Tag Archives: DCIs

FIRST ROUND OF THE FUTURE

Editor’s Note: This is my third post from last season (2011). I’ll be posting some fresh rounds from 2o12 soon…

Whiskey Creek
May 21, 2011

They arrived in my office five days ago.

I had been waiting anxiously for nine days since the fitting took place. I was even practicing my reaction to their arrival like I had been nominated for an Academy Award. Do I shake the delivery man’s hand? Should I film him taking them off the truck? If they arrive while I’m at my desk and one of my coworkers kindly drops them off for me, should I be wearing glasses so that I can whip them off dramatically? Which one should I unwrap first to show to my colleagues? Will they care? (Nope.) This is what I spent my time thinking about and preparing for while at work all day every day.

Instead, I returned from a lame late morning meeting downtown to find a box unceremoniously leaning against the wall in my office across from my desk, as if the contents were as exciting as the disposable razors I get from Amazon every two months. Unbelievably this was the one situation for which I was ill prepared. I have no idea why I assumed I’d be present when the moment arrived. But I wasn’t, and, well, it was supposed to be more dramatic than this dammit!

Can you guess which of these things is new?

 

I stood there stunned, staring at the box. Say something. Go talk to them. I closed my office door behind me – possibly mid conversation with a coworker, I can’t remember. I very carefully pulled the box away from the wall and placed it on the floor. After some frantic searching for something sharp to tear through the multiple layers of packaging tape (normally I’d be frustrated, but I grinned in appreciation that Titleist cared as much for my new clubs as I did) I unsealed the edges and slowly opened the top. One white sheet of paper covered the contents from end to end and separated the top four clubs from the bottom four. Each head was shrink-wrapped in plastic and covered in bubble wrap. The smell of the rubber grips was intoxicating. In a good way.

Too bad Titleist doesn’t also throw a small chunk of dry ice into the box to give off a Raiders of the Lost Ark feel. Right before their faces melt off and their heads explode, of course.

You can keep your eyes open, Marion.

 

I take out the 8 iron, remove the bubble wrap, and carefully peel away the thin layer of protective plastic around the club head. It is the most beautiful 8 iron these eyes have ever seen, without a single scratch or scuff mark visible, and it looks like it may have been buffed before packaging! The grip feels impossibly dry, not yet spoiled by the oils of a golfer’s hands during a typical day at the course. The only thing I can think of is that it feels like a fresh stick of gum right out of the wrapper. I give the whole club a once-over, take my stance in the small area next to my desk, tuck my necktie into my shirt after it interferes with my grip, and take one slow practice swing without knocking any pictures off the wall.

Man, does this club feel…right.

But I’m at work, so back in the box it goes. I immediately email Mike and BJ to tell them the New Era has arrived and that we must make a tee time for the weekend. Whiskey Creek at 10:36am it is. It’s going to be a long 93 hours, 52 minutes, and 17 seconds……..

Although Whiskey is a haul for us and we often don’t get out there with time to spare before teeing off, BJ and Mike are good guys and thus are more than happy to get up a little earlier on a Saturday morning so that I can have some quality time at the range with my new babies. I’m getting choked up just thinking about what top men they are. Top. Men.

The range is on the far side of the clubhouse from where you check in, next to the ninth hole and above the tenth tee. We make our way over there, after acquiring our carts, and park near the row of tee markers on the other side of the wide cart path. The path is a good five feet below the tees, and most golfers grab only a handful of clubs to take across the cart path and up the embankment. I grab my PW, 8, 6, 4, and 3 and head up to the tee. Directly behind each range slot sits a metal rack on which to lean your clubs. I place each club down like it’s made of ceramic and can see, out of the corner of my eye, BJ and Mike watching me do this with amusement.

I do some stretching, and then remember that I’ll need my sand wedge to start off my warm ups. As I start down the hill toward the cart, I hear the faint sound of metal scraping against metal behind me. I turn around to see all five of my brand new clubs sliding off the right side of the rack. In the same way that one out of every three Miami Vice episodes ended with Crockett running after someone in slow motion shouting “NO!” I lunged toward my clubs and only managed to get out a “WHAnaahhhhh!” Not only did the clubs fall off the rack and into the grass, but the rack itself fell over and landed on top of them.

No damage was caused by the defective rack, but the frozen reactions of my two friends a few feet away were priceless. BJ was in mid-swing with a wide-eyed look of horror, whereas Mike made the half-assed but much appreciated “I will make a few token steps toward the clubs to show that I care but I really have no chance of getting there in time” move. I force out a laugh, quietly pick up my clubs and the rack, and go on preparing for my First Round of the Future.

Trying to lower my expectations right out of the gate I focus on simply getting a good feel for the new clubs. Not only is the weight different, but the grips are new for me as well. For at least 10 years my DCIs had cord grips, or ones with thin threads of rope running throughout the rubber. They were great for traction – and ripping gloves to shreds – but this time around I went with some classic no frills grips.

Even the grips deserve a close-up.

 

After hitting no more than twenty balls, I decide that it’s time to get this party started.

The tee shot on the first hole at Whiskey Creek is uphill to a wide open fairway before it doglegs right around two big bunkers and a hazard all along the lower right. The bunkers can easily be flown, but as the hole is only 381 yards, it comes down to how much of a risk you want to take on your first shot of the day. Not much if you ask me, so I aim for the first large bunker on the upper left side of the hole and find the middle of the fairway with my trusty Diablo. Mike follows suit, while BJ shows us both up by selecting a 3 iron AND flying it over the bunker into the fairway. I guess that’s how we’re going to play it today.

I walk off my ball to 136 yards from the pin in the middle left portion of the green. There is a large bunker on the left about 15 yards short of the green, and its placement throws off your depth perception enough to make you think the green is closer. I grab my 9 iron and take a few practice swings. A goofy smile creeps onto my face in anticipation of hitting my first official shot with the Titleist CB 710s. One more glance at the pin, one more waggle, one tiny forward press, and the swing begins. Perfect contact is made and the ball is airborne. Four seconds later the ball is bouncing on the green and rolling to within 20 feet of the cup.

Damn. That was awesome.

All three of us find the green and two-putt for pars. We have come to play today.

No. 2 is a great hole, even shorter than the opener at 363 yards, but all uphill to a narrow and severely back-to-front sloped green. The fairway runs off the hill from right-to-left and into two big bunkers near the landing area. My drive safely hits the middle of the fairway where I’m left with another 135-ish approach shot. I judge it to be one extra club and hit the 8 iron, but I catch too much turf and the ball lands short and right of the green in the thick rough. A chip, two putts, and a dumb bogey.

Now the one thing I assumed, whether it was warranted or not, is that with a brand new set of clubs I would instantly hit every iron farther and straighter. This is a given, right? Well, the key word there is instantly, and I should have known better before choosing a 6 iron on the tee of the 169-yard par 3. Overconfidence this early in the round is silly but that is my reason for aiming directly at the pin on the back right corner, behind a bunker, and at least another 10 yards past the posted yardage. Last week I would have hit a 4 iron, but today with my “magic clubs” I will hit a 6. (It might also have something to do with BJ going before me and hitting an 8!)

My ball landed so short that it didn’t even smell the bunker. In fact it kicked hard left into a giant collection area on the left front side of the green. Terrible. And then I three-putt for a double-bogey five.

This is quickly followed by another three-putt on the long par 5 fourth and a routine par on No. 5. And before I can get too worried about my new investment, I stick a perfect PW from the far left side of the fairway to 7 feet on the par 4 sixth hole. I drop the putt for birdie, and walk to the next tee with a 1-up lead on Mike and only a 1-hole deficit to BJ in our respective matches.

No. 7 is a 134-yard par 3 with a heart-shaped green guarded in the front by two bunkers, the left one being very large and welcoming. The pin is way up front today in the little neck of the green, and we all judge the distance to be 120 at the most. Though this is the tiniest part of the green with little room for error on either side, I’m salivating at the prospect of hunting down another flag with my dialed-in PW. Sure enough I hit one right at the pin, but it ends up skidding up the slope about 15 feet. Not great, but I’ll have another run at birdie. Mike hits a nearly identical PW to just inside my ball, and BJ flies the green with his. He hasn’t quite mastered the ¾ swing this early in the season.

My birdie putt is downhill all the way, perhaps as much as a foot, and breaks slightly left. I barely tap it and watch as it barely gets half way home. I shake it off by making some comment to Mike about not wanting to give him a read, and throw a mark behind my ball. Wow, was that bad. Mike’s attempt is not much better as he misses long and left, but he taps in for par and gets out of my way. After some self doubt, and the sudden realization that the group behind us is waiting on the tee, I aim for the back of the cup and drill it home for par.

Still 1-up on Mike, and now even with BJ after his bogey.

The eighth hole is another relatively short par 4 at 359 yards. It has a generous fairway to hit off the tee to the right, but there is a giant bunker on the left near the landing area that creates a dogleg left feel, and OB all along the left side that you can’t help but notice as you address your ball. Driver is not absolutely necessary here and you can aim as far right as you wish, but a hill on the right side of the hole takes away a clear view of the green and hides the large bunker guarding its front side. Oh yes, and the green is narrow and long shots will find another bunker off the back. Good times.

I start by missing my first fairway of the day to the right and into the trees. I hit a great punch shot around the base of a tree, but find the front edge of the greenside bunker. It takes me two to get out and two to get home. Double-bogey 6. Mike makes a routine and underrated par and BJ makes a 7, taking one more shot than me to get out of the same bunker.

It took us quite some time to rake that sucker after five total shots.

Mike and I par No. 9 to tie with 41s. BJ did not have the best of front nines – his two triples sealed the deal – and he finishes with a 47. I’m very pleased with how I’m hitting the new CBs, so pleased in fact that I’m rather upset with my 5-over 41. Two bogies and a birdie were ruined by doubles on Nos. 3 and 8. Unacceptable.

This is a rather poorly framed shot of the par 5 ninth.

 

The back nine begins with a great up-and-down to save par on No. 10 and a pretty 6 iron to the middle of the green on the par 3 eleventh that leads to a two-putt par. No. 12 is a par 4, 413 yards in length, and is cut into three parts. The tee shot must carry a deep ravine to a wide open fairway, which covers the top of a rolling hill. Missing the fairway right will only hurt the yardage on your second shot, whereas missing left will likely kick hard off the hill and into the well-manicured yard of a very nice home. From there the fairway heads down and to the left into another ravine, across from which lies the narrow, two-tiered green cut into the side of the next hill and guarded by two front bunkers. Sometimes I feel relieved leaving this hole with a bogey.

Like today.

The next hole is also a par 4, a dogleg right, and steadily uphill the whole way. There is a strong right-to-left tilt to the hole when you look at it from the tee, with one fairway bunker near the landing area on the left and lots of tall weeds on the right. For some reason I never line up correctly on this hole and I hit a line drive into the wasteland on the right. BJ’s eagle eyes help me locate the ball, and all I can do is hack it out with an 8 iron to the middle of the fairway. With 142 yards left, and my 8 iron still out of the bag, I hit one of the prettiest iron shots in years to 5 feet from the pin on the back left corner.

This nice par save puts me 2-up on the back in both my matches. And I don’t intend to give them back.

I think the par 4 fourteenth hole at Whiskey is my favorite. No matter how well you think you’re playing, you still approach this tee shot with fear. The fairway is far below the tee boxes and runs between a pond on the left and a tiny strip of rough on the right that is covered in pine trees. There is no bailout off this tee, unless you push it wildly into the sixteenth fairway. The hole is dead straight and ends with a green that juts out ever so slightly over the edge of the water on the left.

Despite missing the fairway on the previous hole, I’m feeling confident in the Diablo. I aim toward the right edge of the fairway, take a deliberately slow backswing, and connect on a solid drive that starts out toward the right cart path and draws back into the middle of the fairway. Take that, Mike.

Oh he does, and hits an even prettier drive a few steps left of my ball and maybe 5 yards farther. Maybe. BJ also hits the fairway…on the sixteenth hole. Once he makes a stellar recovery shot back onto our hole – while under fire from the group playing the par 5 – it is my turn to put the pressure on Mike. The pin is on the left portion of the wide green that is split by a ridge down the middle. It is not necessary to carry the water to reach the flagstick, but water is certainly close enough to cause problems with an errant shot. The yardage is 147. I decide not to flirt with the pond and instead aim at the small trap on the back edge. The 8 iron is once again called upon to get the job done and it doesn’t disappoint. A perfectly struck ball never leaves my line to that trap and bounces up onto the middle of the green, leaving me with no more than 20 feet for birdie.

No buyer’s remorse with these babies. At least not with my 8.

Mike wastes no time stepping up to his ball (the man epitomizes “ready golf”), also choosing an 8 iron, and also sticking his approach shot in the middle of the green. Hot with a little more draw than mine, his ball rolls to within 8 feet. Mike sinks this uphill putt for birdie after my two-putt par, and the match is now officially a barnburner.

The fifteenth is a par 3 and, at 191 yards, it is long enough to have a fairway that wraps around the left edge of a pond. The green runs diagonally from left to right away from the tee and is guarded by three bunkers – one long, and two wedged between the green and the water. You can miss the green to the right but it has to be pretty long to avoid wetness. Mike quickly discovers this when he pushes his tee shot way right and into the tall grass, clearing the pond by about 18 inches.

The tees are up today and the pin is smack dab in the middle of the green. Trying to erase the vision of someone hitting a push, I favor the left side of the green, the meaty part, and hit a dead straight 5 iron to about 25 feet. This sets up a perfectly acceptable two-putt par, as Mike is forced to take an unplayable and a bogey.

Back to 2-up on Mike. And after his textbook par, I’m dormie on BJ.

No. 16 is the first par 5 on the back nine, and rifle straight. The entire hole has a left-to-right tilt to it, as the final 150 yards or so head straight uphill to an isolated green, with three deep bunkers bridging the gap between the end of the fairway and the putting surface. There are fairway bunkers on either side of the landing area, and a pair of big-arse, overhanging trees on the left about 90 yards apart. My drive misses the fairway right, Mike’s misses left, and BJ’s splits the difference by bounding up the middle of the short stuff.

For the first time all day – indeed ever – I pull out the hybrid. When hybrids were all the rage just a few years ago I rolled my eyes at the Next Big Thing. “I don’t even bother with long irons anymore.” “They’re amazing.” “I can hit it out of five feet of rough.” “Hybrids have given me a new lease on life.” Spare me. “They’re probably illegal.” Yup, they probably are.

Two weeks ago when I visited my former boss and high school golf coach to get fitted for new clubs, the very first thing he tried to sell me on was hybrids. I hadn’t seen him in 10 years and he immediately questioned my sanity.

“Hey, John. Great to see you.”

“You too. So you want to get fitted for new irons.”

“I do, yes.”

“Are you thinking pitching wedge through 5 iron?”

“Uh no, I’d like a full set. Pitching wedge through 3.”

“Well how many hybrids do you want?”

“Zero.”

“So let me get this straight: nearly every touring pro has at least one hybrid in the bag, most have several, but you know better than those who make a living playing the game. You don’t want to play your very best. Is that what you’re telling me?”

“Ah, just like the old days, coach.”

I held firm on getting my full set of irons. I don’t care how much the game has changed. I like the challenge of hitting a long iron, and the satisfaction I receive when one is struck well is something I am unwilling to give up. If that makes me the John Cleese character from the old Titleist NXT commercials, so be it. That’s golf. But I did allow him to talk me into replacing my 5 wood with an equivalent hybrid. I reasoned that if I didn’t like the hybrid, I could easily trade it in for a more traditional 5 wood. That’s a little less commitment to something I don’t yet trust than mixing and mashing a set of irons in a way that would probably be a nightmare to complete later on.

So…finally, reluctantly, I stand over a shot in the rough with my brand new Titleist 910H, fully prepared to be disappointed. I waggle a few times, carefully rest the club behind the ball, and swing away. The club head slices right through the tall grass like a blowtorch through butter, and the ball pops off the face with one of the prettiest sounds I have ever heard. With little-to-no effort my ball is rocketing down the middle of the fairway as I stand there like Hogan at Merion.

Holy ****.

I look over at BJ and Mike. Both have looks that say, “Welcome to the party, pal.” The ball comes to rest near the end of the fairway halfway up the hill, which is likely 215 yards away. That is quite a knock for the amount of effort exerted on that swing. Hmm.

Enlarged to show texture.

 

BJ was still walking off his ball – more than 40 yards past mine and Mike’s – and I offered to let him hit the magic club. He declined at first but then realized that his clubs were all the way down the hill where he left his cart. So he said okay, and moments later launched his ball well past the edge of the fairway to only a few feet short of the green. “Wow,” he said.

“Wow.”

With 55 yards left to the back right pin placement, there is no reason not to get this close. Except for the elevation change and a flagstick that is not visible from my location. So a good guess on how hard to swing helps me set up a four-foot birdie putt, which I drop in the heart of the cup.

I may keep the hybrid for now.

The birdie four ends both of my matches as BJ’s incredible second shot is followed by his first “two chip” of the season, and Mike’s errant tee shot leads to a dismal double-bogey. With both matches in hand, I stupidly bogey Nos. 17 and 18 to finish with a 79.

For the first time in 15 years my bag did not have a set of DCIs poking out of the top, and whether it was beginner’s luck or the sign of things to come, I managed to break 80. And honestly I think I could have played even better. That’s not a bad way to break in a new set of sticks. This summer is going to be awesome.

Oddly enough, it was the oldest club in my bag that made the biggest impact. I had 18 putts on the front and 13 on the back. And THAT is why the Ping Anser 3 will never – repeat, never – be replaced.

Key stats:

  • 10 out of 14 fairways
  • 9 greens
  • 31 putts (13 on the back)
  • Handicap Index remains at 5.4

 

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1757 GOLF CLUB

Editor’s Note: This is my second post from last season (2011). Rounds from 2012 are currently piling up and will be posted in the coming days and weeks. Enjoy.

1757 Golf Club
April 30, 2011

I decided during the offseason that I would purchase a new set of irons in 2011. This is a bigger deal than you might think.

The last time I made any significant investment in golf equipment was March 1995 when I was fitted for the most technologically advanced set of irons available: Titleist DCIs (black diamonds, baby). I purchased a Vokey sand wedge in 2008 after losing my beloved Ram Accu-bar somewhere between here and North Carolina, and acquired from a very generous friend who took pity on me a Diablo Edge driver in 2010. Before these absolutely necessary updates, the newest club in my bag was a Big Bertha Steelhead driver. From 1999.

But it gets worse. My 3 and 5 woods are MacGregor Nicklaus DXs, with heads that are only slightly larger than the shafts holding them. So old, they are in fact hand-me-downs from my brother who unwrapped them Christmas morning 1987. Throw in a Ping Anser 3 putter from high school (new grip though) and a…uh…ladies’ sand wedge, won in a neighborhood scramble in 1993 that I only use in greenside bunkers (I swear), and you’re looking at the weapons I use to attack Greater-DC-area golf courses.

I wish there were numerous good reasons for the sad state of my golf bag – also a late-90s purchase – but it really comes down to stubbornness. I don’t need your newfangled, illegal technology to play good golf, darnit. I can beat you with wooden sticks if I have to. I consider myself a more traditional golfer playing with more “reasonable” technology. A driver that can’t be twisted with a special wrench if I want to fade the ball that day. A putter that doesn’t have inserts or grooves to accommodate different grasses on greens. A 3 iron!

These are the zingers I throw back at people who question my sticks, all while I reach into that old bag and pull out a brand new sleeve of Titleist Pro V1s. Kinda hard to take the high road when I continue to shell out an exorbitant amount of money on the one piece of golf equipment that has had the largest impact on changing the game: the ball. Also, for the longest time, I was able to back up my stubbornness by beating most friends and other golfers with last century’s technology. That’s not the case anymore and I’d rather win a match than an argument, so my official club fitting is set for May 7th. Until then, my DCIs still have the honor.

BJ and I have a 1:04pm tee time at 1757, a solid new course wedged between Dulles Airport and any number of nondescript warehouse/office buildings that make up 80 percent of Sterling. Despite being aesthetically-challenged and landlocked, the course makes the most of the space it is given. A fun mix of short par 4s, bodies of water that seemingly come out of nowhere, and impressively maintained greens, helps you to forget the endless parade of planes flying a few feet above your head to the dual runways on the other side of the trees. Almost. (I exaggerate; Dulles is a good three miles away. Indulge me.)

Showing up at the course as a twosome on a Saturday presents all the same challenges and expectations as when you show up as a threesome. Except for the hope. Unless you’re teeing off at 5:00pm, or it’s November, you can rest assured you will be playing with another twosome. This of course is perfectly fine and reasonable as I have met and played with some fine people over the years. However, the last time BJ and I played here we were paired with two gentlemen who tried repeatedly to hit my clearly marked ball, and finally succeeded on No. 8. This is the sort of thing one can expect when he hits his ball into an adjacent fairway, not his own. And not by someone in his own group!

Recalling this incident with dread, I pull out my trusty Sharpie and make several additional markings on a fresh sleeve of Pro V1s. As we wait patiently in the cart loading zone for the starter to call our names and introduce us to the rest of our foursome, we are both silently staring at something that could make this a very long afternoon. In front of us is a cart loaded with two golf bags. Around the cart are three people: two dudes and one woman. The starter notices this too, walks over to the group, and says something that we cannot hear. Blank looks are the only reply. The woman kisses the guy on the passenger side and marches off in a tiff.

Whew. Not sure why a significant other – no matter how significant – would ever agree to spending a Saturday afternoon watching her boyfriend play golf with his buddy and two strangers, but thankfully the universal two-person-per-cart policy is always enforced. Always.

The first hole is a 401-yard, dogleg right par 4. The tee shot must carry a patch of water coming in from the right to a left-to-right sloped fairway. Tall trees on either side demand a good shot on your first swing of the day, although there is some room left and long of the fairway. A creek runs along the right rough and cuts in front of the elevated green, which is guarded by one bunker directly in front of it.

I pull my drive a little left and end up in the tall grass beyond the cart path, while BJ launches a Hogan-esque fade over the lone fairway bunker on the right, leaving himself about 125 yards in prime position. Left with 165 yards to the green from a crappy lie in the rough, I decide not to flirt with danger on the first hole and kick a PW to the end of the fairway in front of the creek. A mediocre chip leaves me with 10 feet above the hole. BJ sends his a little deep, too, and leaves himself with about 25 feet. Two pars are had to start the day.

No. 2 is the first of six par 4s under 375 yards. From the tee box, the hole looks rather unprotected but for the three bunkers jutting well into the right side of the fairway and the obvious water next to the tee on the left. What you can’t see over the ever so slightly raised fairway is the other pond, left of the landing area, and the green. Finally remembering this small detail after three rounds here (last go around I told BJ there was nothing to worry about on this hole, and then watched his perfect drive over the horizon mysteriously end in a splash) I hit a great drive to the right middle of the fairway, a few yards past the bunkers. BJ’s ball ends up well past mine and farther left, but dry.

No. 2.

 

The green is slightly elevated and angled diagonally from right to left. Two bunkers guard the front left and anything short of them will land in the “hidden” pond. I take dead aim at the pin in the middle of the green, but come up way short with my PW and leave myself a good 40 feet for par. I bogey the hole with three awful putts. BJ makes a nice routine par and, thanks to the handicap system, is now 2-up after two holes (he stroked on No. 1).

We match bogies on No. 3 and pars on No. 4, before teeing it up on the par 4 fifth hole found on the northern-most edge of the property. It is here that one might suddenly feel like he’s come down with “a case of the Mondays,” as the buildings across the street could very easily be IniTech’s northern Virginia office. There is nothing wrong with a golf course being in the heart of commerce with unobstructed views of the surroundings, and vice versa. It’s just that we are far more accustomed to parkland tracks in the middle of nowhere (or housing developments), and it feels a little out of place. Indeed, after making several cracks, I silently acknowledge being jealous of those who work across the street from a brand new golf course like this.

This distraction must be the reason for my three-putt bogey on No. 5 and, now, a three-hole deficit to BJ who parred the 408-yard, dogleg right par 4 like a pro. With water on the right and OB on the left, the tee shot can be tricky. He selected a 3 iron off the tee, split the fairway over the edge of the pond, hit the middle of the green with a pretty 6 iron, and two-putted to take a commanding lead on the front.

To get to the next tee, golfers must cross a meandering stream on what might be the loudest bridge I have ever heard on a golf course. I’m sure it’s perfectly safe, but the platform boards on this thing are so loose or warped that you can hear people going over it all day long from any part of the course. What you can’t hear is the person sitting next to you while getting to the other side.

The sixth hole fits into another corner of the property, again with OB on the left and water on the right. The differences are found in the narrow width of the fairway and the 100-degree right hand turn around the pond to a green perched much closer to the water. Drives that go through the fairway – 250+ yards – will either go out of bounds or end up in the trees, while approach shots that miss the green short, right, or long will get wet. Have a nice day.

We both select 3 iron. BJ pushes his right toward the water. I find the middle of the fairway. Advantage me…or so I thought. Because of his sheer strength, his ball ends up flying the corner of the pond and landing only a few feet into the rough. Not even an awkward stance that could result in a face-first plunge into the pond after follow through is enough to stop him now. He hits a nice shot to the back of the green within 15 feet of the pin, and makes his par.

No. 6.
BJ being bold.

 

I do too, but no one wants to hear about a boring yet perfectly executed FIR-GIR-2-putt par.

With matching pars on the par 3 seventh, BJ closes me out on the front. Ouch. I’m only 3-over for the day, but BJ is just on fire right now with four straight pars and only one bogey, all day. Honestly, it’s fun to see him play so well, despite my already being $3 in the hole.

Back across Deafening Bridge to the 319-yard par 4 eighth. From the tee, the hole looks pretty harmless. You can see the flag at the end of the mostly straight fairway, and a fair amount of room in the rough on either side before the trees come into play. What you can’t see is the creek that cuts off the end of the fairway after maybe 230 yards, and the aboveground pool of a green complex on the other side. The wide but shallow green sits atop a four-foot stonewall that wraps around the front, left, and back sides, with one trap off the back right corner. With zero room for error – there can’t be more than eight feet of grass between the fringe and the moat around the stones – you will want to place your tee shot carefully to give yourself a nice wedge into the green.

I select a 3 iron and land my ball safely in the middle of the fairway, leaving at most a 60-yarder to the pin in the left middle of the green. BJ selects a 5 iron and nukes his ball past mine – on the fly – stopping only a few feet from the end of the fairway. All I can do is acknowledge his power and press on. My ¾ sand wedge lands my ball safely on the putting surface about 20 feet from the pin. Not great but better than in the ditch, which is where BJ’s ends up after he skulls it over the green. After a drop and a nice up-and-down, he saves bogey. I par. I should have “pressed” two holes ago.

Unfortunately he follows this up with another bogey on the par 5 ninth, a 511-yarder that doglegs right around the edge of a pond. I, on the other hand, take advantage of the pushed up tees and hit the green in two. Crappily, I make par after three awful putts. Although BJ stumbles a bit coming home, and my putting sucks, we both make the turn at 38. Not too shabby.

We match pars on No. 10 (BJ gets a shot) and No. 11 before stepping up to the 288-yard par 4 twelfth. Going for the green on this short hole is certainly an option but there are enough obstacles in your line of sight to make you reconsider, including OB on the left, water along the right, and a bunker in the middle of the fairway. The hole turns slightly left, up a slope, to a tiny green that is guarded by two bunkers in the front. As you stare at the pin from the tee, you can’t help but notice in your peripheral vision the dozen white stakes pointing just past the left edge of the green.

We are on the IniTech side of the property again, and while random buildings along the outside of a golf course’s borders would not normally come into play, we are not playing with normal golfers. After BJ and I both successfully find the fairway with long irons, we witness one of the best things of the day. One of the gentlemen we’re playing with steps up with driver and hits a high duck hook around a telephone pole, under the wires running through the pole, and up onto the roof of a warehouse. We see it bounce twice and then hear several bangs before it finally goes out of view. Thankfully his buddy starts laughing before either one of us can. He prudently tees up another ball, even though I think there’s an outside chance his first one bounced along the top of the roof and exited near the green.

I have no more than 100 yards left to the green from the middle of the fairway. Instead of overexerting myself with a sand wedge to get the ball to the pin on the back part of the green, I go with another ¾ swing with my pitching wedge. Hit way too hot, it skips past the pin and off the back edge into the rough. BJ finds the green and has a good look at birdie.

My ball is sitting up nicely in the rough, inches from the fringe and only 15 feet from the pin. I take dead aim at the cup and manage to turn my 15-foot chip for birdie into a 15-foot putt for par. My touch isn’t quite what it should be this early in the season. But I sink the comebacker and put the pressure on BJ to make his four-footer for par. He does, and I remain 1-down.

The thirteenth hole is not a terribly long par 4 at 448 yards, but it feels like a monster when the next longest two-shotter on the course tops out at 408 yards (No. 5). From the tee, a hitter must contend with OB lurking on the left and a grouping of trees on the right. The fairway is wide open with a bunker on either side – the left bunker is easily carried, while the one on the right is a little out of reach for me to worry about. The second shot is over a pond that cuts through the fairway and then runs along the right hand side past the green. This can be an intimidating shot with a long iron in your hands.

No. 13.
Pretty nice for a brand new course.

 

My description of the hole is far more exciting than how we played it. We both bogey, but with a stroke BJ takes a commanding 2-up lead on the back. It becomes insurmountable after I double-bogey the par 3 fourteenth.

The final par 5 on the course is No. 15, and it is the longest at 560 yards. It’s a pretty straight hole with only a minor swing to the left near the green. The fairway is pretty open, but it is sloped from right to left toward a pond. What makes this hole tricky is the second shot, or lay-up, over the hill to a blind landing area between two bunkers and a sneaky second pond creeping in from the left. The green is huge and has a strong back to front tilt.

BJ and I both miss the fairway left off the tee, but while my ball finds the deep rough, his nuked ball cools at the bottom of the pond. Before hitting our next shots we make darn sure the group ahead of us is on the green. The last time we were here BJ intended to layup with his second shot, but absolutely murdered it over the crest of the hill. Only when we popped over the hill a few minutes later did we see his ball sitting on the far right side of the green about ten feet away from the unhappy foursome attempting to finish the hole. The gentlemanly thing to do in this situation is to call out “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to hit you!” Unfortunately, BJ exacerbated the problem by blurting this out the moment one of the golfers started his backswing.

His wet tee ball is the difference this time around: I par, he bogeys, but gets a stroke and maintains his 3-up lead. With matching pars on the short par 3 sixteenth, he closes me out on the back to complete his total (front-back-overall) victory for the day. Although we both bogey Nos. 17 and 18 to finish our rounds with 78s, we are quite pleased with breaking 80 this early in the season. And for BJ this marks only the second time doing so; the first coming in late August 2007 at a course near Charlottesville. Because of that, I have no issue whatsoever with handing him a 10 dollar bill to settle our bet. He played great golf to beat me and there’s nothing for me to be upset about.

The one thing bad about my 78 is the doubt it places in my head days before dropping a hefty amount of dough on a brand new set of clubs. Of course the flip side of that is: if I can shoot 78 with my out-of-date sticks, just imagine what I will do with some brand new weapons.

Closing thoughts:

  • Nine out of 13 fairways.
  • Missed 11 greens, including the final seven.
  • 32 putts!
  • Shaved 1/10 of a point off my index to 5.4.

 

 

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LAUREL HILL GOLF CLUB

Editor’s Note: I played almost two dozen rounds of golf in 2011, many of which were quite memorable. Some were unforgettable. As the 2012 season is only now getting underway for me, I’d like to go back and share as many of last year’s rounds as I can.

We begin with Masters Sunday.

Laurel Hill Golf Club
April 10, 2011

Showing up at the course as a threesome is always a crapshoot. You’re hoping for the best but you know darn well that the pro shop will be putting a straggler in your group. It is for this reason you never want to be the last of the three to show up at the course. The first two to arrive will quickly double up on a cart, leaving you with the next cart in the line and an empty passenger seat soon to be warmed by the rear end of a complete stranger. We are the closest of friends, but that’s not the sort of bullet one of us is willing to take for the other.

From the time you lace up your spikes, remove your clubs from the trunk, and head toward the pro shop, your eyes are darting from random lone dude to random lone dude wondering which one will be your fourth.

Courses must know this, too, because they keep you guessing on when they intend to introduce you to the person with whom you’ll be making awkward conversation for the next five hours.

The first hurdle is checking in. You hand over your credit card and nod when the pro shop staff inevitably asks, “Just one?” (Yes, as much as I enjoy spending time with my pals I do not intend to pay for all three of us.) As your card is being swiped you brace yourself expecting him to point to the back of the room and say, “Aaand the overweight gentleman back there wearing a red Nike shirt, black jeans, black TW hat, and white belt will be joining you today.”

When that doesn’t happen, you feel relieved.

Step two is handing your receipt to the cart guards outside. The Chief of Carts holds your receipt up to his clipboard checklist and confirms your time. “Just a threesome?”

Gulp. “Yes.”

“Okay. Range balls are on the cart. Be back here ten minutes before your tee time.”

You begin to believe it is possible.

By the time you pull up to the driving range, you have already identified the two guys who are clearly hitting balls solo and the one hacking out of the bunker next to the practice green. And ranked them in order of “no,” “please no,” and “I’ll carry my bag if it’s him.”

You do some token stretching, hit a few balls, and trash talk your buddies, all while keeping an eye on the three loners. When it’s time to head back toward the first tee, where the putting green is, you wait to see if any of them feel the need to leave with you.

No one moves.

After six minutes on the putting green the starter calls a huddle to go over today’s pin placements and other assorted instructions. The three of you step forward and prepare for the worst. Who’s it going to be? The guy with the Ricky Fowler hat? The one who just removed seven empty beer cans from his bag? Or the gentleman wearing a VT hat, putting his watch in his VT bag with the VT towel, the VT head covers, and the maroon and gold VT putter?

“Okay. Gentlemen, enjoy your round.”

Holy crap. Not only did you and your two buddies luck out by getting to play without a fourth, but you got your own cart. You may even play the entire first hole with a silly smirk on your face. Dumb jokes are suddenly twice as funny. You don’t care that you missed the green with your approach shot by 40 yards. Today is going to be a blast because the three of you can do or say anything you want during the round without having to apologize to a stranger for your inside jokes or offensive comments. Your pace of play will not be determined by a wildcard.

As you’re lining up your putt on the first green, you see out of the corner of your eye a ranger cart barreling down the middle of the fairway toward the green. That’s odd, you normally don’t see the ranger until the first par 3. As he approaches you see two bodies instead of one. Two rangers, seriously? The body in the passenger seat is – oh no – carrying a bag of clubs in his lap. They’re bringing you your fourth! With clenched teeth you stroke the putt ten feet past the cup. Now your double bogey to start the round is no longer funny – it’s this guy’s fault.

This guy. A guy who says, “Sure, I’ll join that threesome. And no I don’t care if I have to skip an entire hole to do it.” Awesome.

Think about it: adding a stranger to another group of golfers is a really bizarre thing to do. Where else does this happen? Have you ever gone to a restaurant for dinner and been told that the man waiting next to you at the door will be joining you? Because, hey, it’s a table for four and we need to keep dinners moving. Of course not.

I understand the reason why it’s done on a golf course, and even concede that it’s the prudent thing to do to keep pace of play consistent around the course. Perhaps it’s another one of those things that makes golf a gentleman’s game. But still, it’s really awkward sometimes and it can break – but almost never make – a round.

For this reason alone we’ve been auditioning various acquaintances of ours in the hopes that we can find that elusive fourth man to make our group impenetrable to any course policy in town. So far unsuccessful.

So this nightmare of a scenario is what’s in the back of all our minds on our way down 395 toward Lorton. BJ, Mike, and I are ready to kick off the 2011 season with our first round at Laurel Hill, a fantastic municipal course built on the grounds of the old Lorton Reformatory. To refer to the course as a “muni,” however, is ridiculous because it rivals any public course in the area. Extremely well maintained and pretty damn tough to master.

We arrive at the course, check in, and to the nice man who takes our bags and asks us who wants to ride with whom we say, “Surprise us.” We watch anxiously as he indiscriminately grabs two bags and pairs them up on a cart. Mike and I breathe a sigh of relief; BJ is the odd man out today.

On this particular day we get as far as the driving range before we are introduced to our fourth, and true to form it manages to get off to an uncomfortable start. It’s a busy Sunday and the range is packed, so BJ and I are in adjacent stalls, but Mike is a few yards away up the range. I hear BJ muttering something.

“Seriously? I guess this is how we’re going to do this, then.”

I turn around to see the starter moving some of BJ’s personal belongings around in his cart, while another man is putting his own clubs on the back. Pretending not to notice but very clearly irritated by this nontraditional form of introduction, BJ tees up another ball and smacks it range-ward. I spin around so BJ can’t see me laughing. Mike sees what’s going on, gives me a look of horror, and goes back to hitting balls.

“Haha. (sarcastic) This is awesome,” BJ says after taking another look at the men commandeering his cart. He nearly tops his next shot. “Love how this day is shaping up.”

He says something else inaudible (but likely unprintable anyway) and then walks toward the cart. On a dime he turns on the charm, extends his hand, and introduces himself to his new partner. Pleasantries are exchanged, including a lighthearted comment from BJ about hoping to find his cellphone after someone went through his cart, and we all go back to hitting balls.

Naturally, after getting all worked up about this, our fourth turned out to be an awfully pleasant retired gentleman who plays LHGC frequently, and in fact played with Mike once before. For the purposes of this post, we’ll call him Ned.

Let’s play some golf.

The first drive of the year has a lot riding on it. After nearly five months between my last round of 2010 and today, I’d love to think I’ve retained all the progress I had achieved by the end of last season and forgotten all the bad. Of course this is nonsense and I know it, as I tee up my ball and take a nice long look at the first hole. The 435-yard par 4 is a predominately straight downhill hole off the tee with bunkers on both sides of the landing area. The left ones can easily be carried with a drive of 230 yards or more, but the two bunkers on the right, at approximately 250 yards from the tee, are perfectly located to cause trouble. The hole continues downward for another 100 yards or so before bottoming out and gradually climbing upward to a huge green. There are three bunkers to its left.

I address the ball and hit a weak draw over the left bunkers and into the deep rough. Eh, I’ll take it. Mike and BJ follow with lukewarm drives of their own, and Ned smacks a short but perfectly straight drive from the white tees. The 2011 season has begun.

I’m left with 190 yards, but the thick rough and downhill slope dash any hope I have of reaching the green. Instead of playing it smart by hacking out with a higher lofted club to the middle of the fairway, I select my 3 iron and stubbornly assume that I will make perfect contact and reach the green. My second shot barely makes if four feet off the ground and ends up just short of the first greenside bunker on the left. A decent chip to the front middle pin placement leaves me ten feet for par. Which is great, because I take three putts to finish.

You never want to start too hot.

The second hole is a short, gradually uphill 351-yard par 4, that is all about the tee shot. The fairway narrows 175 yards out from the tee. Tall trees guard the right side, while several bunkers come into play on the left before the hillside completely falls off the table into the woods and down to a creek. There is a fairway bunker on the right side, past the trees, that is reachable only by BJ.

My natural draw kills me on this hole time after time, so I favor the right side and hope for the best. Amazingly, the best happens and my ball finds the middle of the fairway. A nice smooth 9 iron to the middle of the green, two putts, and I have myself a par.

No. 3 is a bear. The various tee boxes on this par 4 are perched above a grassy, overgrown, and watery gully, flanked by tall overhanging trees. Once your tee shot clears this mess, it is greeted by a wide open fairway on a severe upslope that relentlessly continues all the way to the green. The fairway looks like a brick wall with one pot bunker in the middle and two on the right. Tee shots far left or far right must deal with narrow strips of rough before bouncing into the fescue.

I find the middle of the fairway but way short of the bunker…and just about everything else. It’s always a kick in the face to watch your ball hit the turf and roll back a few yards. I’ve played this course almost 20 times and only twice gotten home in two. Standing over my 225-yard second shot – all uphill carry – with my 23-year-old MacGregor 3 wood (that’s a story for another time), I’m confident I won’t be adding to my GIR total.

I make great contact with my antique fairway wood, but come up 15 yards short of the long two-tiered green. The pin is way back and my approach chip leaves me close to 20 feet to save par. Par is not saved. Bogey.

This is followed by a four-hole stretch of bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie. A level-par streak I couldn’t be upset with if I were in mid-season form. I’m also 1-up on Mike on the front nine, and that’s $3 I’m not about to throw away with one hole to go.

No. 4.
Great par 3. Dumb bogey.

 

No. 9 is the second par 5 on the front and one of my favorite holes in the area. The tee shot must carry a deep and wide gully to a slightly left-to-right sloped fairway that is practically a plateau between two densely-wooded hillsides. Three bunkers on the right act as lifesavers for balls hit toward the woods on that side, with only one that is reachable on the left. The fairway then doglegs sharply to the right, snakes down the hill, narrows to no more than 30 yards in width, and makes a large sweeping turn back to the left to a long but narrow green. A big hitter may think about going for the green in two, but must contend with three large bunkers short and yet another forest of death that blocks out the left half of the green. Great zigzagging 3-shotter.

Remembering only my worst drives on this hole from the previous year, all of which ended up at the bottom of the hill on the right side, I favor the left a little more than I should. My drive is hit dangerously close to the trees on the left, but lands in the rough with a few clear bounces. Whew. Mike smokes his drive well into the right trees. I mean directly into them. (No, I don’t feel good about writing this.)

I completely squander my good fortune of staying out of the trees on the left off the tee by nearly putting my second shot in the crap on the right. Wanting only to advance the ball up the fairway to give myself a good approach to the green, I push my 4 iron and watch as the ball disappears over the right edge of the hill. I quickly look over to BJ who has a better vantage point from the top of the hill and wait for him to signal the ball’s status. He shrugs and gives me a thumbs-up. The ball ends up in the deep rough at the bottom of the hill, six feet short of a red stake. I hack out to the fairway, and land my fourth shot on the front right of the green. Lightning strikes and I sink a 35-footer for par.

A 40 and a 2-up victory over Mike on the front.

We make a brief stop at the turn and I get myself a turkey sandwich and a red Gatorade. (I only mention this because it may seem relevant later. I promise you I’m not going to blog about everything I do on the course, including whether or not I put mayo on my sandwich. I did, but that’s not the point. You tell me if it matters a few holes from now…)

We roll up to the tenth tee on the far side of the range and wait for someone to volunteer to go first. Each of us has a sandwich in his hands and doesn’t want to go through the hassle of putting it down just so that we can continue with our round. The group in front of us has already cleared the green and the dudes behind us are not stopping for refreshments. Sigh. I put my sandwich down on the seat and head for the tee.

The back nine starts with a short, 334-yard, par 4 that doglegs to the left around two bunkers. The elevated fairway is wide open, but a miss to the far right will land in some fescue/trees, while the not-so-far left is awfully close to the out-of-bounds. Had my sandwich not been foremost on my mind, I probably would have done the prudent thing and selected a 3 iron. Nevertheless, I crush a drive over the right edge of the bunker that draws and lands in the middle of the fairway, not more than 90 yards from the green. Or so I’m told, because the moment I made contact with my ball my eyes locked onto my sandwich again.

A few minutes later I’m holding my pitching wedge and salivating over the front right pin placement. From this distance I’m more comfortable hitting a ¾ PW than hitting a full sand wedge, and I can’t wait to scare the flag with my second shot. Perhaps the late morning infusion of electrolytes is more than I can handle, because my ball sails over the back of the green and comes to rest just feet from the cart path.

This leads to a dumb bogey on the only “easy” hole on the inward nine, but I quickly get that stroke back with a lucky chip-in from the right edge on the par 3 eleventh hole.

This takes us to No. 12, a 401-yard par 4 with a perfectly straight fairway, but whose tees and green are pushed to the right hand side, creating the feel of a dogleg. This is probably the hardest tee shot for me on the course. I have killed many a round by pushing my drive into the woods on the right side of this hole. Today I have the magic stroke and hit a great drive down the left middle of the fairway. A 6 iron finds the left middle of the green roughly 30 feet from the cup. Two putts for par on a tough hole, and I’m even on the back – I’m flying high…

…when it hits me for the first time. Without going into the details let’s just say that my attention immediately shifts from enjoying my great par to hastily calculating how many holes are between here and the clubhouse. Specifically the locker room.

Yes, nature has sent me a friendly tweet.

Biting my lower lip, I look out from the tee onto the thirteenth fairway as it winds down the hill away from the clubhouse. No. 14 is a par 3 back up the hill, and No. 15 – naturally the longest hole on the course at 587 yards – is a long…climbing…monster of a par 5 that finishes next to the practice green outside the clubhouse.

Faced with this mighty stretch of holes, the smart thing to do would be to politely excuse myself now and head straight to the clubhouse before the fireworks start. But I’m even par over my last eight holes, and to suddenly pick up and leave in the middle of this round would be criminal. I can make it. Probably a false alarm anyway.

Putting this minor issue out of mind, I push my tee shot toward the small strip of grass between the fairway bunker and hazard on the right side. For some unknown reason Nos. 12 and 13 are cart-path-only holes, and I frequently manage to hit my ball to the side opposite the asphalt. Plus, because I can never remember how far that bunker is from the green, I must always take a handful of irons with me from the parked cart. Over to the ball I go with my 7, 8, and 9 irons, only to discover once I get there that the lie is bad and I’m still 165 yards away from the green (normally a 6 iron).

Time is of the essence here, and the small cluster of trees on the edge of the hazard interferes with a clear shot at the green anyway, so I concede to hitting my 7 down the fairway back into play. From there I pitch it to the center of the green, and two-putt for bogey.

One hole down.

The fourteenth is a 212-yarder, all uphill to a two-tiered green, with a severe drop off on the right into the thick brush below. There are five bunkers scattered across the front and right side of the green that can be helpful if your ball is hot enough to careen off the slope and into the trees.

Uh, hmmmmmmmmmm, heh. Another slightly more urgent tweet from nature.

I hate to do it, but this hole is so long that I must use my 5 wood off the tee. Instead of once again hitting a 3 iron short because I’m afraid to admit how weak I am (for this reason alone it’s time to buy new clubs), I decide this time I must do what it takes to hit this green…and speed things along. I’m rewarded with a pretty shot to the left side of the lower tier of the green. The pin is on the top shelf, but I don’t really care at this point. Three putts later I’m that much closer to getting to where I need to go.

One more hole. I can do this!

I have the honor, and without incident I shove my tee in the ground and fire away. No time for practice swings. The ball is hit pretty well and carries up the right side of the fairway, well short of the cart path that cuts across the middle of the hole around the 290 mark. Then I wait for BJ and Mike to do the same. Standing as still as possible on the edge of the tee box, I can see the tiny pin at the top of the hill. It looks like it’s on the moon. I close my eyes until I hear both drives struck. Get in the cart, Mike!

No. 15.
1,652 yards all uphill.

 

Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten that Ned still needs to hit from the white tees, and I slam on the breaks. This was a mistake. I now know there’s no way I can finish this hole. Ned, God bless him, takes no practice swings and his ball is soon airborne. Off we go again.

We drive up to my ball. I hop out with my 3 wood, take all of 4 seconds to consider the shot, aim thataway, and send my ball cruising up the middle of the slowly rising fairway. Mike takes considerably more time to go through his routine before hitting his second shot. Granted, this is probably how someone without digestive issues would act but, man, does it seem deliberate right now.

He hits a nice shot to…you know what; I don’t really remember what he does. It’s time to get out of here. He finally gets back in the cart and as we drive up the path I say, “Get…your bag; I’ll meet you…on the next hole.”

Laughing, he exits and quickly unlatches his bag from the back of the cart. “Clear!” I slam on the gas and take off at the breakneck speed of 6 miles per hour.

I briefly consider lifting the seat to stick a tee in the governor of the cart motor, possibly giving me another 10 to 15 mph. But this trick also screws up the engine, makes really loud backfire sounds, emits black smoke, and generally shreds the “I promise to return this cart in proper order” waiver every golfer signs before teeing off. Rightly, courses tend to frown upon taking this action. Plus, I’m driving toward the clubhouse, and any time I gain from the extra speed would be negated by the time spent on this delicate procedure.

The cart slowly chugs up the hill and as it does I can only imagine the conversation currently taking place in the fairway as BJ sees Mike carrying his own bag. No time to care. Must focus on using as few muscles as possible to keep this pedal down. The cart path meanders up the left side of the hole, around the side of the green, and crosses with the main path between the clubhouse and No. 1. I fly though this intersection and past the practice green, parking an inch from the steps to the grill room. Up the steps, through the doors, past the bar, around the corner in the main foyer, and into the locker room.

Crisis averted.

Having a few minutes to think about things…I’m bummed that I’ve pretty much thrown away my chance to post a great score today. Even if I end up breaking 80, I can’t really call it official without finishing No. 15. Plus, I’ll have to concede that hole to Mike and our match on the back is still pretty tight (1-up with the concession).

We meet up again on the sixteenth tee. After several obligatory jokes at my expense, and the decision for me to mark a bogey on the card for No. 15, it’s time to play some more golf.

No. 16 is the final par 3 on the course. It is 185 yards in length and slightly downhill to a kidney-shaped green surrounded by four bunkers on each side – north, south, east, and west. To the left of the green is a pond. But there are two sets of tee boxes, which can create two completely different holes. If the tees closest to the clubhouse are being used that day, only shots that fly the green – or incredibly horrible hooks – will find the water. If the tees to the left are used, as they are today, the water must be carried.

Feeling like a new man, I groove a 4 iron to within 1o feet of the pin on the back right corner of the green. My putt finds the center of the cup, bounces off the back edge, and plops home for birdie. This helps me close out my match with Mike for the day and go dormie on the back, which means there’s still hope for him yet.

Until I make a ridiculous birdie on No. 17 (driver, 3W, 20-foot-putt) and crush his hopes. This is followed by a routine par on the last hole for a 1-over 36.

Though an unofficial 76, for the reasons discussed earlier, this is easily the “best first round of the season” I’ve ever had. And it couldn’t come at a worse time considering my long overdue decision this winter to purchase a new set of clubs. Maybe my beloved DCIs are still trying to prove something to me.

Closing thoughts:

  • 10 out of 13 fairways.
  • 7 greens.
  • 30 putts.
  • Handicap Index drops half point from 6 to 5.5.
  • ($10 from Mike.)

What a summer this is going to be.

 

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