Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Doubled down and came up big at Koasati Pines.

The weather finally cooperated and allowed me to drive out to Kinder, Louisiana so that I could play Koasati Pines at Coushatta Casino Resort. The drive was about three hours and I arrived almost ninety minutes early for my 12:30 tee time. I actually wondered if the place was open as I didn't see many cars in the parking lot. I checked in, hit some balls on the range and such and headed to the first tee about 45 minutes early. A threesome was on the tee but thankfully they let me jump ahead of them.

The first hole is a par-5 that in my haste to get off the tee, sorta had me confused on what to do on my second shot :

From the fairway of the first hole at Koasati Pines
 I assumed I had to hit over the hazard that split the fairway, so I did. When I drove up to the bridge there, it wasn't wide enough for the cart. What the fuck? Where do I go? Knowing that threesome was behind me and having no idea where to take the cart I grabbed a few clubs and walked to my ball. I then promptly hit a three-quarter gap wedge too far, over the green. Once I found where the cart path to the green was I managed to get up and down for par. At least the day didn't start off with disaster.

I didn't see another soul until the 13th hole, when I ran into a twosome. Unfortunately, they had run up against a fivesome so the pace of play came to a screeching halt. I eventually paired up with the twosome on the 16th hole and managed to finish the round just before 3:00, at which time I decided to play again.

Oh, you want to know how I did? I did pretty well, shooting 39-35=74 on a 6200-yard course that wasn't terribly difficult (69.5/120). However, that isn't the round that I really want to talk about. Yes, its a solid round by all accounts and I'd normally be quite happy to tell you all about it. That second round, yep, its the second round I really need to go into more details on.

Off we go! My drive to lead off the second round wasn't great but on this par-5 it was good enough. I learned from that first experience that the best play is to stay left of the hazard on the second shot, putting me here :

The first green
Now it makes sense! This time the gap wedge found the green and made for a much simpler par. Just like the first round, I parred the second hole but needed a terrific pitch from over the green just to get within eight feet. Making that putt was more important than I realized at the time. The third hole is a par-3, seen here :

The green of the par-3 third hole
 My first time around I hit 8-iron and came up short of the hole, but made the green. This time I took one more club but pushed it about 10 yards, hitting the green over the bunker on the right. The greens here are pretty smooth and relatively flat compared to other places so my 30-footer wasn't too frightening. The birdie putt stayed high but a tap-in par is always nice.

The fourth is a 404-yard par-4 that give me trouble both times I played it, making bogey each round. The first time I hit a good drive and then a really nice 6-iron that didn't hold the green and went over, where I failed to get up and down for par. This time I hit my drive solid but a little left, just off the fairway but still right of the fairway bunker. I nearly lost the ball, it took me three minutes to find it. The rough here is a crap shoot (no pun intended) as sometimes it'll sit up a bit and other times the ball will sink down to the point you are lucky to see the top of the ball.

In this case I hoped to hack it out and see if the ball could at least get to the front of the green. No dice. It shot off left and found the trap in front of the green. Now I had a long bunker shot that had to carry most of said sand just to reach the green, which I failed to do as the ball just checked up on the fringe and stayed there. My chip for par wasn't short either as the pin was in the back of the green. I caught the chip a little heavy and left it about 12 feet short. Like the second hole, I made that putt without realizing just how important it would be later on.

The fifth green at Koasati Pines
The fifth hole is a short par-4 that took driver out of my hands due to the water crossing the fairway. The first time my 3-wood went through the fairway but stopped short of the hazard. This time I went with 5-wood... and STILL went through the fairway. Both times I hit the green with a gap wedge and made par so no damage done.

The sixth hole is another longish par-4 that I played similarly both times with different results. Since the flag was tucked on the far left side of the green just over a greenside bunker I tried to hit just a little right and long of the hole. The first time my 6-iron stayed out to the right and cut a bit, barely hitting the green just short of hole-high. I then three-putted from about 45 feet. The second time I managed to get closer, hole high but still 25 feet right. This time I nearly made the putt and came away with par. This is the first time I made a different score on a hole, it wouldn't be the last.

The seventh hole wouldn't be one of those times, though par was made two different ways :

The seventh green
The first time around the wind wasn't doing much, or so I thought. Either way, my 7-iron was horrible, barely reaching the trap. The bunkers here are probably the only part of the course that was subpar in their upkeep, however I managed to get this shot up to about five feet and made the putt. The second round I decided to use more club, thinking that the wind might make me swing harder than I'd like. I put the ball about 10-12 feet short of the hole but missed the birdie, leaving an uphill putt short of all things. At least it was on line.

The eighth hole is a par-4 playing about 380 yards. The first time my drive hit the fairway but my 7-iron approach hit just right of the flag and bounced through the green, where I had a fairly simple up and down for par. The drive on the second round ended up a little right and in the rough but I drew a good lie. Again I had 7-iron and tried to go for the middle of the green, left of the hole. Despite that effort, the ball still ended up landing just right of the hole but bounced right, settling on the fringe but less than 20 feet from the hole. This little chip was not difficult at all, in fact its one that could easily be made... which I did! The shot came out exactly how I imagined it would.

This brings us to the par-5 ninth hole. Like an idiot, I forgot to get a picture of it (though that link up top might lead you to what it looks like if your curious). Anyway, the card says it plays 505-yards. OK, fine. I see water cuts the fairway down the way but it looks to be quite a ways to me. So, I hit a good drive, maybe a little left of my line, but I see the ball land and clear of trouble, maybe it'll be in the rough.

I never found it.

A ranger came up and told me that if I hit driver from the where the tee was placed that I was in the water as it was only about 250 yards from there. The rough short of the water wasn't really high at all, in fact it would have been about as good as the fairway. So, if my ball wasn't there, its wet. I wasn't happy about it but I drop another pellet and discover I'm only about 185 yards from the pin. My 4-iron squirted right and found the trap right of the green, where I hit a decent shot but missed a 12  footer for par to make bogey. Meh.

Knowing this, out comes the 3-wood. Perfect. I now have 210 yards to the hole, which was cut on the left side of the green. Perfect. Out comes the 5-wood. My ball lands about pin high, just right of the flag, and ends up about 30 feet past the hole for eagle. My first putt wandered a bit left at the hole but I made the four-footer for birdie to shoot 1-under 35 on the front side. Yay! I hadn't had an under-par nine holes yet and now I've done it two times in a row.

You might be asking if I've ever had a full 18-hole round under par. The answer is no. I've shot even-par a few times, though all but once were on courses like Water Oak in Lady Lake, Florida, a course well under 6000 yards and not terribly difficult. The most recent was at the now-defunct Rock Springs Ridge in my old stomping grounds, Apopka, Florida. I think I did this the day before leaving for a cruise in 2005 or something. We'll just say its been a while.

A view of the par-5 tenth green from the fairway
Next up, another par-5 that has a split fairway. My first go-round was a birdie. After a really good drive I had 4-iron to the green. I missed right but ended up hitting my pitch to about two feet. The second attempt saw my drive flail off to the right, forcing me to figure out where to lay up. I simply hit a 7-iron down what I could see as the fairway, which was too much but still out of trouble. I hit sand wedge from about 75 yards to about ten feet, just barely on the front of the green but a good shot nonetheless.

The putt was uphill and looked to break slightly right... or did it? My putt never moved right and glided right over the left lip, seemingly settling at about 10 o'clock. This is where I had my Justin Thomas moment. It wasn't near as dramatic nor did it take anywhere near as long but it looked like the hole had placed a tractor beam on the ball and drug it down into its depths, giving me three straight birdies! Now the game was on! I'm 2-under after ten holes? I've never been 2-under this deep into a round before, uncharted territory indeed.

On to the 11th hole, a shortish par-4 with water left of the fairway and fronting the green. The first pass I made a near perfect birdie, hitting a great drive, wedged up to about five feet and canned the putt. In the second round I nearly blew the fucking round up right off the tee. Easily the worst swing I made all day, an ugly duck-hook that I thought for sure was going to be in the hazard to the left. As luck would have it, the rough was a bit thick over there and the ball hung up short of the wet stuff. What a relief! Here's a look at the hole :

From the FAIRWAY of the 11th hole
I still had work to do. Ball above my feet, pin on the left side of the green, water short. I had to go right. I took an extra club, drawing 9-iron. I made decent contact but the ball never did go left as I expected it would off of that lie but at least I hit the green. I managed to cozy up a lag putt to about two feet and got out of there with a par and I can't recall a time I was happier with making a four in my life.

The twelfth hole is another little par-3, though devoid of water this time:

The short par-3 12th hole
I say short but for some reason it seemed to play longer than it looked. The pin was back but was still just 135 yards away. Both time I hit 8-iron as their was a slight breeze into me but I never got to the hole on either round. The first one was 30 feet short but on the green. The second time was much closer to pin-high but still short and on the fringe. I nearly holed out the chip for birdie (that would have been something!) but I was happy with par on both occasions.

The 13th hole was another shortish par-4, but this hole had a dog-leg left around a hazard. The first time around I was 2-under on the back nine and hit a perfect drive, then had to wait for that twosome I mentioned. When they finally cleared the green I promptly laid the sod over the ball and ended up making bogey. This time my drive wasn't quite as good but I managed to get 9-iron to the green, landing about 20 feet left of the hole. I scared the hole a bit for birdie but left myself a stress-free tap in for par.

The next hole was another not-so-long par-4 that I made par on both times that I played it. Again, water was left but I had no issues with that either time. The first time I missed the green but got up and down. The second round I hit the green and had a decent look at birdie but took two putts without complaint.

The 15th hole at Koasati Pines
When I got to the 15th hole on that first round the twosome was still waiting to hit their drives. I was thinking they'd offer to have me join them at this point but for whatever reason they didn't and drove off. Anyway, the bigger problem was where to hit the damn ball. This hole has another split fairway, though it can be tough to tell in the picture. To the left, its more direct but narrow, with water off to the left side. The other fairway is right, over the fairway bunkers you see to the right of that little tree near the center of the photo.

I decided to just try to hit my drive over the tree. Both times I pushed it a bit, going pretty much right over that trap but ended up in perfect position. Both times I hit a wedge up onto the green to about 20 or so feet and made par both times, though that putt on the second round looked awfully good for a really long time. If that had gone in I'd have been 3-under after 15 holes, which probably would have caused me to pass out. Probably a good thing I missed it then.

The 16th hole is a par-3 that was playing at around 140 yards. The first time around the wind was slightly in my face and my 8-iron ended up six feet short for a good look at birdie, which I would miss as I misread the putt. The second time around the wind was dead calm. For whatever reason, I could feel the nerves a little more now, enough that I thought about clubbing up. I elected against it, thinking that a full swing would hold up better than trying to dial down. This time I ended up about 25 feet long and slightly right of the hole. I left the putt short but by just two feet, so I was able to sweep that in and move on.

Now we come to the 17th hole. I have no picture, but this hole was much like the fourth hole. A dogleg right that was playing about 380 yards, I just didn't like how the hole looked from the tee. There were traps on both sides, but no water so that helped. Could I carry the trap on the right? I don't know, but I didn't want to block myself from a look at the green if I went too far right. So, I tried to go at the corner of one of the traps on the left.

The first time wasn't so bad, I missed the fairway left but drew a bad lie. I hacked it out and had to hit a long chip and run to the hole in the back of a long, narrow green. The chip was hit perfectly but my judgment of pace was off a little as the green broke away from the hole once the ball rolled by. I hit a good putt to try for par but the damn thing didn't break right for some reason.

So, for the second attempt I decided to try and go a little more right.... and drop-kicked it. I'm surprised I didn't simply throw up right then and there. The shot I hit on the 11th was better than this one due to the fact that I managed to hit the ball first on that one. My luck held up though as the ball stayed in the fairway, even if I was 30-40 yards further away than I should be. The problem now was that I had 195 yards to the hole.

I decided that 5-wood was the best play. I could try to go with 4-iron and just see if I could hit the front of the green and maybe it would roll back to the hole. I decided to go with 5-wood since I thought that I might try to swing too hard with the 4-iron and hit another over-the-top klunker like my drive. That would have been the end of the round right then and there, I know it. So, 5-wood away.

It looked good. It was right of the hole, which I thought would be fine. As it happens, there was a trap back there and my ball ended up in there. The shot was good, the swing felt surprisingly fine and my ball was maybe 25-30 feet from the hole. The problem was I short-sided myself in one of these firm bunkers. Oh, and the green was sloping away from me also. Great!

I realized that, unless I hit the pin, I was going to have a long putt for par. I accepted that. I didn't try to get cute with this bunker shot one bit. If I were 2-over instead of 2-under I might have been tempted to try and flop it just over the lip of the trap and see if I could nestle it close. Not now. I blasted out, saw the ball roll 30-40 feet away and lived with it. From there, I managed to get down in two for bogey, no drama involved. I wish the putt had reached the hole and at least given me a chance to save par, sure. On the other hand, I don't know how I'd feel about trying to make a downhill three-footer for bogey either. Probably not well. Lamenting my ill-timed errors, I proceeded to the last hole.

A view from the fairway of the par-5 18th hole
Another par-5 to close out a side, another fairway cut short by a crossing water hazard. This time I knew better and used 3-wood off the tee. Now, during my first run I was even par for the back nine after taking bogey on the 17th. I was really hoping to find a way to birdie the last and having driver taken out of my hand wasn't making me happy. Regardless, the 3-wood "drive" was perfect. My second shot wasn't as good, a sorta-smothered 5-wood that ended up in decent shape just off the fairway to the left. I had about 100 yards to the hole but with an uphill lie I knew to club up and choke down on a wedge... which I hit to about two feet, made birdie and carded that 35. I'd love to do the same thing the second time. The pressure was much different this time though.

With the memory of my last drive fresh in mind, I hit some sort of toed-push weakly to the right. I missed the fairway but at least it didn't flair off somewhere awful. I didn't hit it well but at least I hit it far enough that I didn't have to be too worried about clearing the water as I fortunately had drawn a good lie. I had to use 3-wood to be sure I cleared the water, I couldn't chance being wrong and being short in the event I mishit it again. I put a good swing on it though and caught the ball clean, clearing the water and ended up about 120 yards from the hole. Very manageable! But I still had to reach the green.

By now I had noticed that if there was a breeze in the air I didn't feel it. The place was absolutely empty of everything. People? I didn't see any. Birds? Squirrels? Nope. I had the place to myself the entire time. The only things I saw now were my ball, the green and the flag. I knew I had to get said ball onto said green within reasonable proximity of said flag, since that was where the hole was. I had to get into that fucking hole in no more than three shots, even if I ended up dead after I did it. A good way to die if you ask me.

The club of choice was 9-iron. Its too much, but 120 yards is pushing the wedge right now and there was no trouble long. The pin was close to the middle of the green so I had plenty of room to go right at it, though I did hedge myself a bit left since there was a little more room on that side. After a deep breath, I just went into my pre-shot routine like I always do, nothing different, no changes there. I choked down a little in order to control the distance. We're ready. Go.

I made a solid swing. Contact felt a little weird to me, perhaps it was nerves, perhaps the ground was a bit firmer here. I really didn't give a shit at the time as the ball looked good in the air. Just left of the hole, now a little draw. Fine by me. The ball landed a little past pin high and eventually settled about 20 feet long and left of the hole. I was hoping for two feet again but twenty was better than a lot of other things that could have happened here.

I still had to get this damn ball in the hole. Two putts from twenty? Normally I'm not too worried, I'm looking to hopefully hole it. I tried to keep that same thought in mind. I want to make a normal stroke. My putting style is more a die-it-at-the-hole style anyway, so if I stick to that I should be fine as I've been good on my speed all day. Left to right, from this distance that is no big deal. Practice stroke, one time like normal. Line up. Follow the line from the hole to the ball. One more look to gauge distance. We're ready. Go.

The stroke felt better than I thought it would. I figured I'd stab or punch at it but no, it felt fairly normal. The ball looked to be on line for a long time but it stayed on the high side and rolled no more than about 12 to 18 inches past the cup. A tap in for par to shoot 71! Yes, I took a little more care than I would have on this one considering the circumstances, I didn't just brush at this one! Not today. We holed out and the task was complete. I leaked some oil coming home but I made it into the garage and it didn't kill me to do it.

In a Facebook post soon afterwards I said this was my best day ever. By simple score it is and by five shots. I'm not sure it was my best performance though. In 2002, I shot 77 and 73 on the courses at Troon North Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. I played from further back (Gold) on at least one of them and these courses are a good bit tougher than this one. I was playing my 4th and 5th rounds of the trip (6 rounds in 72 hours? In July? I'm an idiot) so I was probably close to heat exhaustion when I played here. I recall backing off several putts because I felt a little "dizzy". Yeah, pretty smart. But man, I played really well.

Whatever the argument for Best Day Ever is, nothing can replace the feeling of breaking par for the first time. Where that happens just doesn't matter, does it? I don't think so. Koasati Pines is no Water Oak, its a fine resort-style track that I would be happy to play again even if I had shot 91. The course was in excellent condition. The weather was perfect, even if it was a bit warm. I had the place to myself during that second round. No distractions. No waiting. Not every swing I made was perfect (actually, none of them were) but it was keeping me in play, unless I was choking under self-induced pressure. I've put in the time and it paid off, even if it might be for just one October day. I'll continue to put the time in as this inside path is doing something for me, no doubt. Full swing, chips, pitches, even putting has seen improvements.

Oh, I almost forgot the best part. This place has a 19th hole!

The cute little 19th hole, possibly the best par-3 here
Yes, I played it twice! The first time I hit wedge to about 20 feet, two putts for par. The second time I had just played the round of my life and I could breath again, so I took wedge out again and made a free-flowing swing... and nearly holed out. The best shot of the day came on a hole that doesn't count! I pushed it, it ended up about a putterhead length away from an ace. So, you could say that I shot a 2-over 77 and a really nice 2-under 73 on the day. Sure, lets say that.

Now, if I only could have been as lucky in the casino that night...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

How are Gil Gerard and golf related? They're probably not, but they made it into this post regardless.

After finding a good deal on Golf Now I decided to take the 90-minute drive to Galveston so I could play the course at Moody Gardens. I've been at the hotel/resort in the past for some gaming convention (where my wife got to chat with Gil Gerard for a bit, nice guy) but that was during the winter a few years back. This past Sunday it was warm, humid and as to be expected, quite breezy.

While the place didn't quite have that resort look to it the conditions were quite good. The course is pretty flat, which is to be expected considering it location, but there was plenty of water around. However, the main defense that this course has is the wind. Being a seaside (gulfside?) course the wind is just about always going to be a consideration and that was true during my round.

I took quite a few pictures, more than I normally do. I really did like quite a few of the holes. While most of them weren't overly exceptional I would say that the course as a whole could quite possibly be the best I've played in the Houston area so far. The tracks at Horseshoe Bay were nice but I'm not sure they are any better than Moody Gardens. Comparing the Hill Country to the Gulf Coast isn't really easy to do so I'll just leave it at that.

Without further ado, here are the pics that I took. We'll see if I can remember what is what :

The par-4 third hole
After pars on the first two holes, I came to this tee and have no idea what I should do. The hole measures 330 on the card but it was downwind. Out of bounds is right and the marsh is left, but even with a playing partner telling me about where to go I just never felt comfortable. I ended up snap-hooking a 3-wood into the junk. After a drop I wedged on and managed to salvage bogey. Now that I've seen the hole there is plenty of room straight on from the tee, just left of the fairway bunker. Next time I'm just gonna wail at it with a driver.

The par-3 fourth hole

The par-5 fifth hole

The 216-yard par-3 sixth

The approach on the tough par-4 eighth

The short but demanding par-3 ninth

A view from the tenth tee

The short but dangerous par-4 12th hole 

The long and windy par-3 13th hole

A look down the fairway of the par-4 16th hole

The short par-3 17th hole
I somehow forgot to get the 18th but I don't think I could really get a picture of that hole that would really give you the full picture anyway. Anyway, I started the back nine hitting the first three greens in regulation, though I had my only three-putt of the day on the par-5 11th. Still, Playing into that breeze coming off the water made these holes play fairly tough. Same can be said for the 13th as I needed 4-iron to try to reach a pin that was playing about 165 yards. I pulled it a little long and left, hit a good pitch from a collection area and drained a 15 footer to save par.

The wheels then briefly came off. After a good drive and a decent lay-up on the par-5 14th, I had a gap wedge to the green. I bladed that fucker, the ball skipping off the green and down into the marsh area behind the green. That led to a double bogey. The next hole, I found a fairway bunker but had a good lie. Again, I hit a gap wedge in the belly and that one flew about 20 yards over the green. At least I found that one and managed to score a bogey.

The wind was pretty strong by now, though mostly helping it was also pushing the ball a little right. .I missed the 16th green right but it stayed in play. A great up-and-down saved par there. I then hit a wedge on the 17th to about 12 feet but couldn't cash in for birdie. On the 18th, again I was a bit confused as to where to go and ended up hooking my drive left. I found it just a yard or so from a hazard. While I had only 150 yards to the hole, my lie was horrible. A forced carry over water meant I had to pitch nearly sideways back toward the fariway. From there I was able to save bogey and ended up with an 81 for the day. Considering the course played 6400 yards and had a decent rating (71.4/127) I'd say it wasn't awful by any stretch.

I didn't hit the ball terrific, though most of my drives were pretty solid if not always perfectly straight. Those bladed wedges (I had three as I did something similar on the first hole) wasn't cool. One thing I was very happy with was the putter. Even though I'm doing something with my stroke that feels a little awkward I was actually pretty comfortable over just about every putt I had, which ended up only being 28 of them. I only hit six greens but I was putting from the fringe on three others, so that wasn't my worst effort. Considering how the wind came up I guess I can't be too displeased.

Still, I need to do better with this swing plane thing. I need to trust the fact that I need to feel like I'm swinging outside when taking it back and allow momentum to bring the club back inside coming back down. The feeling it just so... weird. I've been the range already this week and today I just tried to let it happen regardless of where the ball ended up going. After a while I got a little rhythm going and hit some nice shots into a pretty strong headwind so there is hope for it yet.

This coming weekend I'm driving out to a place in Louisiana to play, combining play with work while doing it. Just seemed smart to combine the two and save both me and the company some cash. Since the weather looks good and there are no storms heading this way (yet?) I should actually get to play out there this time.

And as a parting shot, I leave you with this picture of my beautiful late wife, Maggie, posing with "Buck Rogers" after he recognized her as the woman that helped him raid a breakfast cart for cream and sugar on the 7th floor earlier that morning. Just because.

Room service cart raiders Maggie Perlini and Gil Gerard at Space City Con - Galveston in January 2014

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Golf Course at Lake Torretta

This past weekend I decided on playing as the weather was just too nice to simply practice. I decided on trying out La Torretta Resort in Montgomery as I had read good things about the place in the past. The place felt more like a residential course than a resort course to me, though it did remind me of the old Grenelefe Resort in Haines City, FL for some reason. The place isn't high end and the conditions are not pristine however I didn't see any evidence of damage from Harvey either. I could have done a lot worse in choosing my course this week.

I'm going to take the lazy route again and simply state that I shot a 3-over 74 that felt worse that the score. Yeah, I've said that plenty in the past but that's just how I feel. The tees I played were just under 6000 yards, fairly short even when taking into account that the track was a par-71. I kept the ball in play most of the day, which always helps, but I noticed that I wasn't hitting the irons as well as I had been recently. I also pitched in for par (!) on the 13th hole so that saved at least one stroke, if not two.

Sure, I did plenty of things right. I made a few putts, I didn't suffer from any of those recent shanking issues in the short game and I avoided serious trouble all day. I wouldn't say the course was overly easy, despite its short length from the tees I played there were some bad spots to avoid out there. I guess now would be a good time to share some pictures of the place :

The par-3 second at La Torretta

A view of the green on the par-4 fourth

The rather large green at the par-5 ninth

The par-3 11th, complete with a sucker pin placement

The green of what is likely the signature hole, the par-4 15th

The approach to the par-5 18th
I had two birdies on the day, one was on the 15th hole (shown in the above pictures). I finally started hitting the irons a little better by then and knocked a 9-iron to within three feet there. I also birdied the first hole, a short dogleg-left par-5 that forced me to hit 3-wood off the tee. I hit another 3-wood just left and short of the green, from there I pitched to about 10 feet and made the putt.

As for the other holes in the pictures I bogeyed the second when I missed the green right and couldn't get up and down. On the fourth I was short with a wedge, leaving it on the fringe. I hit a decent chip but missed the putt. I parred the ninth after deciding not to chance a run at the green in two despite being about 210 yards away. I hit a good drive but it was left of optimal since trees partially blocked my view. I was in the fairway but had a downhill lie and just didn't feel comfortable. With water short and what looked like out of bounds right I just elected to punch a 7-iron down the fairway and hit a lob wedge onto the green.

After a bogey on the deceptively long par-4 tenth I managed to par the 11th hole despite leaving a 9-iron dangerously short. I made the fringe and got up and down fairly easily but hitting that 9-iron about 10 yards short was disappointing. As I mentioned, I chipped in for par on the 13th and birdied the 15th around two pars. I would then make pars the rest of the way, including a nice up and down on the 18th after I hit my gap wedge too far on my third shot. I didn't even realize that I shot even par 35 on the back until after I was finished. I definitely played better on the back, especially the last five holes, so once I looked back on the round it did feel about right.

Still, it was disappointing that I ended up falling into the bad habits I was trying to break. Even though I was definitely trying to take the club back more upright I am still finding a way to come in steeply to the ball like I was before. My ball wasn't always drifting to the right like it had before but it certainly lost some of the power I was getting in the last few weeks. I need to get back to concentrating on getting that club back to the inside on the way down. Changes are hard.

We'll keep at it since, well, I like playing golf. I hit some balls last night and did a better job at attacking the ball from the inside and liked what I saw. Maybe I'll eventually remember how to do it on the course.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Going North to West Fork.

For my latest endeavor I drove up to Conroe and played West Fork Golf & Country Club. The place sorta reminded me of a few places in rural Central Florida as many of holes were framed by trees or had a short forced carry over some type of grass or wetland area (which you should be able to see in the pictures). Harvey did a number on the place in regards to the traps and greens as all of the traps were under repair and the greens were VERY slow and had some rough spots, which made putting a bit of a challenge.

Despite the conditions, I enjoyed the course itself. Not overly difficult but you can find a few bad places as you made you way around. The fairways seemed wide enough on most holes, though in a couple of places I had a tough time trying to figure out exactly which line to take (admittedly I seem to find a few holes like that every time I play).

I think I'm going to go about this post differently than I have in the recent past. I never intended the blog to be a blow-by-blow account of every round I've played, that just seems too specific to me. That's not to say I might not do it again for a particularly good (or bad) round or if I happen to play an outstanding course. None of those reasons factor in here for this round, at least I don't think so. I shot 79, which is pretty good but not remarkable. Considering that I had two doubles and a triple in that 79, well, 15 good holes isn't shabby either.

The front nine was fairly outstanding as I shot a 1-over 37. I hit six fairways, eight greens and had two birdies. I also had a three-putt bogey after a horrible sand wedge approach on the par-5 third. The main blemish was a pulled 4-iron on the 181-yard par-3 fifth. I ended up hitting a second ball about 12 feet from the hole but I fully expected to find and play the first ball... but I never did find the bastard. I can only assume it settled down in the grass to a point that I just couldn't see it. So the second ball went into play and I two-putted for double. One bad swing...

The back nine was more haphazard. I doubled the tenth despite being 110 yards from the green after my drive. I misjudged my wedge and left it a bit short, semi-skulled the pitch long and three putted from there, though that green was pretty hairy. I croqueted that fucker, the ball made that "whoosh" sound like a jet taking off as it fought its way through the grass... and still ended up 10 feet short. Brutal, but shit happens.

My other disaster was on the short par-4 13th. This was one of the holes that I wasn't sure where to go from the tee. Hell, I couldn't decide what to hit. Was it 4-iron? 3-wood? Driver? I decided on 5-wood as I figured that should leave me around 80-100 yards to the green. Well, I pulled it a bit and discovered the hard way that 5-wood was too much and found the trees through the bend of this dogleg right. I found the ball but it was unplayable (penalty stroke one). I pitched out and still had 50 yards to the green. I then semi-bladed the lob wedge long, where I found a hazard (penalty stroke two). At least I got up and down for a 7, so there's that.

I hit a couple more less than stellar shots after that, the first on my attempted layup on the par-5 14th (pushed into another hazard) and the second on the 15th (a 6-iron pushed way right that still found the fringe of the green somehow). I did finish the back nine with four straight pars, including two pretty decent looks at birdie on the last two. I ended up with a 42 on the back to get that 79 I mentioned. Like I said, not bad overall but it really could have been better by avoiding those big numbers.

Over the course of the round I'd say I hit six really poor shots and all of them ended up costing me by resulting directly in a penalty or putting me in a really bad spot. I only got away with one, the pushed 6-iron, as I did get up and down for par there. Of course, I had some really good shots also. I hit several solid drives during the day, in fact I'd say that only that pulled 5-wood was truly wayward. I birdied the second hole after hitting an 8-iron to about 3 feet, that felt good. That second ball on the fifth might have been the best swing of the day (too bad it had to count). Considering that I was trying to change my swing path I'd say the day went pretty well. Sure, I had plenty of swings that had that right-hand hit reflex in it but I could definitely feel the newer swing path on quite a few others.

Now I'll post some pictures of the course. Hopefully I can remember what hole is what :

A view from the tee on the par-4 second

The par-3 fifth (trust me, the green is up there somewhere)

A look at the par-4 seventh

The par-3 eighth (my other birdie hole)

From the fairway of the par-5 ninth

The par-3 12th hole

From the tee of the par-5 14th hole

The 16th green

The green on the par-5 finishing hole
As I mentioned before, West Fork has plenty of trees and wetland-type areas defining the holes while having very few homes along the course. Its a bit rough around the edges, especially after the storm, however I don't think that this is the kind of place that has incredible conditions on a regular basis. A couple of the holes reminded me of the now-defunct Rock Springs Ridge in Apopka, especially the 15th hole with its uphill approach to the green. I'm sure the fairways have been better (not that they were awful) and the greens need time to recover. I'll definitely come back and see what the place looks like later in the year or sometime next.

As far as my game goes, I'm pretty happy with the progress so far. The swing feels... weird. I'd swear that I have this exaggerated figure-8 loop in my swing but if you see it in a video it almost looks... normal. Video doesn't lie, in fact it tells me I actually need to "exaggerate" it more in order to get it where it needs to be. That's gonna take some work, in fact it might be a good thing that my Jacksonville trip has been delayed another month just for that reason alone.

In fact, I might not even play this weekend. I might just try to simply work on this path thing for a solid 7-10 days before considering playing again. If I do play I might keep it local, perhaps I'll try Cypress Lakes again since its the course that I'm most familiar with. That place seems to have become my "home course" as that's where I've been going to practice ever since Harvey hit. The course is decent, the practice areas are good enough and while its not a high-end country club type of place its by no means a dump either.... its "comfortable" to me. I can go practice in just a regular shirt and gym shorts and they don't seem to mind. My kind of style.

OK, I'm done. Go about your business.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Clear Creek Golf Club

Saturday I headed a bit further south and found a place called Clear Creek Golf Club, a public course that seems to be adjacent to a parl of some sort. The place seemed pretty open much like a links course would be. After a decent warmup on the range and on the putting green I got to tee off around 12:30. At the time it seemed like I had the place to myself but we all know that rarely lasts.

Anyway, the first hole is a par-4 that has a creek crossing the fairway short of the green. I couldn't really tell how close that creek was but I eventually decided to hit 3-wood, just to be safe... and that was a wise decision as I ended up just about 20-25 yards short of the water. Unfortunately I either pushed or misaligned myself with my gap wedge and missed the green right and failed to get up and down so we started off with a bogey. Nothing tragic happened though.

The second is a par-4 that wanders left around a fairway bunker. The tee had to be up a bit on this day. I hit a very solid drive but I only had 100 yards left on a 400 yard hole. My approach to the green looked like this :

The second green at Clear Creek
This time I hit the gap wedge a little left and long but I was putting for birdie from about 25-30 feet. I had to come up over a rise in the green, making that putt tough to stop by the hole, a task that I failed to accomplish. I made the 6-footer for par so no damage done this time.

After hitting another solid drive that just missed the fairway left on the par-5 third I decided to go for the green from an iffy lie, probably something I shouldn't have tried with a 3-wood. I ended up hole-high to the right of the green as I hit an ugly low runner that just kinda kept stumbling forward. The pitch was nice but a little long, maybe 12-15 feet past the hole. Two putts gives me par.

I followed that up with pars on the par-4 fourth hole and the par-3 fifth. I pulled a 3-wood left on the fourth but hit a nice gap wedge from a ball-above-my-feet lie to about 20 feet past the hole. I then hit a nice 6-iron onto the green on the par-3, starting at the center of the green and drawing a bit toward the flag, again ending up about 20 feet past the hole.

On the par-5 sixth I hit another drive solid but a hade left, again just missing the fairway. After punching a 5-iron out of a haggard lie I only had about 100 yards to a back pin location on the green, shown below :

The approach to the green on the sixth hole
Gap wedge in hand, I tried to play out to the right of the pin but ended up leaving it out too far right, finding the fringe. I was only about 25 feet from the hole but I was on the wrong side of a ridge that ran through the green. The chip was hit as well as I could execute it but there was just no way I could get that ball to stop around the hole from where I was. I then missed the 8-footer for par. I felt I gave one away here, that pushed wedge cost me. The putt for par wasn't all that good either, I had been rolling it pretty well until then.

Anyway, that brings us to the par-3 seventh :

The short par-3 seventh hole at Clear Creek
The pin was on the front-right of the green so I only had a 9-iron in. While it felt solid I again pushed it to the right a little. Well, either that or I'm aiming that way today. At least I wasn't hitting those annoying weak leakers like I had been. Though I was short-sided again I hit an excellent chip for a tap-in par.

The eighth hole was another confusing tee shot, like the first. Its just 300 yards or so but has a big fairway bunker on the right side of the fairway. The fairway looks like it scurries around that same trap also. I didn't know if I should hit driver over it, hit 3-wood over the left side of it. I ended up hitting 4-iron left of the trap completely, not being sure where I'd end up with the other clubs. I pulled it a little, ending up just off the left side of the fairway, making the hole play longer. With 140 yards left to the hole from the rough I hit 8-iron and finished 25 feet past the pin, a really nice shot to be honest. Two putts for par and I was happy, though I left the birdie putt a shade short.

We close out the front nine with the 416-yard par-4 ninth :

Water protects the right side of the ninth green at Clear Creek
The hole is technically a dogleg left and I couldn't really figure out the right line to take off the tee. I picked a tree just right of the 150-pole and took a hack at it. I hit it about perfect, right at that tree, but ended up going through the fairway by about two yards. Still, I only had 170 yards to a back pin location that I really had no desire to challenge, especially considering the wet stuff to the right. I hit 5-iron about 20 feet left of the hole, slightly past the pin and onto the fringe. Again, I was on the wrong level, this time I was above the hole and needed to coax my ball down a slope to the hole. I decided to putt from the fringe this time and managed to get within a foot to the left of the cup. I was happy to take a par and finish the front nine in 38.

By this time it looked like I was catching up to the pack in front of me. There was a single immediately ahead of me ever since the fifth hole but I had been pacing myself well enough to avoid any delays. After a small wait, I hit 3-wood right at my target in the distance but again picked the wrong line, this time being two yards through the fairway on the dogleg right 10th hole. After a solid wedge to the green I had about 15 feet for birdie from above the hole, which somehow ended up being short. I had no idea how that ball stopped on that slope but a par is always good to me.

The guy ahead of me was waiting on the 11th tee so I joined him since there was a rather slow-moving threesome ahead of him. I'm not sure if this threw off my rhythm or what, but I hit my worst drive of the day here, pushing it to the right for the first time off the tee. Being a par-5 I had the chance to recover but my 5-iron from the rough didn't come out to clean. Now I had about 160-165 yards to the green, shown here :

The green of the par-5 11th hole
There is water crossing the fairway short of the green and again I had a somewhat iffy lie in the right hand rough. I decided on 6-iron and while I caught it clean I hit it a shade thin and ended up hitting the hump just short of the green and sticking there. I was only 20 feet from the hole but I had about 10 feet of rough to clear before getting to the surface. Fortunately the shot was slightly uphill, which allowed me to be aggressive and hit a firm chip to about two feet, saving par. That hole just felt like it could have been a lot worse.

We then came to the longest par-3 on the course, the 195-yard 12th. The tee was up quite a bit but the hole was cut back left. Still, the hole was 175 away and there was plenty of trouble left. I decided to hit 5-iron, thinking short was best to the back hole location. I hit another solid iron shot, much like on the fifth hole earlier. The ball hit the green on the back side and just trickled off onto the fringe again, leaving me with another downhill chip to the hole from about 30 feet away. This time the slope wasn't too severe but I gave it too much respect regardless of that fact and I left it about 10 feet short. I will still swear I made the putt even though I know it went around the hole... that ball looked good all the way there. Even now I feel like crying about it. The poor chip was to blame though.

The 13th was the longest par-5 on the course, measuring about 550 yards. My drive was again very solid but this time I didn't get the same draw or hook that I had been getting and I caught the edge of the fairway bunker on the right side. The recent flooding had washed out all of the traps so they were playing as ground under repair, as was evident here as all the sand was gone and the edges of the bunkers were washed out and my ball had settled underneath it. After a drop I laid up with 5-wood and then hit gap wedge onto the green, again just a bit past the hole. I missed the downhill 15-footer but a par is good.

I'm just now thinking to mention something about all of the putts I've had so far today and that is that every single one of them had some degree of a left-to-right break to them. Every. One. Like most right-handed players I don't do as well on those as I would on putts that scamper right-to-left. While I wasn't making too many I felt that I was making good passes at the ball so I'm not sure it mattered that much in the end. Still, after 13 holes I would have thought I'd have mixed in SOME variety.

Anyway, the 14th was the last par-3 of the day, today playing at about 145 yards. I hit 8-iron solid but a little left of the hole, safely on the green... or so I thought. The ball looked like it hit hole-high but it must have caught the slope of the green and ran off the back, stopping on the fringe. I did hit the shot a little lower than usual but I think that the ball would have normally stopped pretty quickly. I was about 30 feet from the hole but it was uphill (and yes, left-to-right again). I decided to putt and thought I might have struck it a bit too firm, instead I left myself about 4 feet short for par. Again, left-to-right, but I convinced my Titleist to roll in for par. That was probably the best putt I hit all day considering the break that was in that thing. On to the 15th!

After hitting yet another strong drive that ended up going through a fairway on the line I hit it on, I had to drop from a fairway bunker into the rough again. I seriously considered playing from the trap as I had a perfect lie but I decided to (1) play by the local rule and (2) save my club from potential damage from the exposed rocks and pebbles in the base of the bunker. I had a pitching wedge left but not quite a full shot with it as I only had about 110 yards to the pin. I was tempted to see if I could muscle a gap wedge there since what little wind we had was at my back but another trap was right in line short of the green. I took a little too much off but cleared the trap and left myself with about 20-25 feet for birdie, which I missed on the low side... to the right. Again. By this time it was a running gag between me and my playing partner, even to the point that all of HIS putts were left-to-right as well. I cursed the poor man.

By this time the threesome ahead of us was simply stuck in neutral or something. We ended up waiting long enough for another single to join us, making our happy party a threesome as well. After a bit of a wait we finally could play the short par-4 16th :

The view from the 16th tee at Clear Creek
Again, I was lost regarding what club to hit and where to hit it. My first playing partner told me about the falloff from the fairway to the left and about how far he thought the fairway ran out to the right but it didn't help too much. I ended up using 5-wood, which I rarely do off the tee. Since 4-iron seemed to be too short and 3-wood was decidedly too much I really didn't have another choice short of just ripping driver and chasing it down wherever it ended up. Anyway, I picked a line and hit a shot just left of said line, which ended up being 2 feet left of where the fairway actually was. No big deal, I made a good swing. Now I had about 90 yards left to a front hole location. Since I was in the rough I didn't want to try hitting a hard sand wedge, I've been using 85 yards as my max on that club and I didn't want to be short of an up pin. So we tried to choke down on a gap wedge instead.

The swing seemed good despite the ball drifting slightly right of the hole. The problem was I still managed to hit it about 10-15 yards too far, flying that front portion of the green and nearly ended up across the cart path. The lie was a bit narly, sitting down, and I had to try and pitch my ball up in the air if I was going to get it to stop somewhere near the hole. Perhaps it was the lie, perhaps not, but a semi-shanked it for the first time today. I truly think it was the lie, I didn't get that same "oh shit, WTF was that?" feeling that I had on those other adventures. The fact remains that I still had a tough up and down from where I was and I couldn't convert. My putt was pretty awful, I think I actually scuffed it before striking the ball. Double bogey here put me at 3-over for the nine and 5-over on the day. Rats.

The next hole is a par-4 that had a slight dogleg left to it. Some sort of hazard was on the right and would eventually cut across the fairway in front of the green. This time I had room for driver and I finally found a line that allowed my ball to stay in a fairway. I thin proceeded to hit the worst iron shot of the day, pushing a weak wedge onto the fringe short of the green. I made amends for the poor showing on the last hole by nearly holing out the chip for birdie, which made me feel a LOT better about myself.

On to the last hole, the 405-yard par-4 18th hole. There was water left but any type of good drive should clear that without issue, which was a good thing since I again hit my drive with a bit of a pull/hook. My ball hit the cart path at a point that seemed to be really close to the edge of the fairway, taking a huge bounce and disappearing over a hill. My impression was that I didn't hit the ball all that far left, later I'd discover that the fairway did kinda wander a little right at that point. I simply didn't think that part of the hole was reachable from the tee.

Anyway, eventually I found my ball in the left rough just 100 yards from the green so that bounce gave me quite a boost. I had about 110 yards to the hole and another hook lie so I tried to knock down a pitching wedge again. This time the shot came out nearly perfect, ending up slightly past the hole and to the right. I had about 12 feet down a steep slope for birdie, but this time the putt was going to break RIGHT-TO-LEFT. Finally! I now had a putt within a reasonable range that I actually might feel more comfortable with! I can make this! So what do I do? I hit it too hard and missed it high.

With a closing par I shot 77 so I came away pretty pleased. I only hit three (!) fairways but it felt like 10 or 11 with how solidly I hit those drives. I only had one drive that was poor (on 11) and I did hook a 3-wood left (on 4) but other that that the rest was reasonable at worst. I hit nine greens but found the fringe several times. Overall I played pretty well, definitely better than Falcon Point, and I felt like I made some progress with the irons, in particular some of the mid-irons I hit on the par threes.

Despite that, I know I'm coming over the top too much and coming in way too steep. On Monday I finally decided to give one of the local teaching pros a shot and had a lesson with Brian Smith over at Cypress Lakes. He had me do a drill that makes me feel like I was swinging like Jim Furyk or Lee Trevino. Not that extreme perhaps, surely much more like Trevino and his post-back issues swing but without the aiming to the left. In any case, I definitely felt like I was taking the club outside on the backswing then having to reroute to the inside coming down, swinging out to the "right" as I came into the ball.

I went to the range with that idea today and I could feel a difference after hitting a number of short swings with this drill. I hit full shots while trying to complete the same move and I liked what I saw. I'm a little concerned about taking it out on the course since its so different from what I was doing, but considering that my current swing is clearly not optimal what do I really have to lose? I'll hit the range at least one more time and then we'll give it a go on Sunday. I might shoot 73, I might fail to break 90. Either way, it'll be fun.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A tough day at Falcon Point.

In the category of "two steps forward, one step back" I present my round at The Club at Falcon Point. Sometimes when you try to break old habits and form new ones the old habits not only win out but they take revenge. That's kinda how I feel about some of what happened here.

After hitting some range balls to warm up I went to the first tee feeling somewhat fine about how things might go. My biggest concern was hitting it left with this stronger grip I've been adjusting to but for the most part I thought things would work themselves out. However, once I teed the ball up I felt a little uncomfortable with the way the hole looked to me :

The view from the first tee at Falcon Point
The water didn't bother me too much, but I wondered just how far into the fairway it might come back around. What bothered me even more was the houses on the left, especially with my previously posted corcern. For whatever reason they just looked too close to the line I thought I had to play. Naturally, I hooked it right into said houses. My second ball was right and I thought for a moment it could end up being wet but when I got to the ball it was actually in perfect position on the right side of the fairway. I had more room than I thought. I ended up hitting the next shot short, shanked a chip but then managed to nearly hole out the next chip and took a triple bogey. Great start.

The second hole is a little par-3 that has a double green shared with the fourth hole :

The second hole, complete with double green
 Playing no more than a pitching wedge, I still managed to miss the green short and right. I don't think it was a bad swing, more horrible alignment. The hole was cut in a ridiculous spot though. I don't think it was more than six feet from the back fringe, perched on a little hill with a tiny plateau. At least I was chipping nearly straight up that hill... except I shanked that one too. I ended up on the green, though whether it was considered to be on the second or the fourth green is up for debate. For this angle I had zero chance of getting the ball to settle close to the hole. I then missed the ten footer for bogey and walked away five-over after two holes.

I hit my first decent shot of the round off the tee on the par-4 third. The 6-iron approach was decent but caught thin so I ended up a little short of the green. I proceeded to only semi-shank that chip and from there got down in two for a bogey. We're gradually getting better! The trend continued with a par on the fourth hole as I hit a good drive and a decent 7-iron to the green. Two putt pars are welcome at anytime, especially at this point.

We then come to the screwy par-5 fifth hole, shown below :

A look at the fifth green from the fairway
The hole is short for a par-5, granted. However, the view you see is from where I hit my drive off the tee... with a 4-iron. Another ten yards and I'd have been in the hazard. From here, its 210 or so yards to the green protected by traps and water short. Since I was blessed with a downhill lie I figured there was no way I could hit a fairway metal high enough to clear the water so I laid up with a punch 7-iron to the peninsula there. I had 67 yards left to the hole, I'm thinking my lob wedge should be perfect here since the pin was back and I shouldn't be able to hit it long. So, I hit it long, right over the flag. The chip was difficult since I now short-sided myself but I at least executed it probably, just landing a little short and sticking on the fringe. I still only had about 10 feet left and made the putt for par.

The sixth hole at Falcon Point
The wind was starting to pick up a bit more by this time but I managed hit a good drive at the sixth. I had about 135 yards left and figured I'd need to play it more like 150 so I hit 7-iron. Finally I felt a solid iron shot and ended up about 15 feet left of the hole. A near miss for birdie gave me a solid par and hopes that maybe I could salvage the day yet.

The par-3 seventh hole
A solid 5-iron that ended up being pushed by the wind about 20-25 feet to the left of the hole on the par-3 seventh led to my fourth straight par. The eighth would end that string as I hooked my drive left and I was lucky to be able to punch out close enough to the green to give myself a short pitch and a chance for par, which I missed. Bogey wasn;t bad from where I ended up off the tee though.

The ninth is a par-5 that doglegs left around a water hazard and also has water short and right of the green. I forget to get a pic of either view (in fact, I forgot to take a few pics on the back nine also). I hit a great drive, however it ends up that it was 20 yards too far and it went through the fairway. Luckily I had a shot back to the fairway, though I had to clear the hazard to get to it. My shot came out lower that I hoped but I cleared the water, wedged onto the green and gathered in a par to shoot 43 on the front, which I guess could have been quite a bit worse.

I then showed signs of further recovery on the back nine by parring the first three holes. The tenth hole had another strange hole position, cut into the side of a hill that gave you a near zero chance of ending up close to the hole without hitting it or something. I managed to coax my 8-foot par putt in on that one though. On the 11th I hit another wedge, this time a sand wedge, right over the flag but over the green. The chip was good but ran a little longer than I thought it would but I made the putt there also. I hit what might have been the best drive of the day on the par-5 12th as I had a 5-iron into the green. I pushed it right into the trap, then blasted it out of the wet sand across the green. Good shot, I just misjudged how much the sand would affect the shot. My chip hit the flag and I had a tap-in for par.

The wind was swirling around the entire time but by now it was getting pretty strong. I mis-clubbed on the par-3 13th and failed to get up and down and took my first bogey on the back side. From here, things started to fall apart. I hit my next drive solid but left and found myself among a bunch of bushes of some type, I have no idea what they are called. I found the ball and had a blind shot to a green protected by water left. I hit it solid but one of the bush-thingys grabbed it and deflected it short and left. I pitched up from there and two-putted for bogey.

The 15th played back into the wind and my drive wasn't too solid. I couldn't see it immediately after I hit it but I have to assume I got under it a little bit as it only went about 180 yards, leaving me about 210 yards into the green. I tried to get there with 3-wood but it tailed off to the right and found another one of these bush-thingys... and disappeared. This thing wasn't far off the edge of the fairway, in fact it was a bit short of the green and probably doesn't normally come into play. Today, it did. After a few minutes of poking and prodding I located my ball, managed to advance it sideways about 10 feet, pitched on and two putts later had a double bogey.

The 16th hole is a par-5 that has water in play at the end of the landing area for the drive and protected the left side of the fairway up toward the green. My drive was solid but hung out right just enough to catch the edge of the fairway bunker. I was only about 220 yards from the green but I had no chance of trying for the green due to the lip of the bunker. I hit a decent shot out with a 5-iron, wedged onto the green and just missed the putt for birdie.

We then come to the 17th hole, an uphill par-3 that played into the wind :

The par-3 17th hole at Falcon Point
With the wind and being uphill the hole turned from a 9-iron into a 7-iron. Unfortunately I left it out to the right and found yet another one of those bushes, which you can kinda see past the bunker on the right. I was pin high but dead as I was under the bush like I was on the 15th. I manged to move it about 5 feet, pitched up and missed the bogey putt. A promising start to the nine was being wasted.

The 18th is a par-4 that was playing into the wind and at 410 yards posed a problem on the second shot. I hit a good drive but still had about 185 yards to the hole. The green was protected by water to the right and in front, but by how much I wasn't completely sure. The pin was in the front left of the green but due to the wind and the water I felt it was too risky to try to get there. So I laid up with a 7-iron, nearly going too far and into the water. From here I could see that I had more room left than I thought and the water didn't come in front of the green quite as much as I suspected. Despite that, laying up was probably at least a coin flip compared to going for it. Anyway, I pitched on but missed the 12 footer for par to shoot 43 on the back and carded an 86 for the day.

In hindsight, yeah, maybe I didn't have as many bad swings as I thought. The ones I did have certainly found bad places though, which to be honest they really haven't done so all that much lately. The start I had didn't exactly put me in a confident mood. The wind played into it and some of the hole positions didn't help either. Overall, I liked the course. While it does have some quirky things about it, like how they use and set up some of those weird bushes, I tend to like quirky stuff (which is why I love course by Mike Strantz, like True Blue in Myrtle Beach).

Since playing here on Sunday I've messed around on the range and stuff and I think I figured out the shanking of the chips. I think its a matter of how I've been moving my shoulders into the ball, which is something I tend to do incorrectly on full shots, which leads to those weak leaking shots that fall off to the right. On the full shots I guess I have enough time and hand-eye coordination to recover with my hands enough to sometimes hit the ball somewhat straight, on the chip it ends up clanking off the hozel instead. So now I've been trying to correct that issue with all my swings and, so far, things look promising. I feel like I'm coming over the top, but not exactly... I'll never be able to explain it. I'll play again on Saturday so we'll see if we can make some progress on these issues. If not, we'll have to try using sorcery again to post a decent score.