Emerald Isle at the Golden Hour

On a Friday, I tried to squeeze in Emerald Isle, after work, with some friends. I had some range warm up (a rarity) and some putting warmup. The range warmup was not particularly good.

Hole 1, I tried to do too much. I decided to hit 8 iron and, instead of learning from my mistakes all the other times I played this hole, I compounded them. See, last time I played, I hit an easy shot that found the front of the green but was 90 feet from the hole, which I four-putted.

This time, I was going for the center of the green with a full swing with my 8 iron. I aimed at the right side of the green and promptly hit the ball perfectly straight, out of bounds about 100 yards away.

I hit another because why not and hit a hook which ran well down the hill. I later found it (like 2 hours later) on the tee box of hole 16.

I decided to avail myself of the rule that allows you to drop in the fairway for 4 – and promptly skulled my lob wedge 60 yards over the green into a bunch of other crap.

This was error number: following a bad shot with a stupid shot.

Much better would have been a pitching wedge or 9 iron runner that’s only going to carry 6 or 7 yards and roll out to 40.

Anyway, for shot 5 I decided to try to hit lob wedge again, only this time I was going to give it some touch and have it .. not do what it did, which was get fluffed to the fringe. At least it made it to the fringe.

That left an easy 17-yard putt from off the green which I got to 10 feet. The 10-footer was a good putt, which meant I was able to escape with a wonderful 8 on hole 1.

I resolved to not let it get to me: everyone can have a blow-up hole.

Hole 2 I decided to hit 6 iron off the tee, going for the green. Only the 6 iron shot really seems to be chunky and short, only like 150 yards. Weird ball flight too.

It was after the round that I realized that I’d hit my 9 iron instead of my 6 iron – so the 150 yard shot was actually very good.

I tried not to feel disappointed since I was in the fairway – but I did. That’s okay, I was 30 yards from the pin. So let’s go LW and – hey why not skull it? It was an absolutely atrocious shot.

Fortunately, this was where I realized what I was doing wrong: I was reverting to a bad habit of not focusing on the ball when swinging.

But again, the ball stayed in play and was on the back of the green, just 20 yards from the pin. It was in the rough but very puttable so I did that. I left myself 4 yards for the par putt and tried to get it close and, naturally, made par.

THINGS ARE LOOKING UP!

Hole 3 I decided to hit 8 iron and hit a great one: 142 yards to the green about 5 yards from the pin.

I didn’t miss very well with the putt but I managed to get within striking distance. I lined up the 4-footer and proceeded like I’ve been practicing: head down through the stroke – and was rewarded by the ball dropping into the cup for my very first par on this hole.

Hole 4 I hit pitching wedge and … I remember something went wrong. My ball drew pretty heavily left but ended up in the sand. Considering it’s OB beyond the sand trap, I was happy to be in the sand … until I saw the ball perched on the edge of the trap, below the ridge of the bunker.

Going for the pin was not an option considering the lie: I’d hit the lip with my club and … not hit the ball. So I aimed very far away from the pin and managed to get the ball out and onto the green.

That left me about 30 or so feet for par but I had a great putt to 2-feet out. And I made the 2-footer.

Hole 5 was playing pretty far up and I hit pitching wedge. I aimed center of the green and had a pretty hefty draw. I was hoping to hit the sand trap after the draw and did not.

Instead, my ball hit the cart path and ran down down down down to 150 yards, some 30 yards long of the green.

I dropped from the cart path into an area that was a decent lie, no nearer to the hole. It was about a 12-yard carry, slightly uphill. I hit it about 11 and a half yards, which meant the ball rolled down the hill, further away.

This next time, I tried a more aggressive flop shot. It hit the tree and rolled back to where I was again.

Then I hit it much harder and the ball at least got onto the plateau, not on the green but at least puttable. I putted it really close from 33 feet out, to about 4 feet. Then I made that 4 footer for a 6.

Nothing like a quadruple chip! In this case, the biggest issue was that I got cute with the second shot: instead of being okay with going long, I tried to finesse the shot. A sand wedge or a pitching wedge to give more rollout would have been a better choice and I’ll do that for my next uphill shot: club up to make sure that the roll gets up the hill, even if I miss short.

Hole 6 is a little shorter, so i decided to hit sand wedge. I was a little chunky, I think, but the ball got just to the fringe.

I thought about the chip a bit, waffling between PW and 9 iron, and hit a pitching wedge and ended up about 10 yards short. So that means that a 9 iron was the right choice. Did the math wrong there.

Hilariously, me and all my buddies hit it all to the same distance from the pin. So we all decided to synchronize our putts from 30 feet out.

I got it to about a foot and easily tapped in for a bogey.

Hole 7 is a short par 4 that I always seem to screw up. This time, I did select 6 iron and hit it oh, you know, 200 yards, into the fairway.

My buddy Kivan hit his 3 wood onto the green so he had a 7 yard eagle putt. I had 30 yards for eagle and hit an excellent pitch shot that nearly, nearly rolled in. It stopped about 4-feet past the hole.

Kivan hit a terrible eagle putt that left his about 5 yards for birdie and three-putted for the par. Which was something he moaned about and I quickly shut it down. Par is a good score.

It helped that I made the 4-footer for a birdie, which is, I think, my first ever recorded birdie on a par 4.

I was pumped when I made it.

Hole 8 is short but a terribly challenging green. I hit the green pretty easily but left myself a 32-footer for birdie.

I was not expecting to make the 32-footer; I was just hoping to get close enough to have a chance since it was a sweeping, downhill putt.

I missed pretty badly, leaving 7-feet back to the hole. But then I lipped out the 7-footer and tapped in for bogey.

Hole 9 is another challenging hole because of the green. I hit my 8 iron into the wind and hit a fade when I was expecting a draw. That meant I nearly hit the players in front of us. As I walked up to apologize, we heard an explosion from the tee box on 10.

The group in front of the group that had just cleared the green were shouting. Their friend Mike had made an ace.

Congratulations Mike.

This should also show how backed up the course was. There was also not really any reason for it: just a few foursomes in front of us that were taking a LONG time.

Anyway, I found my ball on the cart path and dropped on the rough of hole 12. It was extremely down hill, carrying the path, toward a severe downslope that would accelerate the ball all the way down the hill into the water hazard. So I played it perpendicular to the hole which was set on the only flat spot on the green, front left.

I hit a great shot into the rough above the hole which slowed it down as it fell to the green and trickled off the front of the green. However, the ball stopped on a sprinkler in front of the green. So another free relief for a 27 foot putt onto the green, which stopped a foot long of the hole. Easy in for a bogey.

This was  a pretty good front 9. I was +11, but +8 of that was from 2 holes. Net, I was +1.

Reviewing this after the fact, I cannot believe I was disappointed. An actual +3 through 7 holes? That’s really good!

My tee shots were decent. The only one truly atrocious was hole 1; hole 5 was bad but really the problem was caused by chipping.

My approach shots were decent too: both contacted the green and one stayed on.

Chipping was good too, with the exception of hole 5 and hole 1.  I hit 3 greens so I would expect to have 6 chip shots. Instead, I had 12, but 7 of them came on 2 holes. True I had a double chip on 9, but that was a good double-chip.

Putting was good, which was a relief, let me tell you. A 4-yard make and a birdie putt, plus missing no short putts, felt really good after the atrocious play I’ve had recently. 15 putts is really good, exactly what I would hope for.

Onto Hole 10. 

I had a bad tee shot. I chunked it but got it about 100 yards, over the water hazard and onto the cart path. Relief was not much better than the cart path but after Chason chipped his shot into the lip of the bunker, I hit mine a bit harder and skulled the ball over the green and into the rough on the hill above the downhill and downward sloping green.

I hit a very delicate putt along the fringe, aiming perpendicular to the hole about 6 yards or so.

I missed the hole by about a ball length and ended rolling out to about 4 feet, which I made for a bogey. Excellent putting there.

Hole 11 I hit my lob wedge and aimed right of the tee for some reason – or maybe I blocked it out? It was a little short but on the green at least.

I was pretty far away: some 40 feet. But I had a great putt to about a foot away for another par. Woo-hoo!

Hole 12 I hit long again with the ball refusing to stay on the green and just trickling into the fringe. The biggest issue was that I was below the hole on the 2 tier green and had about 16 yards to the hole.

But I made a great chip putt to about 4 feet away from the pin and just flatout missed the putt. I pulled it but at least gave myself an easy putt for bogey.

Hole 13 I chunked my lob wedge off the tee. I had a good second shot that left me about 15 feet to the blind pin – and I ended up putting the ball off the green, just barely, when I missed the downhill putt.

That meant a 3 yard uphill putt which I majorly rushed and a 1 yard follow up for a double-bogey. Nothing good about that hole.

Hole 14 I was rushed because we finally played through on the threesome in front of us. I don’t know what they were doing but the green was clear and they were just standing on the tee box when we walked up. It was bizarre.

I hit a fat 8 iron very short of the sand trap which left me about 15 yards from the green and 14 yards short of the trap.

For whatever reason, instead of taking the safe shot to the middle of the green, i decided to try to finesse my shot over the trap. Yes, I hit it 13 yards. Yes it was in the trap.

Yes I got the ball out but it was not out to particularly close: i had like 30 feet to go. Would have been much better to do that and get a bogey than the alternative.

I had a good putt to 2 feet and made the 2-footer. But not before shaking my fist at my own stupidity.

Hole 15 I got over the chunks and hit my 8 iron just 117 yards, over the green and into the wind (I think Arcoss was starting to have some trouble finding me as the sun went down).

I hit a big draw over the left side of the green leaving me 16 yards out on the fringe.

I had a decent 50 foot putt but it still left me about a 7 footer out, which I missed. In for a bogey.

Nothing particularly good there.

Hole 16 I chunked into the hazard with my pitching wedge. Then i hit my pitching wedge long ono the green, which left me a 39 foot downhill putt to the hole. I put it extremely close for a double-bogey that woulda been a par.

Since the people in front of us were taking ages, we played 15 and 3 again.

I hit a perfectly straight shot on 15, but three-putted (missing a short putt). Then on 3, I hit another great tee shot and two-putted for par.

Not a lot of detailed notes on these holes because Arcoss was extremely useless. I haven’t figured out how to skip back or track replayed holes.

But two pars on 3 was really nice. As was the tee shot on 15.

Back 9 was +10, which was actually net even for me (since 3 is such a challenging hole).

My tee shots were much worse, certainly caused by the glacial pace at which the game proceeded. I had 10 tee shots and only 6 were any good.

I did hit 3 greens, with honorable mentions on 12, 15 the first time and 16 the second tee shot. That meant 6 chips (well, 5 since hole 16 doesn’t count) were required and I had just 8, which wasn’t too shabby, especially considering that a double-chip on 10 was almost required, 13 rolled off the green, and …

I’m putting lipstick on a pig. It’s not going to work.

Putting was also less good on the back 9: I missed 2 short putts and had just 1 one-putt to balance out my three-putt on 15 the second time.

However, given the challenges of golf, it was a good result. Putting was so much better this round which was really, really nice.

It’s hard to decided if hole 7 or the double pars on hole 3 were more exciting. I think it’s the pars on the holes where I’ve never pared them before. That’s a good feeling.

  1. 4-yarder for par on hole 2
  2. Tee shot on 3
  3. Finishing putt on 3
  4. Getting out of the sand in 1 on 4
  5. Lag putt on 4
  6. Chip putt on 5
  7. Synchronized lag putt on 6
  8. Tee shot on 7
  9. Approach on 7
  10. Birdie on 7
  11. Tee shot on 8
  12. Chip on 9 not running into hell
  13. Chip putt on 9 getting very close
  14. Chip putt on 10
  15. Lag putt on 11
  16. Chip putt on 12
  17. Lag putt on 16
  18. Tee shot on 15 (2nd time)
  19. Tee shot on 3 (2nd time)
  20. Lag putt on 3
  21. Putt in on 3

Emerald Isle on 11/22

So I had a rough couple of rounds in October. At Emerald Isle on the 17th, I had a 91 with 47 putts. And then, at Arrowood on the 24th, I had another set back: a +49 round, where I managed to lose 11 balls and hit 5 hazards.

So I went with my eldest daughter to Emerald Isle, the site of my greatest round of all time. We went together, on a Monday morning, because she had the day off school and my younger daughter had preschool.

First we went to the driving range and I warmed up, okay. She also warmed up, as best she could. Then we putted around, waiting for our tee time. She went back to the cart to eat snacks while I finished warming up.

I had goals but they weren’t particularly set in my mind ahead of time:

  • Don’t overswing
  • Have fun
  • Don’t triple bogey
  • Have fun
  • Make a birdie
  • Don’t screw up hole 1

Hole 1 is a par 4 that I always seem to screw up. Double bogey is what I tend to score here. So this time, I decided I would take it easy. Even though it’s 150 yards, i was going to hit pitching wedge off the tee.

Despite the warm up, I shanked the first ball, right into the net. Then my daughter, for whom I’d paid a greens fee, hit the ball nearly as far as I did. She’s six.

But no matter, I was brave and I remember thinking — it could be worse. I mean, at least i was on the fairway — well fairway dirt — and on the right fairway.

So I had about 40 yards out? I’m not sure how far it was but I hit a pretty good pitch shot with my pitching wedge that landed on the green and rolled, just staying on the green. A good lag putt led to an easy tap in for bogey, which was a great result.

Hole 2 is an easy hole: a very, very short par 4 that’d be a par 3 on a normal course. I was tempted to hit 3 wood off the tee, but I decided to be wise and hit 8 iron.

Dear reader, i crushed that 8 iron: I hit it so well that I thought I had, perhaps, hit it into the sand trap that runs along the left side of the green, 165 yards away.

Instead, I found my ball sitting pretty in the fairway, about 25 yards from the hole. I hit a beautiful sand wedge to 1.5 yards out and promptly, PROMPTLY, missed the putt. So that’s a 4 for a par and a very depressing one at that.

I never thought I’d be depressed by par but there you go.

Hole 3 is a beast. My daughter didn’t want to play it and today it was playing short.

I don’t remember what club I hit but I ended up hitting it a little fat and a little short. I cleared the water, got a good bounce on the dirt, and then the ball rolled back down into the grass before the water hazard.

And then the murders began I started chipping poorly: well, I didn’t chip poorly — I chipped stupidly. Instead of getting it on the green, I missed about a yard short and the chip rolled back down the hill. I then got the second chip up but off the green, above the hole.

I had a poor downhill chip putt that left me out quite a bit. I was trying for the bogey putt and completely missed the read.

I then putted back up the hill and missed 1 ball left, and an easy in for a 6. Blergh.

Hole 4 is a short hole that narrows pretty heavily. I hit a pitching wedge and I hit it very very far. I hit it on the green but I was maybe 20 yards from the hole.

I then left the 20 yard putt super duper short. My second putt was also long, making up for the short miss, leaving me 3.5 yards out. But then I made the 11-footer for a bogey.

Hole 5 is another narrowing hole, a little longer, with a trap left. The trap is where i was aiming at and i hit a weak fade with my 9 iron. Fortunately, it stayed in bounds and on the fringe/fairway approaching the hole.

I putted it on from the fringe, but it left me about 7 yards out. I was a little short, but made it in for a bogey.

This hole was also one my daughter wanted to play with me. She had a pretty decent shot off the tee, about 50 yards, and then another shot that got her onto the green that left her 5 yards out, on the green. Unfortunately, she rushed her putts and had a 5 — but that’s a big step for her!

I tried not to comment but I don’t think she knew what she was doing. She certainly didn’t know she could get a real par. (from her scoring, she is the best golfer in the world: only pars and birdies).

Hole 6 is one of my better holes.

Since my shots were going long and the hole was playing short, I hit my sand wedge. It was short of the green and, due to the rough, it was not something i thought I could putt.

I hit a 9 iron chip shot and ended up 5 yards long — so a pitching wedge was probably the right club. I was back and forth between a 9 and a PW and I figured longer was better than shorter. I putted the 5 yarder decently close and then made it for a bogey.

Hole 7 is longer and the only hole where someone could hit a long iron or a wood. I was tempted by my 3 wood but I didn’t want to make a terrible choice. So I hit a 7 iron, okay, around 155 yards. It faded slightly, as my 7 iron does.

I thought i was in the fairway, but I ran right into the rough. It was pretty thick and this is a hole were going long is bad, so I tried an easy chip 7 iron that got stuck in the rough. It did get into the fairway short of the hole, which meant that I could putt it on.

So I putted it onto the green and then two putted into the hole.

Hole 8 is a tough hole: it’s about 100 yards and has no place to miss long or right. The front has a swale in front and a HUGE bunker guarding the left front. Left is the only miss.

I’ve tended to miss left. This time, I choked up a bit, aimed at a bush behind the green and hit a slightly blocky shot (maybe).

It was the best shot i’ve ever hit in my life. You can see the ball mark and where the ball ended up.

Easiest birdie I’ve ever made, too.

Hole 9 is over a water hazard and I hit a 9 iron since it was about 120 yards to the pin. I hit an excellent 9 iron to the green, leaving me about 5 yards out.

An excellent 5 yard putt left me a 1 yard, downhill putt, which I didn’t take my time with. I was disappointed, naturally, that I missed the birdie train. Again — how can I be disappointed with par? Apparently very easily.

What followed was a very frustrating series of events. I missed the 1 yard putt for par, then a 1 yard putt for bogey. Then a 1 foot putt for double and finally made the 1 footer for triple. Well, I picked it up.

So that’s two triple bogeys to accompany a birdie and a par and a whole mess of bogeys. I was 39 (+10) for the front 9, which is a net 0 score for me. That’s tied for my best score ever on the front 9 and could have been significantly better. Oh well.

But I hit 8 good tee shots, hit 1 fairway, and for greens in regulation. I had 21 putts, but 5(!) of them were on hole 9. Reasonably, I could have easily expected to shoot a 36, which would be a much better score than I’ve ever done before.

I remember feeling relaxed — annoyed at a 5-putt — but relaxed. I was able to laugh about it. I think that’s the effect that my daughter has on me on the golf course. I think. 

Hole 10 has been another challenge. It’s a decent length par 3, over water, with a sand trap guarding the green. It also prompts a wait because a hooked shot hits the teebox for hole 11.

I didn’t really wait on Hole 10, and hit a chunky 8 iron that went about 100 yards when it needed to go 125 yards. But it got over the water and was in some … not too good rough. It was also somewhat short of the sand trap, which meant I could get to the green.

Unfortunately, I hit the chip shot a little thig, but it got onto the green and stopped onto the fringe.

But I completely unfocused on the chip putt. It ran out long from about 7 yards to about 10 yards. I really should have hit it a bit softer because I didn’t have a chance to make the chip putt. I should have been happy with a bogey and instead I had a double when I putted my 10 yard putt up and then putted in.

Fortunately, I was playing decently. I managed to turn a bogey opportunity to a double-bogey but that’s not too bad.

Hole 11 is pretty short. I hit my sand wedge pretty thing which was a little scary, since there’s no depth to the hole and anything long is bad to hit.

But I was on the fringe, again about 20 yards from the hole. I putted the ball quite a bit short, then putted the 7 yard putt to 1 yard, and then made it for a bogey.

Here’s one were I think a good chip would have saved me a stroke, possible. 5 yard chip with a pitching wedge would probably get me there. I need to practice that one, i think.

Hole 12 was completely unremarkable. Excellent tee shot to about 115 yards, pin high but a little below the hole. Great lag putt and easy in for a par. That’s what I like to see.

Hole 13 is a short, tough hole. About 100 yards if the pin is in the back and about 75 yards if the pin is the front. I hit sand wedge and was, unfortunately, short. Trust me, I looked for the ball out of the sand trap and could not find it. Then my daughter helpfully said: “Daddy, your ball is in the beach!”

It was a pretty good strike, I thought, but i think I took too much off the swing, since the ball went about 70 yards.

Fortunately, I got out in one stroke, but left myself about 15 yards to the pin. I missed the putt off the green, just barely, putted back on from the fringe to about 6 inches, and in for a double bogey.

Hole 14 I tend to hit out of bounds. It was playing short today, about 125 yards, so out came my 9 iron. Unfortunately, I hit my 9 iron a little blocky, so instead of the center of the green, the ball did it’s best to get out of bounds. However, I had course-managed wisely, hitting a club that could never get out of bounds. Woo hoo!

I had a putt out of the rough, but the ball was resting comfortably on the grass. I think I had finally figured out the 20 yards putt and finally, finally, had a good chip to 1 yard out. Made the up and down for par.

Hole 15 is back over the water. It was playing about 140 yards but I decided to hit 8 iron. A 7 iron was probably a better short, especially since I aimed at the tree left of the green. Since my 7 iron fades, it would have been in the center of the green.

Instead, I drew my 8 iron slightly, right into the tree.

I knew it hit the tree because I heard it, but the tree was a decent miss. After all, the hole was playing rear and left, right next to the tree.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my ball.

I was going to avail myself of the water hazard (and sadly commit to losing a ball), when I spotted my ball in the rough, very short of the green. I think the 8 iron caromed off the tree into the rough.

So i hit a not very good pitching wedge chip to the green. I say it was not very good because while it got to the green, it went about half the distance I was expecting.

However, I had a good lag putt to leave me an easy bogey.

Hole 16 is my daughter’s favorite hole, because it has some steep teeboxes with retaining walls. She loves to jump from the retaining wall onto the white tees, flapping her arms like a bird’s wings. While we were waiting, she got to flap her wings quite a bit.

I hit an excellent 9 iron to the green, maybe 15 feet from the hole. I had a good lag putt to leave a 1 yard putt, which I promptly missed 😐 I just didn’t have the feeling I was going to make it. I should have waved off the putt and taken my time, I think.

Hole 17 is a short hole but has the potential to be beastly.

I hit my sand wedge and faded it into the trees that protect the driving range. The ball landed short into the rough and it was not a good roll for my putter.

I hit a bad chip shot, leaving me tons of green. As was my theme, I had a good lag putt, then missed the easy 1-yarder, then made it. Another 3 putt 😦

Finally, hole 18. I had lost all hope of breaking my record due to my atrocious putting, but I still wanted to finish strong. And I did, with an excellent SW to the green, and excellent lag putt, and a tap in par.

Overall, I shot +9 on the back 9, with three doubles, three bogeys, and three pars for another net even par. I hit 3 greens, which meant I actually hit the most greens I’d ever hit in a round with 7. If I had been able to make short putts, I would have cut three shots. So that’d be a 35 putt round.

But overally, I was really pleased with my full swings: on the back 9 I didn’t have any terrible full swings.

+19 is one of my better rounds, especially so because I didn’t lose a ball on a course where it’s easy to lose one. I had several chances at birdie and managed to convert one. And even the 5-putt hole 9 didn’t sting too much, even at the time.

Best shots were pretty numerous too:

  1. Pitch on hole 1 – great way to reset
  2. Lag putt on hole 1
  3. Tee shot on hole 2
  4. SW pitch on hole 2
  5. First putt on hole 3
  6. Tee shot on hole 4
  7. Bogey save on hole 4
  8. 7 iron off the tee on hole 7
  9. Tee shot on hole 8
  10. Putt on hole 8
  11. Tee shot on hole 9
  12. Lag putt on hole 9
  13. Tee shot on hole 12
  14. Lag putt on hole 12
  15. Putt chip on hole 13
  16. Putt chip on hole 14
  17. Lag putt on hole 15
  18. Tee shot on hole 16
  19. Lag putt on hole 16
  20. Tee shot on hole 18
  21. Lag putt on hole 18

So that’s 21 really good shots, which compares favorably with arrowood. The real issue is that my misses at EI were significantly better than at Arrowood. When I missed, I missed close enough that I was in a decent position to not explode.

But I think that’s because EI is an easier course than Arrowood.

Emerald Isle on June 11, 2021

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

Youngest daughter being savvy and coy.

Daughter 2 riding in the cart and covering her face.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, my plan for this round was:

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

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

Oh and my mantra per hole was:

Check your grip and commit to the shot.

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

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

Hole 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Double bogey on hole 1. Oh baby.

Hole 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hole 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hole 4

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

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

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

Hole 5

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

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

Hole 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hole 7

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

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

Have I mentioned out of bounds enough?

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

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

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

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

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

Counting up the strokes thats:

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

A double bogey.

Hole 8 

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

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

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

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

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

Hole 9

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

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

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

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

A three-putt bogey. But I’ll take it.

Front 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hole 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hole 11

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

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

Hole 12

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

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

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

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

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

Hole 13

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

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

Hole 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hole 15

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

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

Hole 16

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

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

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

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

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

Hole 17

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hole 18

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

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

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

Back 9

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

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

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

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

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

My goal before the round: how’d I do?

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

The other stats:

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

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

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

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

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

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