Well, the weather was favorable again, this time for Tuesday. That’s the day my pick-up beer “league” plays, and despite the lateness of the season three of us decided to go out for a round of nine after work. We work at the site of a former Air Force base that’s now a “business & technology park,” and the old nine-hole base course is still open under private management. Very convenient given the early setting of the sun, we could get out quickly. None of us thought to grab a scorecard from the club house until it was too late, so I kept score on an unused card from another course that I found stashed in my bag; hence, what yardages I reference will be from my faulty memory.
Hole 1: Fairly easy par 4. Trouble on the left is a row of trees backed by endless underbrush and scrub. If you pull or hook it you pray you didn’t go too far astray else your ball is gone, baby. There’s a bunker along the left edge at roughly 200 yards. On the right is fairly open, though a serious banana ball will find the same junk to get lost in, and there’s a stand of trees on the right just about the 200 yard point to trap the too-vigorous fade. My drive is a beauty, striped down the middle and just under 200 yards long. If I’d sliced it badly I was going to try keeping the driver in the bag and teeing up with my 3 wood for this round, but it earned some cred with that shot. Now about 140 out, I try hybrid but chunk it badly. Now just inside 100, my 8 iron goes wide and long (hit it thin), past the green and under trees to the right. I make a decent 7 iron punch shot and make the green. Fairly routine two-putt and I start with double bogey. Not too bad, I had a couple of bad shots in a row and recovered nicely, and the good drive was a nice start.
Hole 2: Almost a copy of the first hole, except it’s more open on the right and the front right of the green is guarded by a large bunker. I pull my drive hot and fast, and it streaks past the trees and into the crud beyond. We spend a couple of half-hearted minutes looking for it, then I take a drop. The ball is sitting up nicely so I pull out the 3 wood and aim left along the tree line, expecting some fade into the fairway proper. Nope. What I get is another chunky shot that squirts out right but rolls for more yardage than I deserved. At least I’m dead middle of the fairway now. I’m still about 170 out so I keep the 3 wood out; I make good contact and it flies straight, and almost makes it even with the green, though a little left (I was aiming for a fade). My chip on was a bit too strong, and I two-putt for a triple thanks to the lost ball. Ouch.
Hole 3: This is a 185-yard par 3, the only real challenge is the large bunker guarding the right half of the green. You can also find yourself mired among trees if you slice badly. I tee it up with my 3 wood and let fly. Nice! It rolls to a stop just short of the bunker, a little right of the green itself. Small problem, it’s nestled down into some tough, scrub-like stuff so I’m going to have trouble getting under the ball. I try a chip with my SW, face a little open, but the scrub kicks it up and it bounces into a scull over the green. Damn! The lie is better on the other side, regular grass, but I’m now gun-shy and fluff the come-backer so it only makes it halfway. After that great tee shot, I’m lying 3 and not even on the green yet. Argh! My next chip gets it on but I miss my first putt and end up with another triple. Not a good run, no sir.
Hole 4: This one is a lot like hole 2, except the bunker on the right of the green is farther back, almost behind the green. My tee shot is a weak push, barely 100 yards and under a tree in a huge bed of fallen leaves—at least I found it! I can’t take a full backswing with the branches hanging around me, so I use my 3 wood and punch it out into the fairway with some forward progress. Pretty decent return on my effort and now I’m about where a good drive would have taken me. I promptly slice hell out of my next 3 wood shot, well right and on the other side of the tree line though it did fly pretty far. I can only see the right fringe of the green and there are branches hanging all over the place in my way. I try a 7 iron punch shot, catch it wrong and it flies instead. I hear leaves catching at it and lose sight of where it went, but my buddies spot it landing to the right of the bunker. I made it through! A little luck never hurts. Alas, I fluff another chip, so it takes me a fifth shot to make the green, and I two-putt for my third triple in a row. This is getting annoying!
Hole 5: This is a medium par 5, about 450 yards. To the right is fairly open, though the usual tree line is there to trap the bad slicer. On the left from about 180 yards on is a large concrete area, remains of some old military flight line segment. It’s a free lift off the pavement but you don’t want to end up there and have to come back all that way. My tee shot is a nice one! Well over 200 yards and dead middle of the fairway. A real pick-me-up after the grief I’ve been having. I follow it up with a great 3 wood shot that flies nearly as far, landing well within 100 yards of the green (which is guarded by a large bunker in front of the entire right half) and on the left edge of the fairway. I have GIR thoughts in mind as I line up my short iron, so of course I hit it short and right and it drops into the bunker. I play my next shot like a traditional bunker splash, forgetting all the sand is going to be packed and damp. There’s no splash, just bounce, and the ball picks clean and flies well over the back of the green. My return chip is pretty good, but leaves me a long-ish putt for bogey. I drain it! The line just came to me and I hit it perfectly and in it dropped. Yes, finally a score to be pleased about!
Hole 6: The Number 1 handicap hole, a 430-yard par 4. This thing is my nemesis. There’s a tree just to the left that catches your ball if you stray (or aim left for a slice). The right is sort of open but the rough is thick and spotted with trees all over , and they choke in close closer to the green so you can’t get a clear shot at it. A large bunker cuts completely across the fairway about 120-ish from the green so there’s no way you can roll a second approach close: you have to fly it in. Last time I played this course, a few weeks ago, I carded a nine on this hole. Okay, off we go! My tee shot is just okay, maybe 170 yards and sliced more than I’d like, though not enough to get me behind the choke point. I’m sitting up well enough to try 3 wood, and hit it nicely, a bit of a fade around the trees and it rolls up not far from the bunker—a perfect lay up! I hit 8 iron for my approach shot, and clip it nicely, though a hair short and left, almost on the fringe. It’s too clumpy and thick for the Texas Wedge approach, so I take a 9 iron and tap it with a putting stroke, and it bumps-n-runs to inside 3 feet. Nice! I drain the bogey putt easily, and thus have I conquered my nemesis!
Hole 7: A short par 4, maybe 340 yards, but with a dog leg left and the whole left edge is OB. Lots of thick stuff to the right, and some trees dead ahead if your shot goes too long past the turn left. Again I stripe my tee shot. It flew dead straight and easily 250 yards (measured via GPS). One of my best ever, and I was actually afraid I’d put it into the trees beyond. Nope, I find it in perfect position for a wedge onto the green. What do I do? Duff the shot. Sigh. I regroup and put the next one on the green but too far for an easy one-putt. I lag it really close and tap in for bogey. Okay, I’ll take it!
Hole 8: The beer hole for this round. Loser buys the first go-round at the 19th hole. I have a long tradition of being the guy stuck with the tab after these. It’s a par 3 playing at 145 yards this time (the tees are a bit farther back than I’ve seen before, usually plays around 130). I tee up with my 4 iron (a hybrid, really, my irons are Hibore Xli) and let fly. Oh, yes. It flies straight and true, finds the center of the green and tears up a small circle, one hop and stop. To make it sweeter none of the other guys finds the green. I fuss with trying to fix the ball mark (it’s pretty deep) while they take their chips, then I try my hand at a birdie putt for a change. Long, slight downhill, right-to-left break. Alas, I leave it a tiny bit short but on a great line. Tap in for par, my mates both settle for bogeys and I’ll be drinking for free tonight!
Hole 9: Nice finishing hole. Another medium par 5, maybe 470 yards. The tee shot enjoys a very open vista, but your next shot has to navigate a tight choke point: trees on the left and a huge bunker on the right. The green itself has a bunker around the back left edge to trap your approach if you don’t stick it. My tee shot, if anything, is better than the one on number 7. I don’t know what I’m doing, but except for the pull and push shots my driver is doing me well today. I’m feeling pretty confident, and the left-hand trees covering my view of the green are begging to be cleared with a nice 3 wood shot. I go for it, but hit it fat and with a bit of a push. Still, it rolls great, clears the trees and comes to a stop just short of the big right-hand bunker. Another lucky break. I have a good lie, and a clear view of the green, about 110 out. I select 8 iron, clip it quite nicely, and this one lands on the center of the green and only rolls a bit past. GIR! My second birdie opp of the day, another long downhiller with right-to-left break. I give it a great attempt, just miss the hole right and have a gimme for par. Felt great to end on back-to-back pars, let me tell you!
Final score: 50. Those duffed shots loom large in failing to break fifty.
I think my tee shots are a strength, most go pretty straight and if I swing under control the slice is minimal. The pull and push shots were just lack of concentration, methinks, with sloppy swinging. I was also putting very well, in my mind, I didn’t have a single three-putt today and was lagging some tough ones really close. My biggest problem is still chunking shots fat, and that’s where I plan to work starting with my lesson after work today.