decided to replicate that success on hole 16. I then topped the ball off the tee about 25 yards. I decided to hit another (because I didn’t learn my lesson from St. Mark’s after Christmas) and sliced it into the hardpan right of the hole.

I didn’t see my ball down and my playing partners, thinking I’d just re-teed and given a mulligan, picked up my ball for me and wandered away from the tee. 

So I counted that ball as lost and went to find my second shot.

I could not find it. So I dropped in the fairway near where it went out and hit a good 6 iron to leave me about 50 yards out – for my fifth stroke.

I was maybe 50 yards from the hole and completely punted/skulled (sic?) my pitch shot. My lob wedge went 93 yards, over the green, and into the lateral hazard behind the hole.

So I dropped back there when i couldn’t find the ball and pitched onto the green, this time the 50 yard shot going just 47 yards. Sheesh.

I had a not-good putt to 7 feet, and then I missed from 7 feet close, and finally made the 2-footer for and +7 11.

I mean, the errors here started off the tee. Losing my routine (playing my first shot) and losing the ball put me in a really bad position. Not feeling confident hitting into the green was an error but it wouldn’t have been too bad if I hadn’t hit shot 5…

Hole 17

I decided I’d learned my lesson. I hit 6 iron off the tee, perfect and in the fairway. Hit 6 iron again, again, perfect shot and in the fairway.

Only this one was … less perfect than I had hoped. I was behind a tree about 100 yards out of the fairway. I had to hit a low shot to get to the green. That, or shape a pitching wedge.

And this is where I listened to my playing partner, the Massachussets Mysognist who complained that I was playing from the gold tees. 

He said, “just punch a 6 iron on up there.” His ball was about a yard behind mine. He executed as expected.

But there’s the issue: I hit my 6 iron as far as he hits his 3 wood (I know because I’d done that on the previous shot). But I listened to him and hit a punch shot 7 iron.

Even though earlier in the round I had hit a punch shot 100 yards by pitching wedge.

Anyway, I hit a great punch shot but it went, naturally, 144 yards.

I had 40 yards to carry to get back onto the green. I carried it back close, onto the fringe, but 20 yards from the pin.

I had a great chip putt to 2 feet, which I then made for a bogey. That was a good bounce back for me.

Out with the driver and in with the irons: on hole 18, I hit an excellent, 180 yard 6 iron off the tee. That left me about 90 to 100 yards from green, which is pitching wedge distance.

Unfortunately, I was again thinking birdie. I hit a fade, right into the bunker right of the pin. No matter: I felt confident and … just missed the shot, right into the lip.

No matter: reloaded and … hit it into the lip again. Third try, got it out, onto the green and 33 feet away. I made a 32-foot putt to leave an easy triple-bogey putt. So much for a birdie there, I guess. 

The back 9 was worse than the front 9, mostly because of the 11 on hole 16.

Tee shots were poor: I had 10 and only 5 good ones. Incidentally, 4 of the good ones were with my irons (on 11, 12, 17, and 18).

Approach shots were … actually exactly what was expected? 14 approach shots, which is what I’d expect considering the extra shots I tend to have on approach (normal players would expect 9).

Chipping was also somehow good, with 9 chips on 8 holes.

So the downfall, once again, was putting: 21 putts on 9 holes. Really, the biggest issue came on those first 3 holes, with three tree putts (and, of course, 1 2-putt from 1 yard out, ugh).

So it was the tee shots and it was the putting.

Things I’ve learned:

  1. Remove driver from the bag
  2. Remove 3 wood
  3. You are good at hitting irons. Continue to hit irons!

Best shots

  1. Tee on hole 1
  2. 8 iron approach on hole 2
  3. 3 wood on hole 4
  4. 8 iron on hole 4
  5. Sand shot on hole 4
  6. Tee shot on hole 5
  7. Lag putt on hole 5
  8. Hole 6 putt chip
  9. Hole 7 tee shot
  10. Hole 7 3rd putt
  11. Hole 8 6 iron
  12. Hole 8’s 7 iron
  13. Hole 8’s 2nd chip putt
  14. Hole 9 tee shot
  15. Hole 9 pitch shot
  16. Hole 9 putt
  17. Hole 10 PW approach
  18. Hole 11 tee shot
  19. Hole 12 tee shot
  20. Hole 13 sand shot
  21. Hole 14 rescue shot
  22. Hole 14 pitch shot over a bunker to the green
  23. Hole 15 driver
  24. Hole 16 6 iron approach shot
  25. Hole 17 tee shot
  26. Hole 17 second shot
  27. Hole 17 putt chip
  28. Hole 18 tee shot
  29. Hole 18 first putt

Dumb shots that cost me lots of strokes

  1. Chip on hole 3 – save up to 2 strokes by going for the middle of the green with the chip shot. Definitely too cute.
  2. 8 misses on short putts
  3. 3 wood over the water on 7, at least 2 strokes
  4. 3 wood on 8 – at least 1 stroke
  5. Approach on 12, Arccos cost me 1 shot, maybe 2
  6. Tee shot on 13, cost me 2
  7. Driver on 16 cost me 4
  8. LW on 16 cost me 2 more
  9. Missed punch on 17 cost me 2
  10. Sand on 18 cost me 2

Making all the short putts would have given me up to 8 more strokes (actually 10 because of hole 7 but we’ll go conversative with 8).

3 wood on hole 3 cost me 2 strokes. Driver on hole 16 cost me 4 strokes. That’s 6 strokes.

So that’s a very very easy 14 strokes back. Which makes sense. I had a 54 on the front with a 10 and an 8. And then a 57 on the back, with a 7 and an 11. That’s 36 strokes on 4 holes, or 23 over.

Double bogies on those four holes would have given me … 5 strokes on the front and 6 on the back. Wouldn’t you know: that’s a 100!

Golf, you cruel mistress.

After-Christmas Round: St. Mark Golf Club on 12/27

Got invited to play with a friend, his father, and a family friend on Monday. It was a no-brainer.

The place we were playing was the St. Mark Golf Club in San Marcos. No, not the executive course; the full-blown par 71 course. I was excited and a little nervous: I’d never played the course before and, well, last time I played, I rolled my ankle and really hurt myself.

I got there very early since there was little traffic on a pre-rainy morning after a holiday. It was cold and the course was going to be wet since it’s been raining a ton in SoCal.

Arriving was surreal. My grandparents lived in this community, which is next to Lake San Marcos. I’d seen several holes before but … well, I didn’t play golf while they lived there. That would have been a lovely way to both practice my hobby and visit with them. As it was, it was bizarre to drive past the street to their house and not go down it. Also bizarre was going into the pro shop.

The other big thing was that I was going to put my Christmas present to good use: I was going to use my new Arccos Caddie and Arccos Caddie Link to track my performance. Nice thing is that it’ll give me 18 screenshots of my performance.

I warmed up putts, full swings, but not really any chips. My irons were okay but my 3 wood was a little crazy. I didn’t even try the driver.

Then, before you know it, we were on the first tee. But here were my goals for the round:

  • Have fun.
  • Get it on the green. Get it on the green at your first opportunity and take the shot that makes that the easiest.
  • Make all putts that are 1.5 yards and shorter.
  • Give yourself a shot a par and convert.
  • You can check your score if you can forget about it after.
  • Give yourself a break. 
  • Commit to the shot. Have it in your mind what you want to have happen.

The only one that requires particular notes would be “Give yourself a break.” It is just: don’t feel back if you screw up. Golf is hard.

Hole 1

Okay these screenshots aren’t the best for reviewing what actually happened.

But hole 1 is a short par 4, so I had planned to go 7 iron off the tee and then 7 iron toward the green, which should have put me on the green if I hit it my standard 150 yards.

However, my first tee shot never goes to plan (apparently). I shanked my 7 iron off the tee, right into a tree about 100 yards from the pin.

So shot 2 was a punch out to the fairway, leaving me about 130 yards from the green. That’s 8 iron attack mode.

Unfortunately, I hit a fairly chunky 8 iron that faded to the right of the sand trap. I needed my 4th shot to carry the bunker at about 20 yards – and I hit it 19.

So I failed at goal #2. I should have given more juice to get it onto the green. Fortunately, I hit a great one out of the bunker with the ball rolling out to about 2 yards. Made that putt for a double-bogey or a net par.

Honestly, I felt really good about this considering the failed tee shot. I think next time, I’ll try to hit my 3 wood off the tee, aiming the left side of the fairway. That should give me a 8 iron to 9 iron to the green. And getting on the green in 2 would be a coup for sure.

Hole 2

This is a longer par 4 that is really open  (much more open than I thought) so I decided to hit 3 wood off the tee. I overswung and topped by 3 wood about 8 yards – still in the fairway. I walked up and hit it again, this time getting the ball to about 124 yards.

I noticed on this hole that, similar to hole 1, balls were not rolling out at all. 

Well, at least I noticed when I was writing this. I didn’t notice it at the time.

The fairways were saturated and so a well-hit 3 wood for me, which would normally roll out, just stopped at 124 yards.

For my third shot, I hit 8 iron, decided that it would give me an 8 iron into the green. I compressed the ball well and ended up about 110 yards from the pin.

I hit an excellent pitching wedge onto the green, and felt really good. I missed long, but I can putt it out. So what if it’s a 36 foot putt?

Unfortunately, I didn’t really pay attention to the green and the ball RAN well past the hole on my downhill putt. I missed my second putt close but not close enough. Then I missed the tap-in and finally finished for a 4-putt 8. 

Hole 3

It’s a longer par 3 so I hit 6 iron off the tee. The 6 iron was exactly what I had hoped for, especially considering it was going uphill. Unfortunately, I hit the spot I was aiming at exactly, which meant that I … was in the bunker in front of the green.

But I felt confident out of the sand so I grabbed my sand wedge and chipped it up – and just into the lip. The ball rolled down – and I chipped it back up … also into the lip.

The third time, I chipped it out, but left myself 10 yards to the hole. Oh, and I was on the fringe. 

So I putted on leaving myself 3 yards to the pin. Then I putted close and finally ended with a 7.

I was certainly thinking par off the tee and even off the second shot. Well, until it stopped in the lip of the bunker.

This is one of those times when Arccos is a bit challenging. Literally all the shots were from the same spot.

Hole 4

This hole doglegs left. I hit my 3 wood off the tee, aiming up the left side, so that when I blocked it out right, it was still in play. Indeed, I had an excellent bounce back into the fairway. It was a 200 yard drive.

At this point, I had no idea how long I was expecting the second shot to go. But the dogleg is protected by this massive tree. I remember aiming toward the right side of the branches on top of the tree and I instead pulled my 8 iron, left, into the tree.

The ball dropped OB but I … I played from OB. It was only a yard into the OB and I paid my dues: my pitching wedge punch shot went into the tree and died. I was about 100 yards from the green and hit a great pitching wedge that ended up bouncing off the green long.

I had 27 yards to the pin and it was really short sided. So I hit an excellent lob wedge just onto the fringe, which trickled down toward the hole. That left me under 2 yards which I made for a double bogey save.

Hole 5

At this point, I was feeling pretty good. Hole 5 looks to be wide open, as hole 6 runs alongside the fairway.

I hit a driver that sliced very far right, actually into the bunker that guards hole 6’s green. But it was in play and sitting nicely in the bunker.

Incidentally, this is the hole that gets this treatment on reddit. I did not see this sign.

I hit my pitching wedge out of the bunker and it was beautiful. 117 yards, over trees, into the fairway, 28 yards from the pin. I hit a decent lob wedge pitch shot to leave me 10 feet to the pin. A 2-putt for bogey which I was happy with, especially since the previous holes had gone terribly from that distance.

In this case, I probably should have hit 8 iron from the sand. I likely could have held the green.

Hole 6

This is a par 3 that is a little downhill. For whatever reason, I wasn’t playing like the course was soaked so I assumed a roll-out on all of my shots. So I hit a 8 iron here since it was about 120 to the front of the green. But I chunked the shot a bit and the ball died in some muck right of the green.

Lifted, cleaned and replaced at the nearest point of relief, which was 20 yards from the pin and about a 12 yard carry. Unfortunately, I chipped it 11 yards, where the ball stopped, and I ended up having to putt from the fringe.

Once again, I was thinking par when I should have been hoping for bogey.

The result was I missed the chip putt long, then missed the second putt (which should have gotten closer than it was). Missed the tap in and finally ended my misery for another triple.

Hole 7 is the first par 5 and it’s a huge dogleg left. I hit a great 6 iron tee shot to 151 yards down the middle of the fairway, leaving me about 250 yards away — but I’d have to cut the corner.

There was a huge eucalyptus tree guarding my approach over the pond that protects that angle. Fortunately, the eucalyptus tree is on the far side of the water, so hitting into the tree wasn’t a bad thing: I’d still be over the water.

So I focused on a gap at the top of the tree and cranked my pitching wedge over the tree. The shot hit that gap perfectly and came to rest 130 yards away.

This left me about 180 to the pin so I hit another 6 iron. My goal wasn’t to hit the green, but give me a chippable option for an up-and-down par.

I did give myself that option but I was some 35 from the pin. I hit a lob wedge that died at 22 yards instead of 23, so it just stopped. Then I tried a bump and run SW shot from the rough which was ill advised: this green was slippery and my bump and run ran off the green.

That meant I had to chip on … again with my putter from like 25 feet away. Fortunately, it was a good chip putt, allowing me to easily save double-bogey.

But always fun to do exactly what you hoped and then completely fail.

Hole 8 is a straightforward dogleg right. Dogleg is at about 210 yards, so I decided that, despite not warming it up at all, I would hit driver.

I hit my first ball low and into a tree, after tapping the ball off the tee with driver. So I gave that ball up for lost and hit a provisional off the tee for 3.

It sliced very far right, into the fairway of hole 9. But I wasn’t too concerned. I was only 150 from the pin. I’d cut the corner!

… only that there were a LOT of trees between me and the pin.

My first pitching wedge shot was a perfect punch shot that … hit a tree and died.

My second punch shot, 50 yards closer to the pin, was also a great punch shot that … hit a tree and died.

My third shot approach shot (lying 6)  was free and clear, under the tree I’d hit, and 45 yards from the green. I hit it short of the pin, into the fairway approaching the green. I finally putted on, then I two-putted for a 9.

I should have stuck with my plan which was: 3 wood off the tee and pitching wedge to the green. Gosh wouldn’t that be idyllic? Oh, I also very easily found my “lost” ball.

What a doofus I am sometimes: yeah my driver off the tee was bad but I could have gone: PW to the corner, PW to the green. Two-putt for a 5.

Hole 9

Learning my lesson from hole 8, I decided to hit 6 iron off the tee, at a tree distant in the fairway. My 6 iron ran through the fairway to some 180 yards out. I decided to hit 8 iron to give me a SW in, which I think was the wrong choice. I should have gone 3 wood to reach the green, I think. Or 6 iron. Anything but sand wedge.

Anyway, 8 iron back into the fairway, about 80 yards from the pin. That’s SW distance but I managed to hit a fade that was pin high but very right. That left me 17 yards from the pin, which I apparently hit very well, to about 5 feet. I promptly missed that bogey putt and made a double for a net par.

So on the front 9, that was a 60, 25 over through 9. Obviously, there was a +5 and two +4’s that accounted for about half of that in 3 holes.

5 of my 10 tee shots were good and, honestly, taking the penalty on hole 8 was one of the stupider things I’ve done recently. I very likely could have had a double for 3 strokes better. Also, not screwing up the tee shots on hole 1, hole 2, and hole 5 would have made a big difference too.

Since my tee shots were bad on half my holes, my approach game was bad. Ideally, I’d have just 11 (1 on 1,5, and 8). I had 16.

Since I didn’t hit any greens, I should have had 9 chip shots. Instead, I had 17. So that was about 2 per hole, but I only had three holes where I had 1 or 0 chips. So that means my chipping cost me … a lot of strokes.

Putting was decent, especially considering the 4-putt on 2. Without that, I woulda had 15 putts which would be excellent. 4 1-putts ain’t bad, especially since I had a double chip on nearly every hole.

Hole 10, after eating something, i resolved to not be dumb. In this case, it meant not hitting the driver again. It’s too unpredictable at this point.

I was also going to not be dumb. Why take a lost ball penalty when you don’t have to?

So that meant it was a 6 iron off the tee on hole 10, despite the wide-open nature of the hole. I managed to have the longest drive with a 152 yard tee shot. Then I had another, excellent 159 yard 6 iron, also in the fairway, leaving me about 120 yards out.

The shot was really downwind, so I hit pitching wedge. Unfortunately, I faded it a bit out of bounds. So I rehit and ended up on the green, 31 feet from the pin.

Then i drained that 31 footer for a bogey. That’s pretty sweet. Woulda been a par!

I also found that ball in the OB. So that’s still no lost balls 🙂

EDIT: i think Arrcos’s scorekeeping (not mine, of course) is off on this hole. I don’t know how I can get a bogey without holing if the ball goes OB. 

Hole 11

A shorter, fairly downhill and downwind Par 3. The pin was at about 140 yards, but I decided to hit 9 iron for a reason that still escapes me. It was slightly downhill?

Anyway, my 9 iron shot was short and all I could think about my chip shot was: don’t be short. Don’t be short.

Naturally, I shorted my lob wedge and … it stuck into the fringe.

I really should have used a sand wedge or a pitching wedge. Then the ball would have been on the green.

As it was, I could putt from the fringe. A good fringe putt set up a tap-in bogey. That’s nice.

Hole 12 is an absurdly hard hole. It’s nearly 600 yards and goes uphill, slightly.

I likely should have hit 3 wood but instead I hit a chunky 6 iron off the tee to 120 yards. Then I hit a poor 6 iron up the hill, 131 yards. Since I had over 350 yards to go, I decided to go with what I knew and hit my 8 iron.

This was a good strike and the ball came to rest 141 yards away. Another blasted 8 iron left me 50 yards out to the green, sitting on 4 strokes.

I wasn’t really expecting par but bogey was in my mind a bit. After all, it’s a 600-yard par 5! So I had 50 yards from the green and hit a full lob wedge … which tends to go about 65 yards. Although it’s a long green, it’s not that long.

My par shot ran long of the green and, frankly, I was terrified by my miss. On a dry day, i would have run out to probably 20 yards long, making my chances of double-bogey non-existent.

But as it was, I was on the fringe and made one of the better chips of the round. A 13 yard bump-and-run pitching wedge that ended 5 feet from the hole.

Made the 5-footer for a double-bogey on a really hard hole.

So far, everything had proceeded according to plan.

Hole 13

Hole 13 is a shorter par 3 and much more downhill than Hole 11. I hit 9 iron again, apparently afraid of going super long and hit the ball perfectly. I hit it exactly at the spot I was aiming for, which was, unfortunately, short of the sand trap guarding the green.

My buddy Justin hit the green and his ball was inline with mine. Unfortunately, I didn’t ask him to mark his ball – and putted it  right into this ball. That killed my putt and left me 30 feet from the pin.

I really felt good about that chip too. Annoyed, I managed to get my lag putt short – and then I missed the short putt and finally got the double-bogey conceded by Justin’s father, who had looked on me with pity.

I really let Justin know about this failure to help me out. Fortunately, he’s a good-natured good friend, and gave me just as good as I gave him. After all, he asked if I wanted him to mark his ball and I said no because I am dumb.

Hole 14 

Hole 14 is the signature hole for the course. A par 4, with a huge drop off. At about 200 yards, a large bunker guards a water hazard that collects any balls 240 yards or shorter.

Not about to be a fool, I hit my 8 iron into the fairway, about 150 yards, well short of the bunker.

I also hit a just for fun 3 wood with the intention of putting it in the water. I ended up about 4 yards short and left of the water, a 220 yard shot. Gosh I wish I’d decided to do that off the tee. Next time, it’ll be a 6 iron (likely into the bunker).

Syked at my good fortune, I chunked my 8 iron from the fairway to the fringe of the bunker.

Dejectedly, I walked up to the absolutely terrible lie on the lip of the bunker. Unfortunately, the ball wasn’t in the bunker, which would have been a better lie.

As it was, I shanked the ball out of the bunker, over the water, leaving me about 50 yards from the hole for shot 4.

Remembering my mistake on hole 12, I decided to pitch with a pitching wedge. I don’t know what it was, but … it was a terrible stroke. It barely got to the fringe of the green.

I was so frustrated at myself. Why? I don’t know. I just had expectations that prudence would pay off and … it wasn’t really paying off. Prudence only has value when it leads to success.

Anyway, I had 12 yards to the pin and consoled myself that at least I could putt it on. Maybe make the lag putt for a double bogey?

I’ve used this conceit before and don’t tend to do it consciously. When I do it consciously, it doesn’t seem to work…

Anyway, I putted it in from off the green for a bogey the hard way. I really need to find a way to consciously not try to make it for these long putts… So that I can make them.

Hole 15 is another par 5, but much shorter than the other par 5s.

I decided to hit 3 wood off the tee and hit a good one: 180 yards, down the right side of the fairway. Naturally, I was aiming to the other side of the fairway, but it was a good result.

At this point, I considered hitting 3 wood, but there was water hazard to the right. So I hit a great 8 iron toward the middle of the fairway.

I then hit a 7 iron from about 150 yards from the green. 7 iron is striking distance for my 7 iron. Unfortunately, I think it was at this point that I began to play John Foulk’s ball. That or he played mine before I could find it.

I was short of the green, apparently drawing it short and left. Yes, I was aware that I’d had a chance to get my first GIR of the round on a par 5. It didn’t happen but I was certainly a puttable ball from the fairway.

Unfortunately, I left my chip a little two long to allow for an up-and-down par. But I was able to two-putt a bogey. That felt good, even though I got ball jacked at some point in the hole.

Hole 16

This is a dog-leg left par 4 that is protected long by a water hazard and trees left of the dogleg and by wide expanses of green grass to the right. I mean, there’s also a creek but you’d have to be a real jerk to hit over there.

After remarking that it’d be great to it a draw on this hole, I went and did exactly that with my 6 iron. Unfortunately, I’d been aiming, expecting a straight to fade shot, so I was in the rough left of the cart path, with trees guarding my approach to the green. I had about 200 yards to the pin but I was going to worry about that when the time came.

I then managed to hit two 7 irons in rapid succession into the trees in front of me. One 7 iron went 66 yards. The other went 94 yards, leaving me with 60 yards to the pin.

With 60 yards to the pin, I hit an absolutely excellent lob wedge to leave myself about 4 feet to the pin. I promptly, promptly, missed that putt and gave myself a double-bogey.

Sigh. But that was a great lob-wedge shot.

Also, hilariously, hitting the tree with my 7 iron really screwed Arcoss up with my 7 iron distances.

Hole 17

Hole 17 is a long par 3, about 170 yards. Still counting on a fade, I aimed at the left side of the green and hit an excellent 6 iron … right into the tree that guards the front left approach to the green.

It was after this shot that my playing partners informed me that the tree guards a small lake. So hitting the tree may have been fortunate – although I think it just prevented me from reaching the green.

I had originally thought they were reacting in awe at my great shot.

Anyway, i was another 56 yards from the pin. I hit lob wedge to 3 yards out. Unfortunately, I 3-putted. Again, I blame Justin: he had played an excellent tee shot short of the green and nearly holed his second shot for birdie. So I tried to the same with my par-putt and … well, it failed miserably. I missed to 7 feet long, and then putted it back to a tap-in distance.


Hole 18 is another par 5. At this point, I had resigned to being over 100 but I was having fun. I was hitting some good shots but seemed to never have everything go right.

This happened according to the law of averages on hole 18. I hit a 3 wood off the tee, aiming at the left side of the fairway because I expected to hit a blocky fade. Instead, I hooked the 3 wood 165 into hole 10’s fairway.

I then hit my 8 iron into a tree but back into the fairway of hole 18, leaving me some 200 yards from the hole. Since I was already well above 100 in my mind, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to hit 3 wood.

In this case, it did hurt because I hit an excellent 3 wood up the left side of the hole – that drew into an impossible landing area.

I was behind and under a tree. Any low approaching shot was going to be going right into the bunker. Of all the times to hit a draw …

Anyway, I ended up hitting my pitching wedge from underneath the tree toward the front of the green. Fortunately, I was short of the bunker. Unfortunately, I had to carry the bunker.

I did that pretty decently, finally getting on the green and leaving me about 8 yards from the hole.

While John Foulk had just putted in from about 50 yards away off the green, I resisted the urge to mimic his success and just lagged my bogey putt for an easy two-putt double bogey.

So that was an ending 50 which is … a net par and exactly what I had hoped for going into the round. Honestly, it was very pleasantly surprising to make a 50 on a course that I’d never played before. That’s the tied for the second-best I’ve ever scored on a championship course.

Tee shots were a lot better on the back 9. 7 of them were decent shots.

I had 17 approach shots, which wasn’t too bad at all, considering I’d expect to have 13 and was likely to have 15 considering my length off the tee.

My chips were significantly better: I had just 8 chips. Considering I hit no greens the entire round, that was pretty fantastic.

Putting was good too: just 15 putts and only 2 3-putts. It’s pretty easy when you have a chip-in, I suppose.

So what changed for the back 9? Well, while I didn’t have a lot of chances to score, I did avoid catastrophic failure. And, while the front 9 could have easily been 10 strokes fewer, the back 9 could have been better, too:

Hole 13 could have been 1 to 2 strokes better, easily; hole 14 could have been a par if I’d not chunked it into the bunker; same for hole 15. Hole 16 could have been a bogey or a par if I’d hit the fairway. Hole 17 could have also been a par or a bogey if I’d putted better. Finally, hole 18 I could have had more success staying in the fairway, i think.

But that’s golf: it’s easy to see what could have gone better.

According to the Arccos Elite app, I lost most of my strokes driving and on the approach.

Driving was where I lost most strokes, followed by approaches. Somehow, my short game was not as atrocious as I expected (apparently I only lost a half stroke to a 20 handicapper there) – but when you lose 9 strokes off the tee and 6 strokes on approach … well, let me finish this tortured sentence by noting that I shot +39. 15 strokes better would be +24, which’d be … a lot better.

So how do we save 10 strokes for next time?

Well, I’ll do my best to avoid a 9 on hole 8 and a 7 on hole 3. Doubles on each of those holes gives me 5 strokes. From that point, getting up-and-down will likely do the rest.

Maybe a bogey on 1, a double on hole 2, and that’s 8 strokes. 

So it’s driving with the 3 wood 6 iron and working on the short game. But isn’t that what it is for everyone?

Best Shots

  1. Bunker shot on hole 1
  2. 8 iron on hole 2
  3. PW from the sand on hole 4
  4. LW pitch on hole 4
  5. PW from the bunker on hole 5
  6. Lag putt on hole 5
  7. Hole 7 tee shot
  8. Hole 7 second shot through the tree
  9. Hole 7 putt chip to close out some atrocious short play
  10. 6 iron off tee on hole 9
  11. SW pitch on hole 9
  12. 6 iron off tee on hole 10
  13. 6 iron from fairway on hole 10
  14. Second PW on hole 10
  15. 10 yard putt on hole 10
  16. Hole 11 recovery chip to within 1 yard
  17. 3rd stroke 8 iron on hole 12
  18. 4th stroke 8 iron on hole 12
  19. PW chip on hole 12
  20. 9 iron on hole 13 was exactly at the spot I aimed it at
  21. Tee shot on hole 14
  22. Chip in on hole 14
  23. Hole 15’s 3 wood
  24. Hole 15 second shot
  25. Hole 15 third shot
  26. Hole 16 tee shot
  27. Hole 16 7 iron contact on second and third shot
  28. Hole 16 LW to green
  29. Hole 17 LW to green

I’m Not 25 Anymore Or: Arrowood on 12/10

On December 10, Qualcomm gave us all a day off. It was much needed from me: I’ve been working a lot supporting various large-scale events and the day off was very welcome.

Tyrone and I met up to play golf, this time by my house at Arrowood, site of my disgrace 6 weeks before. Fortunately, the round I played on 11/22 had really encouraged me both to take things easy and also to feel confident in myself. I’d also been able to practice 19 times in the intervening 18 days. So that felt really good.

It was an early morning tee time and I was able to get to the range ahead of time, putt a bit, and even hit from the sand. Considering last time I played and hit the sand a lot, this felt wise. After all, I’d had no problems putting from off the green last time I played. The issue was really keeping the ball in play.

My goals for the round were incredibly simplified from the last time.

  • Have fun. Remember this is your leisure time so you’re already doing well.
  • Get it on the green in as few shots as possible.
  • Have a chance at par and convert that chance.
  • Pick a landing spot on each shot and aim at that.
  • Make all putts from within 1.5 yards
  • Bogey on 13, 16, 17.
  • Shoot 107 or better

Note, please the lack of things like birdies or “don’t miss any putts.” We’re trying to be positive here. Honestly, I was going to be happy to just be close to 107, too.

The second good thing (what was the first thing?) was Tyrone, who is a pleasure to play with and a pleasure of a person. He also trekked up from San Diego to play Arrowood. As he said when he arrived, “I thought I’d be here pretty quick when I got off the freeway.” No sir, you will not.

We got paired up with a single player, who was really friendly. His name was Parkier and he was a joy to play with.

So things were already looking really up.

Onto hole 1.

I decided that, since my driver was NOT working very well on the range, I was going to be hitting an iron on this tee.

I was terrified of the lateral hazard on the left side, so I aimed very well right, like off the fairway, and hit a 7 iron.

I overswung and shanked the ball into the hazard.

Despite the request of my compatriots to count it as a breakfast ball, my integrity demanded I refuse. So I hit a 7 iron beautifully to the fairway for shot 3.

(Oh, I should mention that I took my 6 iron from my bag. I was rocking driver, 3 wood, and 7 iron on down).

Shot 4 was another 7 iron that, bizarrely, drew. Since I was expecting a block/fade as a miss, this meant that I was in the fairway, but on the opposite side of the fairway than I expected. This was not too bad, but unexpected.

Nicely, both shots had gone about 150 yards each, leaving me with 40 to the pin or so.

I had practiced the 40y SW shot and ended up pitching it onto the green, a little bit long to the center of the green. That left me 7.5 yards downhill to the pin. I missed well, putting to 1 yard and then making the 1 yarder.

That felt good. It woulda been a bogey without that pesky shank.

Hole 2

Hole 2 is a long, downhill Par 5. I think I have kept the ball in bounds … 1 time. For whatever reason, I always hit driver or 3 wood and always regret it.

This time was no different. I hit my driver off the tee and somehow overswung and hooked it right, along the cart path, into the lateral hazard left. On top of a 6-foot tall retaining wall.

My thought process had been that I generally hit the ball pretty straight and I wasn’t going to overswing. It was downhill so even a top would end up in the fairway and roll out.

Back to the retaining wall: I found about 7 nice balls looking for mine, but mine was nowhere to be found. So I tossed a ball into the fairway, gamely refused Tyrone’s offer of help climbing down and jumped. Onto the cart path. Wearing golf shoes with plastic spikes.

I had my club and my sunglasses in my hand. I broke my fall with my sunglasses, felt my ankle slip and crunch, and then hobbled off the path.

My hand was bleeding from about a half inch scrape where I’d removed all the skin. My glasses were completely broken. And I had rolled my right ankle.

I could walk on it and, limping, I gamely hit my 7 iron from the rough about 157 yards to 157 yards from the hole. My drop, by the way, was 138 yards from the tee box. So that’s a fun feeling: hitting a ball longer with an iron than you did with your driver. Why do I hit that club?

Limping up to my ball, I hit an 8 iron that drew. And considering I was aiming at the left side of the green, I ended up in the rough about 32 yards pin high left.

The shot was over a bunker but a pretty easy LW chip onto the green. A 7 yard putt just stopped a couple rolls from the hole and I was in for a 7, a net par. Although I felt like an idiot: injured my leg, broke my sunglasses, cut my hand.

Next time, I’ll get help. Or just climb down the wall.

Hole 3

Short par 3 that played pretty long on Friday. It was about 140, which is 8 iron distance, especially off the tee.

Really favoring my left leg, I chunked it about 110 yards. I was in the fairway, about 30 yards from the pin. I hobbled up to the ball and pitched it onto the green.

Then I had a terrible putt on the green. I had about 7 yards and putted it very far past on a downhill putt. That left me 1.5 yards out, which I promptly missed and then made for a double bogey. Really great start here.

Hole 4 I hit a 7 iron off the tee directly into the grass bunker through the first cut of fairway. Both my playing partners hit the bunker that collects balls sliding out of the fairway to the right. Here they are looking for their balls.

Tyrone and Parkier search for their balls in the bunker.

Then I hit my 8 iron from the grass bunker and crushed a draw. The ball hit the cart path and bounced to end up pin high, left of the hole, some 40 yards away and up a huge hill. I had hit the 8 iron 157 yards because of the bounces.

But the green was downhill from where I was, heading toward a bunker. It was not a good lie: sidehill, downhill, in the rough.

I was exceptionally scared of the ball running away from me so I failed at goal number 2: get it on the green.

I chipped it about halfway and then chipped it just barely on, leaving me 11 yards to the pin. I made the 11 yard put to about a yard, and then tapped in the 1 yarder for a double bogey. 

I was certainly thinking PAR when I nearly reached the green in regulation. That is not a useful thought to have.

Hole 5

Hole 5 has a huge bunker along the left side that I was going to try to be short of with my tee shot. So I hit 8 iron off the tee and hit a very big fade to the right side of the fairway.

So not exactly where I was expecting to end up but in the fairway. I then I aimed my 7 iron at the left side of the green and hit a frozen rope into the rough left of the green, exactly where I was aiming.

That left me 32 yards out, over the bunker to the green. I chose the path of least resistance and went a little long, over the green and into the rough. Now i’ve learned for next time: short and left is the wrong place to miss.

I was certainly thinking PAR with that 3rd shot.

My ball ran out long into the fringe and into the rough. The rough was really grabbing everything, so I hit a chip shot 9 iron out of the rough. It ended up 1 yard from the hole for an easy bogey.

Hole 6 is the easiest hole on the course, a short par 4 with a water feature left. I aimed at the bunker right and faded a 7 iron over it, where it ran down the back of the hill behind the bunker to the fairway fringe.

I was about 85 yards from the pin, which is an uncomfortable distance for me. I decided to hit sand wedge, since a full wedge is about 80 to 90 yards for me.

Unfortunately, I chunked it. I was 100% thinking birdie on this hole and it cost me. A better play would have been a very easy PW shot to the middle of the green instead of pin seeking.

As it was, and likely because I wasn’t putting much weight on my right ankle, I chunked it, about 45 yards.

Then I missed the second shot short, just on the fringe. It was uphill to the green and it was about 15 yards, which is about a 5 yard bump and run with the pitching wedge. I do practice that shot, so it seemed better than putting.
It was better than putting. The ball stopped a few feet from the hole, and made for an easy bogey.

Hole 7 is a mid-length par 4 that seems to eat my lunch. It’s handicap 16, but I tend to average a triple bogey.

It’s all to do with the scrub cutout right of the tee box, which has a magnet for my ball. But mentally, I fixated on the left side of the fairway and dropped my 7 iron there.

That left me about 140 out which is 7 iron distance. Unfortunately, I faded this 7 iron right into a sand trap around the green. If I had aimed at the left side of the green instead of the center!

But I had an excellent sand shot out and I had just 1.5 yards to the pin. Unfortunately, thinking par, I blasted that 1.5 yard putt past the hole completely, leaving me 2 yards out. But having missed the par putt, I had an excellent, easy, 2 yard bogey putt that I made. I mean, I had already gotten the read when I blew past. But I was also thinking, “well, double bogey is okay.”

Hole 8 was a medium-length par 3. The pin was right and front, which was well within my 8 iron range – except that I chunked the ball into the hazard right. My second shot was on the green, which I finished up for a nice, easy par. Well, except that I had chunked the ball into the hazard.

Hole 9 is a long, uphill par 5. I seem to always screw this one up, too. Last time, I had the ball on a laser guide to the lateral hazard. This time, I hit a great 7 iron into the fairway, a great 7 iron up the fairway, and then a thin, stinger up through the fairway into the rough protecting the green.

I had about a 50 yard shot, so I hit my sand wedge a nice easy pitch. The ball was 2 yards from the pin, inside of both Tyrone and Parkier. They both missed their putts. I didn’t.

Par, baby!

That concluded my best ever front 9. I shot a 50, and it could have been a lot lower. Assuming all my mishits were due to my injury distracting me, I certainly could have had 1 shot fewer on 3 (better putting), 4 (better chipping), 6 (better approach), 7 (better putting). And i could have done 4 shots better if I just took mulligans on 1 and 8. So I could see a 42 is what I’m saying.

Tee shots were okay, with 7 of 11 being good. I had 14 approach shots on 9 chances and only 6 chips, which is all the more impressive because I had 2 double chips.

Putting was also okay: 1 3-putt balanced out by 2 1-putts.

Goal number 1 next time is to not hurt myself while playing. Goal 2 is to replicate this performance, to which I will employ my 6 iron and keep the driver in the bag.

Now begins the back 9, on which I’m some how supposed to shoot a 49 in order to break 100.

I started with the best drive I’ve ever hit. I thought: “let’s hit driver, since it’s wide open and even if I top it, it’ll be into the fairway.” 

I crushed the drive. I’m not sure which tee box I hit from, but I hit it nearly 280 yards; the ball was right at the edge of the fairway.

I then hit a very short, 35 yard pitch shot with my sand wedge, which turned my birdie chance from high to very low, since I was on the green in regulation but … 15 yards from the hole.

But I wanted to lag it close and I lagged it just a yard or so from the hole. Easy make for a par. That’s a two par streak!

The next hole was a shorter par 3, uphill but with the pin front right. I hit an 8 iron at the middle of green only for it to fade right and off the green.

I had about 15 yards to go, uphill, over some rough. So I chipped my pitching wedge to 6 inches from the hole – another up and down par.

That’s 3 pars in a row.

Hole 12 is a hard hole. I average an 8.

So this time, I hit a 7 iron well to the middle of the fairway. I then choked up my pitching wedge and chunked it to about 146 out from the green.

I tried to learn from my mistakes and lined up on the left side of the green – and then hit a perfect 7 iron, right into the rough, right where I was aiming.

That left me 50 yards away from the green, pin high, on a severe downhill lie. For whatever reason, I was really concerned with landing my ball right next to the pin instead of aiming to the middle of the green.

I missed it halfway down the hill and then chipped it on. I had a 7 yard putt that I missed really poorly to 1.5 yards. Then I missed the 1.5 yard putt and finally made it … for an 8. Blargh.

Hole 13 is a par 5 that I’ve historically done poorly on. I hit driver off the tee because the tee box was RIGHT there next to the fairway

I topped the driver, into the fairway. Then I topped my 3 wood, also in the fairway. Total, my two tops went about 291 yards total, which isn’t too bad. I mean, it’s not good, either.

I then thought it would be a good idea to lay up since I had about 190 yards and didn’t have a club that could get me there.

So I hit my pitching wedge, chunked it 90 yards, thinking par the whole time.

So I reset after thinking par, and thought “double bogey is great”. Then I hit my full pitching wedge, from 100 yards out. And I hit that full pitching wedge 113 yards, which was over the back pin position into the rough.

I had 14 yards, tried to chip it with my sand wedge, and made it 7 yards. Then I made another 7 yard chip leaving me a not good 4 yards from the pin.

Missed the 4 yard putt, made the second putt, and recorded another 8.

That was depressing.

Hole 14 was a hole similar to Hole 13, but it’s downhill where hole 13 is uphill. But the tee box was RIGHT THERE on the fairway, again, so I hit driver.

Driver went about 210 with a slight draw, leaving me 120 yards from a front pin.

That’s about 9 iron distance, so I swung with the 9 iron and hit a thin fade.

Again, 9 iron was a bad choice, since it put me right on the fringe. An 8 iron would have been better. Middle of the green and all that.

As it was, my ball was just 10 yards from the pin, but going uphill over some rough. It was a sidehill lie and my ball was certainly embedded. I certainly should have availed myself of that rule. As it was, the lie cost me a stroke, since I was just able to move the ball a few yards, further up in the rough.

I hit lob wedge on, to 3 yards out – and then I missed that putt to make a 1 yard putt. I had the idea of “I am trying to make it” and paid the price. A 6.

Onto the Quandary, the hard finishing 4. I didn’t realize it, but despite my back to back 8s, I was on an unknown trajectory: I had 79 strokes through hole 14. This was despite two 8s on the back 9.

Hole 15 is the easiest of the finishing 4 holes: a par 3 that’s well bunkered but not too long. Today was the longest it’s ever been when I’ve played it about 150 yards. So that was a 7 iron, which I blasted through the green to 15 yards away from the hole.

The problem is that it’s a two tier green and I was on the upper tier – well, really I was on the fringe.

So it was a long putt that I had no chance of making. I also really didn’t want to try a chip because of the potential for it to run away from me.

So I putted from the fringe, down the hill, to about 5 yards long – which was pretty good. I putted it to within a yard and then made it for a bogey. So now it’s 83 through 15. I really wish I had known that.

Now starts hole 16, where the best I’ve ever done is a 6. The island green tends to collect lots of balls … in the drink around it.

I hit driver off the tee and that was stupid: this is a hole that demands care. And considering I had matched a record pace, I should have been more conservative.

I blocked my driver out right, where it might be in play, and hit a provisional driver that got over the hazard guarding the fairway. It was clearly in play, but I managed to find my driver shot in a bush on the edge of the hazard.

I had no shot and should have dropped. Instead, I chunked my punch shot about 15 yards, at least into the rough. Honestly, I probably could have done better with my putter onto the cart path.

I then lined up an easy, choked up pitching wedge to stay short of the water – and I chunked that one too. At this point, I was feeling pretty defeated: I expected the water to eat a ball, and my leg was hurting.

I was about 150 yards from the pin, so I hit my 7 iron, figuring I would likely cover the water, even with a fat shot. It was a draw, but it carried the distance and ran off the green into the rough.

I mean, it would have been worse to miss into the water but it was a tough miss. I had a long distance to go, downhill, to get to the pin. So I chipped it with my 9 iron which was a little bit too much club. The ball ran off the green.

This one hurt: I was on the fringe, so I putted it. Somehow, the green was exceptionally quick, even though i was putting uphill, and I putted the ball 4 yards too long – with the ball running over the hole. Ugh.

Instead of a heroic 6, it was an 8, because it took me two more putts to get in the hole from there. Still, a 91 through 16. That means a par and a bogey for a 100 or two double bogeys for a new course record 103.

Now starts hole 17, which has lately been my meltdown hole. This time, I hit a 7 iron off the tee and INTO the fairway. Then I hit another 7 iron down the fairway, leaving me 65 yards from the hole.

Tyrone’s Second Shot

And wouldn’t you know it, I overswung and chunked my lob wedge from a good lie in the fairway to a bad lie in the rough. It was very uphill, I was in pain, and I hit an easy, bad lob wedge to about 3 quarter of the way closer.

Finally, I chopped (pls note spelling) on with my sand wedge, leaving 5 yards. I putted it real close, and then tapped in for a 7.

We had an audience for hole 18 and the hole was set at the silver tees. So I hit driver, and topped it 40 yards into the rough. Then I hit another provisional ball off the tee into the driving range.

Falling apart, I strolled forward and hit my driver at the ball in the rough, which went all of 40 yards, still not in the fairway.

I came to my senses, hit a 7 iron and left myself about 150 yards from the pin. Unfortunately, I chunked this one into the water hazard. I dropped and chunked another into the water hazard. Then I finally hit over the hazard, onto the rough, 30 yards from the pin, behind a bunker.

I had tears in my eyes as I approached this shot. My leg was really hurting, I had completely fallen apart.

It was just an lokay lob wedge shot to get it onto the green, since it left me 25 feet from the pin. (EDIT: it was great. I was on the green). But the putt looked pretty straight – and that’s how I made a 25-foot putt to save a 10. Hooray! I guess…

The pain in my ankle was much worse in the second 9. 

I shot a 58 which was all the more depressing since I had an 83 through hole 15. I could have done so much better. I’ll blame my failure on being hurt.

I had 7 decent tee shots and really only 1 that didn’t play (hole 18). I hit 5 fairways on 8 chances, and started with two pars. I had 18 approach shots, but fully 11 of them were on the last 3 holes. 12 chips, which included 3 straight double chips.

I had 17 putts, with 2 1-putts to offset a 3-putt. 

So it was a depressing 58 on the back 9. But I was hurt, so what else could I expect? Incidentally, after the round, I didn’t notice what I usually do after a full round: my right leg and butt are sore. Nope, that was not the way this time. My ankle was very sore.

But shooting 108, injured, is much better than shooting 120, uninjured.

Best shots were:

  1. 2nd tee shot on hole 1
  2. Approach shot on hole 1
  3. SW pitch on hole 1
  4. Putt 1 on hole 1
  5. Putt 2 on hole 1
  6. 7 iron approach on hole 2
  7. LW on hole 2
  8. 1st putt on hole 2
  9. 2nd putt on hole 2
  10. SW pitch on hole 3
  11. Lucky 8 iron on hole 4
  12. Putt 1 on hole 4
  13. 9 iron chip on hole 5
  14. PW chip on hole 6
  15. Hole 7 tee shot
  16. Hole 7 sand shot
  17. Hole 8 second tee shot
  18. Hole 8 putt 1
  19. Hole 8 putt 2
  20. Hole 9 tee shot
  21. Hole 9 second shot
  22. Hole 9 SW
  23. Hole 9 putt

That’s 23 good shots through 9 holes! That’s excellent!

  1. Driver on hole 10
  2. Approach on hole 10
  3. Putt on hole 10
  4. Chip on hole 11
  5. Tee shot on hole 12
  6. Third shot on hole 12
  7. Driver on hole 14
  8. 7 iron on hole 15
  9. Approach shot on hole 16
  10. Tee shot on hole 17
  11. Second shot on hole 17
  12. 1st putt on hole 17
  13. Third shot 7 iron on 18
  14. SW over the water on 18
  15. LW over the bunker on 18
  16. Putt on hole 18

And that’s grasping at straws on back 9.

Looking back on this, I am exceptionally proud. On a bum ankle, I shot really well. Before I hurt myself, I was +5 (triple bogey, LH shot OB). After hurting my ankle, I was +9 on 7 holes – and then playing bogey golf for 9 holes through hole 11.

I am significantly more encouraged by this than I was at the time, which was 100% because I had really hurt myself. I am all better now but, man, what coulda been…

Arrowood 10/22/21

So I decided to take a day off and play golf. However, because I am foolish, I decided that I also needed to go play golf and get my haircut on the same day. Plus I needed to get my haircut before my tee time so I would be feeling rushed and looking fresh.

Oh, and I was invited to two in-person team meetings at the last minute, causing angst in my plan to take the day off.

But it was Friday morning, I was screaming toward the golf course and made it there with 45 minutes to go before my 1020 am tee time with my friend Jimmy. Jimmy is a scratch golfer and I’ve never played a full course with him.

I was able to warm up putting, chipping, sand play, and at the range. I was unwise at the range, which is typically what happens when I hit off mats. At least this time, I put a towel behind my ball to ensure I wasn’t hitting it fat… at least not that much.

My horrifying round at Emerald Isle the previous week was still on my mind grapes. I was really concerned about putting. Last time I played this course, I hit the ball well off the tee*, but had 42 putts.

* For an acceptable value of well; looking at my stats, that is not what happened.

I had, perhaps, too many goals for the round:

  • Have fun. Remember this is your leisure time so you’re already doing well.
  • Shoot 107 or better
  • Have a chance at Par on a Par 5
  • Get it on the green.
  • Bogey is a good score on 13.
  • Avoid the water on 16.
  • No net double bogies.
  • No three putts
  • If you can, putt. If you can’t putt, chip. If you can’t chip, pitch.

I also had the unwritten goal of not having more than 36 putts. I also managed to pray with Jimmy before the round: that I would break 100 and that James would break 70. I say that with no irony; Jimmy is a Christian and the prayer was also more along the line of “Let’s have fun together doing this thing, but also maybe this result?”

It was a bit tongue-in-cheek.

Also also unwritten rule was that I’d take no practice swings. Just go up there and hit it since practice swings sometimes lead to overswinging and not committing.

Hole 1

I have always butchered hole 1 on this course. I could aim onto hole 10’s fairway and I’d still manage to hit the lateral hazard on hole 1 that runs along the right side (hole 10’s fairway runs left).

This time, I decided to hit 6 iron off the tee to give me some extra distance. Naturally, I top-hooked my 6 iron NOT INTO THE LATERAL HAZARD but rather onto hole 10’s fairway.

The other two folks we were playing with were elderly. James played from the silver tees (honestly, he could have played from the tips) and they joined him. I think one got off the tee successfully and the other had four or five shots to get out of that lateral hazard that always claims my first ball.

But no, my ball was in the fairway … on hole 10.

The shot was about 150 yards, which is okay for a 6 iron, and very good for a low hook. Unfortunately, I was behind some trees and a hill guarding my approach to the green. Looking at the onboard GPS, I saw that I should hit over the tree in front of me to be short of the green.

I hit my pitching wedge absolutely beautifully and found my ball in the fairway, 73 yards from the hole.

That’s an uncomfortable distance for me but the front of the green was about 60 yards away and the back was at 90. So that meant I could hit my LW and even if I skulled it, it’d be on the green.

Naturally, I hit it full, beautiful and about 80 yards. So it was on the green, 7 yards above the hole. Was I thinking par? You bet your ass.

Was I thinking about breaking 80, much less 100. Oh, of course.

But I putted it close, restraining myself, and knocked it in for a bogey, or a net birdie in my book. That was also the best I’ve ever done on that hole.

Hole 2 is a downhill par 5, with trouble left (OB) and right (LH) but it’s pretty wide: 80 yards at the narrowest point.

I learned nothing from my warm up on the range, nor from my previous hand position requirements for the 3 wood (I need to have the clubhead slightly closed so ensure it doesn’t slice at impact).

I had good contact and sliced the 3 wood into the lateral hazard, short of a bunker about 240 yards out.

However, it’s a lateral hazard so the ball gets dropped. Hooray!

I dropped 3, grabbed my 8 iron, and blasted a shot from the rough, with the ball below my feet, 151 yards, into the fairway, leaving me 164 yards out. It even drew a bit. How strange!

Well, if my 8 iron from the rough goes 151, then my 7 iron can go 164, right? And if I miss short,that’s no biggie. And it’d have to go like, 180 to get OB. Or push it right, but … well, that’s my miss.

I made an unwise shot choice: I didn’t have a lot of room to work with in my traditional miss, which is a fade. It’s a straightaway par 5, but I had gone pretty far left with 8 iron shot. 

There wasn’t a safe enough miss with bunkers long and left and LH right. 7 iron would put me squarely in those danger zones.

So the safe shot here was a 9 iron to be well short of the bunkers and OB and then a pitch or chip on.

But I was on shot 4, going for the green, and feeling confident. So hit my 7 iron every bit of 164 and every bit of 28 yards fading right.

The ball hit right of the green, where there is about 10 yards of grass at the widest point. I saw the ball bounce down the right side of the rough and into the red-staked hazard.

I was able to find the ball. But my relief would have been onto the cartpath or behind a bunker so i played from the hardpan next to the hazard. That was a mistake.

I had 28 yards to the pin and 43 yards to the bunker — and promptly skulled my sand wedge into that bunker behind the green. I mean, golf on not grass is hard and all that. My club bounced off the ground. It was what I could from the lie I had.

So that was also a mistake: I should have taken relief into the grass behind the bunker.

Bunker was deep. The ball had to go up about 2 yards and then stop, because otherwise it would roll away down the green.

I hit a great shot than ran out to about 2 yards. I tried to score with a 2 yard putt, missed long to 1.5 yards and then made it for a net double-bogey.

Honestly, I don’t really know how you do better than a 9 when you lose two balls and hit a sand trap. I mean, I think the best I could have done was … a 7 if I’d hit the green instead of the sand trap.

So I was net +1 on the day.

All the par 3s were playing short this day, so hole 3 was a short one.

I decided that, since the hole was uphill but shorter, I’d use a 9 iron instead of a pitching wedge. I should have hit pitching wedge because my 9 iron went straight as a rope and 21 yards long of the green, left into the rough.

So I couldn’t really putt from that position: the ball would have roll over about 10 yards of rough. So it was a downhill chip shot with my SW that needed to go 21 yards to hit the hole and went 14, onto the green.

I had a 7 yard downhill putt that I missed long. Again, I was trying to score. I missed 2 yards long which was unfortunately a tough miss. I left the 2 yard putt out (don’t know what that means) and finally made it for a 3-putted double bogey, net bogey.

Oh no! Have my putting woes returned?

On Hole 4, I hit a thin 6 iron off the tee just through the fairway, into the rough short of the grass bunker, about 145 yards. That left me 212 yards to the pin, which i played conservative: I split the difference, hitting my pitching wedge beautifully about 113 yards, leaving me 100 yards to the pin.

100 yards was another pitching wedge, which I hit well again but 114 yards. The ball ran off the green to about … 18 yards long of the pin. 

This time, I could putt so I did: I missed 3 yards long on a 15 yard putt, which was okay. Missed the 3 yard putt to 4 inches and tapped in for a net par.

One thing I had noticed was that I was following through very well on my long shots. I think that was leading to the crisp iron contact and the extra distance from the range and my mishits. I really hadn’t had any bad contact. I felt really confident.

This lead to hole 5. Hole 5 is a fairly simple par 4 that doglegs around a huge bunker left.

I was feeling confident so I hit my 3 wood. Why I did I do this? Well, it’s because it’s pretty wide open.

Unfortunately, I didn’t aim where i should have aimed: right at that bunker left. I also didn’t close my clubface on address, which lead to a huge slice that ran throught he fairway and into the hazard.

Fortunately, I could find my ball, propped up on a stick in the hazard. I played it from the stick, a punch shot 8 iron that went 114 yards, leaving me about 50 to the pin, but behind the sand trap that defends the front left of the green.

I also made another judgment call here. I was afraid of the bunker so I should have gone around: chipped right or left aroundthe bunker and then putted on.

Instead, I chipped a 20 yard carry about 17 yards, right into the bunker. It was a mirror of the shot on hole 2 and I had a mirror play: my 13 yard sand wedge shot ended up dying on the fringe.

My putt from the fringe for an epic bogey save ended up dying just a few inches short of the hole. Easy tap in for a net bogey, despite a LH location.

Hole 7 has replaced a bunker left with a water hazard. I figured I had about 170 to the water hazard, so I hit 8 iron.

Once again, I flushed it. When I arrived, I had hit it through the fairway, 161 yards. After flexing a whole bunch, I realized I had to carry 50 yards over water. So I selected and hit my PW easy, which hit the exact spot I was aiming for. Unfortunately, it ran a little long, off the green.

However, I was able to have a birdie putt from the fringe, which was really good and ran to 1 yard.

I missed that 1 yard putt and then made a 1-yarder coming back for bogey, or a net par.

That was a tough one to two-putt.

Going into hole 7, I was playing pretty well. I had a few bad shots, but no bad contact. That changed hole 7: I shanked my tee shot 6 iron into the lateral hazard.

I dropped 3 and then hit a really good 9 iron, wth the ball below my feet, that hooked (how?) into the lateral hazard on the other side of the fairway. There was a green patch of super rough in the hazard — guess where i hit it and lost my ball. You got it it.

So I dropped in the rough, and I was about 164 yards from the hole. So i hit my 7 iron — certainly took something off — and ended up 46 yards from the hole.

I hit my SW pitch shot and the ball ran off the green to the fringe long. I had 12.5 yards to get up and down for a net bogey and chipped to a knee-knocking 1.5 yards. But I made the 1.5 yarder for a 7 — a 7 doesn’t feel too bad for hitting 2 hazards and losing 2 balls.

Hole 8 I had my second bad contact for the round: a fairly chunky 9 iron. I don’t think I followed through correctly here, actually, because a chunky 9 iron that goes 100 yards is not that chunky.

True, the ball needed to go 140, apparently, so I don’t know why I was hitting 9 iron here. Should have been an 8 iron or even a 7 iron, since the destination was uphill.

So i had 40 yards to go to the pin and i topped my pitching wedge. At least the chip shot got up the hill, to the fringe.

I had one of the best putts of the round for my 3rd shot: i hit it from 22 yards out to 1 yard out. Then I had a super-breaker for a 1 yard putt and made it for another 5.

That’s another net bogey. 😦

Hole 9 is a beastly par 5 (484 from the golds) but it is uphill. My plan was to hit 7 irons up to the green, since the uphill probably adds about 50 yards. Somehow I managed to bogey this once before, but I have no idea how that happened.

3 wood off the tee woud have been an option, but I lacked confidence. Instead, I hit my 7 iron really well, about 140 yards (but uphill like 20 yards or so) through the fairway.

I was feeling confident and swung out of my shoes at the 7 iron, instead of smooth and full swing. I chunked shot 2 14 yards, still in the rough.

I think hit my 7 iron thin from the fairway, 149 yards. So I was about 130 out, sitting shot 4, and I hit a draw 8 iron toward the one piece of rough grass in the lateral hazard left.

Honestly, this was laughable. The one area in the hazard where I’m guaranteed not to find my ball, I hit it. Except I found my ball but it was completely unplayable in the bush.

Sigh. I don’t know what happened here, other than maybe aiming wrong?

I had 60 yards from fluffy rough and I hit my SW a little long.

As I write about it, I think this hole was the one that really hurt. I struggled, recovered decently, and hozed myself.

I missed my chip to 3.5 yard long. And just when I was resigned to another 9, I managed to make the 3.5 yard putt for a net bogey.

THis was where the front 9 started and where I failed at goal # DON’T CHECK YOUR SCORE. I calculated my score, saw that I was at 57, and deflated.

My best scoring I would make 42 to end the back 9. But that was unlikely.

But never check your score.

My contact on the front 9 was great: I had 4 bad contact strikes of 57 strokes. I lost 5 strokes to penalties and missed 4 putts of under 2 yards — and 2 were 2 yard putts.

So that’s a very conceivable 7 strokes I could have gained by keeping the ball on the course and making the short putts. Imagine how much better I could do by getting lucky!

I also had the issue where my contact was so good that I didn’t know how far the ball was going — of course, this was because i was following through well. I stopped doing that starting hole 8 — I remember not having that feel going forward.

Hole 10, we got delayed a bit by lunch. We had an audience on the tee from the group behind us, and I had talking in my backswing. I should have hit 3 wood here: there was 0 chance of me losing it, but I was chagrined from earlier.

So I topped by 6 iron off the tee, about 85 yards and into the rough. Then I chunked my 7 iron 120 yards into the fairway, leaving me 110 from the pin.

I hit a great pitching wedge that I completely lost in the air and, since the foursome was breathing down our necks, I hit a provisional that … was perfect and on the green.

Then I found my first ball, in the rough of the grass bunker that borders the green. In play, but a tough distance, about 40 yards.

I had a good LW from the rough but it ran out long, leaving me 20 yards away on the green.

I had a great 20 yard putt, with perfect distance control, on the downhill putt; just misread the break and it ran out 3 yards right.

I knew it was a brutal breaker so I putted it close, if short, and then tapped in for a net bogey (triple bogey).

So, the back 9 was not starting well.

Hole 11 is an uphill par 3 that was playing very far up because of the course maintenance. I figured that missing long was fine, so I hit 7 iron and flushed it on a line right at the pin. But it was too much club, about 10 yards long.

I putted it from off the green to leave 1.5 yards on a downhill putt — which I promptly missed long, costing me another par and leaving a knee knocking 1-yarder for bogey. Still a net par though.

Hole 12 is a beast. It is long, level, and there’s a lateral hazard that guards the end of the fairway on the right.

I hit 7 iron off the tee, beautiful contact about 167 yards. Then I hit a great lob wedge to the end of the fairway. My goal was to hit a 9 iron over the LH to the center of the green.

Instead, I overswung and chunked the 9 iron into the rough, just short of the lateral hazard.

Then I chunked my pitching wedge OVER the lateral hazard. I found my ball and pitched onto the green, 7 yards from the pin with my sand wedge. And then I putted it to 1.5 yards and made a short putt for another … 7.

The freaking chunks, dude. That really made my confidence go down.

Hole 13 is a par 5 that, for whatever reason, I consistently screw up. This time, I screwed up in new and different ways.

I hit 3 wood, because I figured there was little downside. I aimed far left, and blocked the ball directly into a bunker 190 yards right of the tee.

This bunker had a tree guarding the left exit to the fairway and a HUGE lip to guard the ball getting out. It was a good lie and I cranked my sand wedge, a perfect strike, about 100 yards. Just one problem: there was another bunker about 100 yards from this one  that I promptly hit.

I hit another great sand wedge from that bunker and, somehow, despite hitting bunkers twice, I had my fourth shot just 80 yards from the green. 

So, par on my mind, I shanked my pitching wedge. The shank was the worst possible miss on this hole and I watched the ball go out into the lateral hazard.

So i dropped where the ball entered the hazard, which left me 40 yards from the hole. I hit a great LW to about 5 yards — and made a 5 yard putt to save a net par.

Feeling confident after some pretty good contact from tough locations, I managed to top the crap out of the next hole:

Topped a 3 wood into the fairway at least. Then I topped a 7 iron, a 6 iron, and then finally hit a sand wedge long of the green.

I had an excellent putt chip to 1.5 yards from that long sand wedge shot — and promptly missed the 1.5 yard putt.

I gave myself the next putt because I was getting frustrated. A net bogey, sure, but I pared this hole last time!

Hole 15 now, starting the hardest stretch of holes on the course, called the Quandary by the marketing folks. This set of holes has kicked my butt

Hole 15 is the easiest. It’s a par 3, slightly elevated, with a two-tier green. The tees were really short, meaning I had a pitching wedge distance.

It was a good swing, a good ball, and the best shot of the group. I left it short for the birdie, but definitely had a shot. Good par and real good confidence builder.

Hole 16 is the hardest hole on the course. I have made a 13 before, and 11, and a 10. Last time, I had a 6 and I actually under-achieved.

I hit 7 iron off the tee from like 425 yards out. Yeah, it’s a long par 4.

7 iron faded right, about 164 yards, into the fairway. The fade was not a good result. I had a long way to the hole and a long way to the water hazard that protects the green.

It was a blind shot and so I topped it into the lateral hazard along the right side of the hole.

I found the ball but it was unplayable. So that’s a drop into the rough. I hit my lob wedge easy and frighteningly long (about 80 yards) and then I had about 100 yards to the pin.

That’s pitching wedge distance, and I hit my pitching wedge fat and about 75 yards, well into the hazard.

I dropped much closer to the hazard, about 25 yards closer so 75 to the pin, and I absolutely clocked it: I clocked it to about 93 yards, 14 yards long. I missed the 14 yard putt very short, then I missed the 4 yard putt remaining long to about 1.5 yards, then I made it. Nothing like a 3-putt for a 10. 

Hole 17 was next and I had no delusions of grandeur and not just because I had just made a 10. No, it was because this hole has eaten my breakfast, lunch, and dinner before. Really, the issue is that it’s an elevated tee shot above scrub: this means I tend to hit it into the scrub.

Which is what I did with my tee shot. Then I reteed it to about 207 from the pin. Then I blasted an 8 iron 160 yards or so, leaving 50 yards to the pin. I hit a lob wedge nice and easy, putting the ball on the green about 4 yards out. Missed it to a foot and tapped it in.

That’s a 7 which would have been a net birdie without the stupid lateral hazard.

Hole 18 is a tough hole that I’ve done well on. Didn’t do that this time: I had planned ot hit my 3 wood off the tee because it’s pretty wide open, but, chagrined by my earlier errors, I hit a 6 iron off the tee.

As I’m writing this, I sensing that perhaps I should be hitting my 8 iron off the tee. It goes the longest distance, i hit it well… why was I not using this?

Anyway, i hit my 6 iron about 145 yards, a top hook again. Then I chunked my way down the fairway, using an 8, then a sand wedge up to the water’s edge.

Then i hit the same shot twice with my pitching wedge and put the ball in the water.

The third time, I got the ball onto the green, 20 yards from the pin. I putted it to within 1.5 yards and then, naturally, missed the 1.5 yard putt. Made the 1 yard putt for a … 11.

So that was pretty rough. I shot 63 on the back 9 which was atrocious. The real bright spot was hole 11 and hole 15: the par 3s where I made a bogey and a par.

As bad as the first 9 holes were, this one was more bad. I had 24 approach shots, 6 penalty strokes, and hit 3 more hazards. Ironically, this just emphasized the importance of keeping the ball on the course.

I also missed quite a few short putts on the back 9, certainly caused by frustration and pressure.

The best shots were:

  1. PW on 1
  2. LW on 1
  3. 8 iron from the rough on 2
  4. SW from the bunker on 2
  5. Tee shot on 3 — even though it went long
  6. Approach shot on 4 — hit my spot perfect
  7. Rescue shot on 5 — hitting a floating ball 110!
  8. Tee shot on 6
  9. Chip putt on 6
  10. Chip putt on 8
  11. Tee shot on 9
  12. 3rd shot on 9
  13. Putt on 9
  14. 20y putt on 10
  15. Tee shot on 11
  16. Putt chip on 11
  17. Sand wedge shot 2 on 13
  18. Sand wedge shot 3 on 13
  19. Putt chip on 14
  20. Hole 15 tee shot
  21. Hole 15 putt
  22. Hole 15 finish
  23. 8 iron on hole 17
  24. LW on hole 17
  25. 22y putt on hole 18

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.

Don’t Separate Immigrant Children From Their Parents

I just wrote this to my congressman:


Dear Mr. Issa,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your time.


John Earnest

How many calories are in one cous cous?

Is it worth it to lick the plate?

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

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

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

So what is the caloric value of one cousi cousi?

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


Target brand cous cous nutritional label

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

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

45 g of cous cous

45 grams of cous cous

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

5g of cous cous

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

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

200 cous cous compared to a dime.

200 cous cous. Smaller than a dime.


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

1,000 cous cous compared with a dime.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it worth it?

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

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

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