Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A solo run at Meadowbrook Farms.

This past Sunday I decided to play another course out toward Katy, Meadowbrook Farms Golf Club. I was originally set up to play with three random people but the starter said I could go it alone if I was ready to it the first tee, so I took advantage. This enabled me to play in just about three hours, which was great considering that I took my time in the heat. Whether it was using a towel to dry off, putting a glove on, using the rangefinder or taking pictures there are some things that take a while to do. The best thing was I wasn't waiting for anything but myself.

After a routine par on the first hole we came to the second, which actually wasn't much different from the first, maybe just a little longer :

The second green at Meadowbrook Farms
I hit a great drive, maybe about 250, and then hit a wedge about 15 feet past the hole. I misread the putt for birdie but the tap-in gave me a par. So far I've hit four solid shots and I'm quite happy with the swing keys I'm using today.

The third hole is a par-4 that turned into a crosswind from left to right, not my favorite. My drive was pushed a bit and missed the fairway to the right but fortunately not so poorly that I was at risk of finding the hazard :

The third green as seen from right of the fairway
 I had about 165 yards to a back pin so with that crosswind I elected to hit 5-iron. From what I could tell I think my ball landed about pin-high or maybe a little past, however it didn't hold and I ended up long. My chip was too strong and two-putted for bogey. The 5-iron swing felt really nice though so I wasn't unhappy about it overall.

I then butchered the par-5 fourth. I was just left of the green in two and then semi-shanked a pitch. Another underwhelming effort left me on the fringe where I managed to get down in two for a bogey. I still haven't figured out why I do that, its kinda like rolling a 1 on a 20-sided die with those shots. Its irritating for sure.

After a solid par on the par-4 fifth I came to the first par-3 of the day at the sixth :

The sixth at Meadowbrook Farms
With the wind coming in at a decent clip from the right and maybe slightly into my face I went with an 8-iron for this 135-yard shot. I pulled it left a bit and the wind made it worse. I ended up above the trap to the left somewhere, effectively short-siding myself. Unlike the episode at the fourth, I hit a great pitch here and tapped in for par. I felt as if I redeemed myself as I moved on to the seventh hole :

The seventh green, as seen from my position from the fairway
My drive here was solid as well, giving me an outside shot at going for it in two... or so I thought. After checking the card I realized that the hazard in front would prevent any reasonable chance so I laid up and wedged on to about 10-12 feet for birdie. I missed that one also but easy pars are always welcome. On to the eighth hole, a par-3 thats exposed to the wind :

The isolated look of the eighth green
No bunkers but water hazards surround an elevated green that is out in the open. That open green made the wind more prevalent here, which today was dead in my face. I guessed 8-iron again but this time I guessed right and nearly jarred it, landing about a foot past the hole and ended up maybe 18-inches away for a kick-in deuce. That swing felt very solid, in fact all of the irons I've hit so far have felt better than most anything I've hit in the last few months.

I then hit my worse drive of the day on the ninth, weakly flailing it off to the right into the wind. I then hit a solid 4-iron just past the green, staying on the fringe. I was still about 40 feet left of the hole and had to chip over about 15 feet of said fringe as I was at an odd angle with the back of the green. The chip was decent but not that great and I missed the putt and made bogey. However, I shot 38 on the front, a score I'll gladly take.

I forgot to take a photo on the tenth but it was an odd short par-4 that dogleged right. I could figure out what to hit off the tee for the life of me. I tried 5-wood and hit it well but went through the fairway anyway. I was lucky enough that I still had a shot to the green. My wedge was a bit long but I managed to get down in two putts from about 35 feet for par.

On to the eleventh, another shortish par-4 that had me wondering what to do. I considered just hitting driver but the water down the left side looked as if it would come into the fairway a bit so I went with 3-wood instead. I snapped it left, over the trap and into some tall weed-like grass. I hacked it out toward the green, pitched up to about 5 feet but missed the putt. That would have been a nice save but it was not to be today. Next up is the par-5 twelfth :

The 12th hole. as seen from the tee
This hole wrapped back around the same lake as the previous one. My drive was solid, though it ended up hitting the fairway and kicking a bit right and ended up in the rough. I had a good lie so going for this green was possible. While it was uphill (one of few shots that had any noticeable elevation changes) I only had about 230 yards to the green from what I could tell so I took a shot at it with my 3-wood. I caught the ball a little heavy though and left myself about 45 yards to the pin. Partial wedge shots can be pretty iffy but I managed to get this one right, putting the ball about five feet away for birdie. I made this one and had my second birdie of the day.

After a par on the par-4 13th hole (where I hit yet another really solid-feeling iron shot) I came up on a foursome that until now hadn't been in my way. Fortunately they waited for me on the tee and let me play through immediately on the par-3 14th, shown here :

The 150-yard par-3 14th at Meadowbrook Farms
The pin was up and the wind seemed down so I selected a 9-iron. I pulled it a bit but still ended up on the green, slightly past the pin. I left the 40-foot birdie putt about 5 feet short but I was able to make that for par, keeping myself at even par for the back side. I then came up another short par-4 at the 15th, but it was playing REALLY short, like 240 yards short, as seen here :

The driveable par-4 15th at Meadowbrook Farms
Well, the card says its 260. The GPS in the cart said it was 239 to the middle, though the cart wasn't next to my tee box. The wind was coming off the left but wasn't hurting so I said "fuck it" and grabbed my driver. I ended up here :

See the white dot in the right-middle of the lower left quadrant? That's where my drive ended up on the 15th hole
From what I could tell my ball landed on the green somewhere around the hole. I forgot to look for a ballmark (shame on me!) but the ball bounced and/or rolled off the back of the green. The chip wasn't easy but I could have done better than eight feet, I wasn't too pleased with it to be honest. All was forgiven after I made the putt though! I'm now one-under for the back and just one-over for the day.

Another good drive led to a solid 7-iron approach into the par-4 16th, where I two-putted from 20 feet for another par. The 17th hole came next :

The short but somewhat dangerous 17th hole
The card has it at 125 yards but the front pin had it playing about 112 yards, an awkward distance. The wind was from the right so that wasn't helping matters much. I definitely can't get gap wedge there so I had no choice but to choke down a little on the pitching wedge and give it a go. This was my worst iron swing of the day, at least as far as contact goes. I caught it a shade heavy and ended up short but on target. The chip was fairly simple but I didn't hit it quite hard enough and left myself about four feet for par. The putt was uphill and I was able to handle it and escape with par.

That brings us to the closing hole, the par-5 18th. I hit another strong drive, the wind helping from the left. The problem was that I hit it too far and ended up through the fairway, leaving me with a downhill and sidehill lie from here :

The view of the 18th green
The bottom of the picture didn't quite catch it but there is a creek running across the fairway. I'm on one side, the rest of the hole is on the other. A lateral hazard is in those tress you see to the right. The good news was that I only had about 210 yards to the flag and I had plenty of room left and long. I decided to be aggressive and go with a 3-wood. Realizing that I'd be losing loft I figured I'd need the extra club to get up to the elevated green. There was only one problem.

I suck at downhill-sidehill lies with my 3-wood.

I was lucky to get over the creek. I don't know if I hit it heavy or if the ball just shot itself down into the rough on the other side and just stopped. Well, it did manage to bounce out far enough to get into some manageable grass but I was now about 165 yards away. I still had a chance to hit the green with 5-iron, thinking the wind, the lie and the elevation pretty much cancelled out. There was only one problem.

I hit the damn thing too well.

I might have hit the green on the fly but I think it actually landed on the fringe and then kicked into the rough over the green. It wasn't an awful shot, in fact I was only about 15 feet left of the hole so the line I took was pretty good. I wasn't grossly over either, I was still only about 25-30 feet or so from the hole, maybe. The swing was good, I guess I only needed a 6-iron on this one. If that keeps up it'll be a good problem to have.

The chip wasn't easy. I had a downhill lie. The green was uphill to the hole but just past it the green sloped away again. I had to hit the ball into that hill and have it just run up with just enough speed so it could settle around the hole before it could scamper away. I figured my best chance to do that was with my lob wedge, which is a shot I commonly like to hit around the greens anyway. The was only one problem.

I couldn't spin it enough to check up.

I had to hit it pretty firmly so that I'd get the ball to check up, the problem was with the downhill lie and the iffy lie I couldn't catch it cleanly enough, or so I suppose. I think I also hit it too far and landed the ball too far up on the hill. Naturally it rolled past the hole about 12 feet or more, leaving me an uphill putt for par. I still had a chance but of all things I left it short. I think I would have missed left also but to leave that putt short irked me. I thought I hit it firmly enough but I really should have been sure to get it there.

So, after that disappointing bogey finish I shot even on the back for another 74. Again, the course wasn't long but it was a decidedly "better" 74 than the one last week. The main reason I say that was because of how I hit the ball, everything just felt so much more solid than it had been. I don't know if I hit it that much further but everything was definitely higher, which for me has always been indicative of how well I was doing with the irons.

What did I do differently? Good question. I tried to change how I took the club back in an effort to get myself a little more inside. The bigger deal was on the way down though. I tried to make a concerted effort to lead with my hands to the point that I felt I was getting the handle to the ball first, leading the clubhead into the ball with my hands out in front more instead of flipping my hands at impact. Meh, I'll never explain it here. All I know is that I felt I was able to use my shoulders more and not simply try to hit the ball with arms and hands alone.

Yesterday (which was Tuesday) I went to the range and really tried to get this same feeling. I came away pretty happy by the time I finished. I don't own it yet, far from it, but I was able to repeat and maybe even improve on what I did on Sunday when I did it right. I still hit some of those flailing drifters at times but at least I feel like I have an idea of what I'm trying to do. I'll try again tomorrow or Friday and then see if I can bring it to the course on Sunday. Either that or I'll go down in flames and crawl back to the drawing board. Tune in next week to find out!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The short and long of it at Longwood Golf Club.

I kept it local once again and took the short drive over to Longwood Golf Club right here in Cypress. The have three sets of nines here so I just let the course randomly select the two that I would get to play. I ended up going out on Pine for the front side and finished up on Palmetto. I'll have to come back another time to see what Post Oak has in store.

The day started off with a thunderstorm that popped up just as I finished up with some range balls. After about a 20 minute delay I joined my three playing partners over at the tee. Not really thinking much about it I simply teed up where they were at, which was the Middle tee. On Pine that wasn't a big deal, the Middle plays to 3054 yards while the next tee back is 3311. The Palmetto was quite a bit shorter though (2696), if I could I would have played the Back tees to at least bring the round to over 6000 yards. As it ends up the rain made the course play a good bit longer so in a sense it sorta worked itself out.

The first hole on the Pine nine was a pretty nice place to start:

The first green on Pine
After a good drive that nearly plugged in the fairway, I missed the green just short right. It wasn't an awful shot, the downhill lie caused it to slide off a little more than I thought. I hit a decent chip and made the putt to start off with a par.

A good drive and a 5-iron on the second gave me another par, bringing me to the par-3 third. This hole was playing up and only took a wedge to get hole-high. I made the 15-footer for birdie and suddenly I was 1-under par in the early going. Considering how wet and humid it was I was pretty happy about that.

On the par-5 fourth I hit probably the worst drive of the day, leaving it out weakly to the right. I hit a nice cut 4-iron around a tree and back into play, wedged onto the green and make par. That brings us to the fifth hole :

The par-4 fifth hole on Pine
I hit a solid drive that just ended up missing the fairway left, right next to that trap you see there. I'm not sure what happened on the second shot. Maybe it was the wet grass, maybe I tried to hit it too hard but I pretty much topped-skulled a 7-iron. Weird is the best explanation I have for it. I was lucky to do no worse that bogey here but it took a good putt to get that.

The sixth is a par-4 that plays 375 on the card. I hit what I thought was a pretty solid drive down the left side, however I was slightly blocked out from the left side of the greenm where the pin was. The other thing was I still had 170 yards left. There is no way I hit my drive only 200 yards so I have to think the tee was back at the 415-yard tee box. Anyway, I missed the green right, pitched up but missed the putt for par.

I then missed a 5-footer for birdie and the short par-3 seventh (but I made a good stroke, I just can't read greens). I hit a really good drive on the par-5 eighth, one of the very few holes where I actually got a little bounce and roll. The hole is short (425 yards) and I had just a 5-iron into the green from a slightly ball-above-my-feet lie. I missed the green left but not quite far enough left to hit it in the water that guards the green. A pitch and two putts gives me par.

The closing hole is the long par-4 ninth :

The green of the ninth on Pine
Again, I hit a good drive into a fairway that could have been considered casual water over the entire hole. I still needed 4-iron to reach this green, which I failed to do as I caught it a shade thin. The ball hit just about the left side of the bunker and rolled back in. I blasted out of the hard-packed wet sand and took two putts for a bogey. I still ended up with a 38 for the nine, which I'll take every time. While it sucked to go 3-over on the last five holes I was happy with the way things were going.

Moving to the Palmetto nine, the first hole was a short par-5. I hit a solid drive down the left side and had only 190 yards left to a front pin, however I had a fairly steep downhill lie. I went for the green with a 5-wood anyway, hoping that any low shot would have a chance to scamper up to the green. The plan almost worked, the problem was the slope in front of the green really needed a shot hit with a draw to get up the hill, I can't hit that shot from that lie. Still, I was in front in two and hit my best chip of the day, close enough that I tapped in with my wedge for birdie. Another good start!

However, another storm was closing in. We teed off on the second, a short par-4 with water right, shown here :

The second green on Palmetto
I had about 85 yards left when me and the guy I had in my cart decided that we'd better haul ass back to the clubhouse. Its a decent ride between the first green and the second tee so I marked my ball and boogied back as fast as we could. The wind was howling, the clouds looked ugly and leaves were blowing everywhere... but it never rained. Maybe it did on the course somewhere but at the clubhouse it stayed dry. We waited about 20-30 minutes or so, decided the worst was over and headed back out.

The problem was that the other two guys I was with played on. The guy in my cart wanted to catch up with them as they were all together. By now they were on the adjacent 4th hole so we drove to the tee there and played on. I wasn't too keen with the idea but someone else was already on the fairway at the second so I figured that I'll just come back later, hoping no one would pick up my tee in the fairway where I had marked my ball.

So, the fourth is another short par-5, just 400 yards in length. The thing is, the fairway is nearly cut off right at about 220 yards from the tee, driver is a no-go unless you can thread the needle down the left side. With that, I hit 3-wood/3-wood onto the green and two-putted for another birdie. Yep, I'm 2-under par after two holes completed and even on the day. Here's a look at the hole from the tee, you might barely be able to see where the water comes into play to the right of the trap :

The really short that doesn't play so short par-5 fourth on Palmetto
The next two holes are really short also. The fifth is a 296-yard par-4 that has a sharp dogleg right. Not having any idea what to do I decided to just hit driver over a set of trees. I hit it very well but the ball ended up about 15-20 yards too far, through the fairway, pretty much giving me visions of a hole at Huntington in Florida. Luckily I had a shot to the green, though that shot was one that had to go over/around a tree with a sand wedge to a front hole location. I pulled it off (somehow) and made par.

The next hole was even shorter at 250 yards but it was straight on, quite simply a driveable par-4. Those are fun to try so I honestly have no issue with it, even us shorter hitters should get the chance to hit a hero shot. This is where my second-worst drive of the day was hit. I was nearly pin high but quite a bit right, not awfully so but enough that I had to pitch off of some watered-down hardpan dirtlike stuff. The hole was cut pretty close to the edge of the green and I did well just to get my ball 30-35 feet past the hole. I nearly made it. I hit the back of the hole but it was running downhill and had a shade too much speed to stay in. Still, another par is always good.

Then I blew it on the seventh. Its the longest par-3 of the day and was even playing back a tee. I had 5-iron to this green but pretty much bladed it, better than the one earlier but the wet grass in front of the green just ate it up. My pitch from about 20 yards short of the green was pretty darn good, I had a chance to save par but I missed a six-footer and took my first bogey on Palmetto. Ugh.

After a nice drive on the par-4 eighth I stupidly under-clubbed my approach to a front hole position. I should know better by now. I wasn't short by much at all, maybe a yard, but the ball backed down the hill a bit in the soft conditions. My chip was decent since I was able to take advantage of said soft conditions and got it to check up quickly (probably too quickly) and made the putt to save par.

The ninth is a mid-length par-4 that played a little uphill to the fairway. I hit another good drive and now had 8-iron to a back hole location. I hit it solid but hung it out to the right, catching the green and leaving myself about 25 feet or so for birdie. I coaxed that birdie putt up close enough to knock it in for a par. Now, I just had to kick the old fella out of my cart at his car and run back out to finish the other two holes!

My tee was still in the ground when I got back to the second fairway. All I had left was a full sand wedge and I hit that shot pin-high, just about 5 feet left of the hole. Too bad the ball came back down the hill about 15 feet. Still, I had a makeable putt for birdie that would get me back to 2-under for the side. Nope. Not today. Par is always good so we'll take it and move on!

My final hole of the day ended up being the short par-3 third :

The par-3 third hole on Palmetto
I was in-between a gap wedge and a pitching wedge as the hole was about 110 yards from the tee. Pitching wedge it is then! I hit it clean but I pulled it a little, which caused it to fly a little further than I wanted, which means I ended up in the trap over the green, left of the hole.

I was dead.

The sand in the trap was wet, packed down, and even had grass growing in it. The pin was just a few feet from the edge of a green that was running away from me. I was back in the trap as the ball rolled on the wet sand after popping out of its pitch mark. The only way I was hitting this close was if I hit the flagstick.

So I tried to hit the flagstick. I tried to get some spin on it with my 60-degree but there was no way I could get that ball to stop on that slope. I thought I did well to get it to about 20-25 feet past the hole. There was no way I could chance leaving it short so I had to make sure I was past the flag. Could I have hit it closer? Yeah, I think I could. Give me 10 tries and I believe I could hit the shot with enough precision to clip it just right and have it stop within 10 feet. I just couldn't do it on the first go.

Anyway, I gave the putt a decent run but hit it a little too low and a little too weak to really have a chance. With that bogey I ended up even-par for the side and a 74 on the day. Yeah, it would have been nice to shoot an under-par 9-hole score for the first time in, hmmm, ten, maybe twelve years? I'm pretty sure I can now say that this is the first time I've ever had nine fours in a row. At least I can check off that novelty, right?

OK, the course was only 5750 yards. True, it was playing longer due to the conditions. For a course that short I hit quite a few long irons into some of those greens, especially on the Pine side. On the other hand I had legitimate chances at hitting three of the par-5s in two, one with a 5-iron in hand, and three of the par-3s were no more than a pitching wedge. But a 74 is still a 74, I don't care where you card it. The rating for the course wasn't silly easy (68.0/120) and some of the par-4s are more than sturdy enough. While I didn't have much issue with them this day, the course has a fair amount of water hazards and the trees bordering the fairways are plentiful. My playing partners easily proved that the course isn't some pushover.

I am by no means overpowering anything despite how well I've scored lately. This is all still being down with smoke, mirrors and maybe a little guile (and luck?). The courses I've played haven't exactly been long and that has helped me. I'm still not getting the distance on the irons that I'm hoping for. The course was so wet that I couldn't get a true read on my drives but for the most part they seemed to be solid, though it would have been nice to see where they'd have ended up under more normal conditions. I hit the ball fairly high as it is so I don't get as much roll as some other guys might but I'm sure I lost out on at about 10-15 yards on most holes.

Am I hitting good shots? Yes, obviously I'm doing something right with whatever it is that I'm bringing to the course on any given day. At worst, my bad shots are just not as bad as they could be and that could very well be the biggest difference. Who knows, maybe this is all I have nowadays and I just have to live with it. I can't help but imagine what I might be able to do with some stronger iron shots, shots that I know I still have somewhere inside me. A club shorter into every hole might not sound like much but it could make a difference over the course of a round.

Anyway, the rain has continued through Monday and into today (Tuesday), so much so that we've had flood warnings and such. The courses I like to practice at here were all closed up and it could be more of the same tomorrow for all I know. If I want to get some practice in I might have to hit up Top Golf after the dentist appointment we have tomorrow. Hmm, that sounds like a good idea...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Heading North at BlackHorse.

This week I decided to take on the North course at BlackHorse Golf Club. I enjoyed the South a good deal (not just because of my score there) so I figured the North couldn't be too far behind. I went out at around 1 PM and the heat and humidity were in full force. Even hitting balls on the range was enough to just soak my hands in sweat. I could tell this was going to be an issue.

The first hole was straightforward but pretty long for an opener. My drive wasn't great, I pulled it left and sorta mishit into a fairway bunker. I still had nearly 200 yards left to the green so I decided to try to hit a 5-wood out. I think I hit it solid but a little low, catching the lip of the bunker and almost ended up on the range and out of bounds. I had no shot due to some trees so I pitched out, finally hit the green and took two putts for my double bogey. Not a good start.

The second hole was a short par-3 over water (which I forgot to take a picture of as I was too busy trying to towel off my hands). I didn't hit that incredibly well either but did manage to get the ball pin high and on the right fringe. I got up and down for par easily enough. At this point I knew that this towel shit wasn't going to cut it, I could already tell I was more concerned with just holding on to the club rather than where the ball was going. Fortunately I still had a glove in my bag and decided that it would be best to use it. I have no idea how old this glove is but it seemed to be in good shape.

You might wonder why I make a big deal out of the glove. I just never have liked wearing one, just like some hitters in baseball don't use gloves, neither do I when I play golf. For whaever reason I have always felt like my hands were different on the club, like my grip position was off, and I'll usually start hitting the ball left. When I was in Florida I usually managed to go without one but there were times I had to break down and put one on. I guess I'm going to have to do the same here in Houston.

So, glove on hand, we headed to the par-5 third. I hit a pretty solid drive down the right side of the fairway, so much so that I had inside 200 yards to the green. I didn't notice while on the tee but I'm assuming the tee had to be up as the yardage on the card was 488 yards. I really don't think I hit that ball 290 yards. It was downwind but not 30-40 yards worth. I had about 190 left and decided that with the slight downwind breeze I was going to take a swing at a 4-iron and try to get it there. It worked, though I was a bit left I caught the green and had about 40 feet for eagle. A good two putt earned a birdie. So far so good for the glove idea.

Next was the par-4 fourth, shown below (with what I have to assume is either a drop of sweat or a finger):

(Most of) the view of the fourth hole from the tee
 My playing partners, who both proved to be worthwhile guides, warned me about the hidden water over the bunkers on the right so I hit a near-perfect drive just left of them. The hole on the card is 352 yards and yet I still had about 140 to the middle of the green. I'm sure the tee had to be back. All this means is I wasn't paying enough attention. Anyway, the pin was back so 7-iron was the play. I leaked it right but it held the fringe and a chip and a putt made par.

The fifth was another par-4 that came back around the other side of the water feature on the fourth. I drove the ball well again but then half-skulled the 6-iron from the fairway. Fortunately I hit it fairly straight and ended up on the left side of the green and had about 25 feet for birdie. Two putts from there gave me another par. So far the glove isn't giving me any issues, in fact I could even say its helped me forget about any problems with the sweat on my hands. This could be why I felt like I was finally making more aggressive swings.

The sixth is another par-3 with water, I have a picture this time :

The par-3 sixth hole
The pin was up so it was merely a 9-iron but I caught it slightly fat. We had to wait a while before playing this one as the cart girl took plenty of time to serve the group ahead of us and, naturally, our own. I pitched up to about five feet and made a tricky little downhiller for par. I was quite happy about that one.

The seventh is a shortish par-4 with a severe dogleg right :

A look at the seventh hole
I figured a drive just to the left of the trees would work fine, so instead I pushed it even further right. I didn't push it very far right, just another one that leaked away, but I hit it solid and cleared the trees, ending up in the fairway about 100 yards from the green. I pretty much accidentally hit the perfect shot. What wasn't perfect was the wedge to the green, it was not a solid strike and I left myself about 50-60 feet short to a back hole location on a long, narrow green. Of course, I made it. Birdie. Easy game, isn't it? I'm pretty sure that's the longest putt I've made since I've started back playing again.

The eighth is a par-5 that doglegs to the left a bit. Nothing special to report, just three solid shots and two good putts netted a par. So, I head to the ninth at even par for the round. Of course, I forgot to take a picture but the hole is a par-4 that has water left near the green. I crushed a drive, slightly left of my line but still well within the range of the landing area... or so I thought. Little did I know that the water kinda jutted out a bit, hiding in a valley of land. The water starts about 100 yards from the front of the green and I found mine 99 yards away, but wet. I was not pleased. Well, not pleased that it was in the hazard. I was pleased that I hit that fucker about 260 yards to get there. Anyway, I dropped, hit a wedge to about 7 feet but just missed the par putt to shoot 37 on the front nine. Considering the start I had I'm calling that a win.

The back nine started with my first pulled drive of the day. As luck would have it I had a shot over some shortest trees to the green after taking a drop from the cart path. It was here that I made the swing that felt like a solid iron strike. Maybe it was something about the way I set up to the ball for this shot, I can't explain it. Maybe that glove made me feel I could take a firm swing without worrying about losing control. Whatever it was I almost hit the ball over the green. I was still losing it a little right but it was staying in play. I had another 60 footer for birdie but the odds evened themselves out and I three-putted for bogey.

The par-5 eleventh was a disappointing bogey. My drive was decent enough, the layup was fine, my mistake was on the approach. I didn't take into account the uphill lie I had. I took a solid swipe at it but hit the ball a mile in the air and ended up short. I know better, I should have taken one more club. I hit a little chip that seemed to nearly stop in its own pitch mark and missed the putt. The bogey train was moving along strongly now.

The par-4 12th hole
On the 12th I hit a really solid drive, probably about 250 or so off the tee, leaving me with about 85 yards to a front hole location. I decided to go ahead and try hitting sand wedge, again forcing myself to take a strong pass at the ball. I hit it about 88 yards and slightly left, a good shot that left me about 15 feet or so for a birdie. I nearly made it, in fact I really thought I had it. After several curses I tapped in for par and moved on.

I nearly made a huge mess of the 13th. After another solid drive I ended up leaking another iron shot right, this one was a little more than I had been. However I was past pin high and left myself with a bit of a tricky pitch. The real issue was the lie, the ball decided to settle down in the grass and take a nap. I had a shot but I executed poorly and hit a shitty little semi-shank and left myself with a short pitch to the hole. Fortunately the lie was better and I nearly holed out for par and saved the bogey.

We then came up to the par-3 14th hole, shown here :

The short par-3 14th hole
The hole was playing at about 115 yards but with a crosswind that was starting to freshen up a bit, perhaps even turning into our face a little. I hit pitching wedge and tried to let that wind push it from left to right but naturally I started the ball more at the flag than I wanted and ended up about 30 feet right. Still, two putts for a par gives me a three and I'll take a three on any hole.

The 15th hole is a long par-4 playing with that same left-to-right breeze. Good fortune was with us this day as the tees were up, turning a 417 yard critter into a more manageable 383. I hit my drive solid but left, however it cleared the bunker on that side but settled into the rough. I was left with about 155 yards to a front pin that I knew I would never get close to without having the ball land short of the green and bouncing on. I thought about hitting 7-iron but figured the rough would make it tough to make clean contact so the 6-iron it'll have to be. Again, I was dead-set on making sure I took a lash at it just so I could get to ball out, if anything. I caught it clean, surprising well in fact. I flew the ball to the middle of the green and it ended up in the back, leaving me with another 60 footer. I got down in two for par and left the hole satisfied with that result.

The par-3 16th hole with its sucker-pin on the left of the green
I hit another leaking push with a 5-iron on the par-3 16th, shown above. My ball landed pin high but caught the side of the fringe and bounded away, down a hill and under the branches of a tree that you can barely see on the right side of the photo in the background. Not good. The pin was back left on the green so I wasn't even sure I could keep the ball low enough under the branches and still hit it firm enough to land on the green. Somehow I pulled it off, in fact I managed to put more spin on it that I realized and left the ball short of the hole. I missed the par putt but a bogey there seemed just fine considering where I was earlier.

My drive on the par-4 17th was also a little right but not terribly so, however I thought I might get blocked out by some overhanging tree branches. I managed to get past those and had about 120 yards left to the hole. With that wind now in my face I knew I needed an extra club so out came the 9-iron. I finally managed to not hit that leaker to the right, instead I pulled it slightly left and missed the green, though I was pin high again (a welcome change from being constantly short like I had been recently). I had another iffy lie but at least I managed to get this one up and on the green, in fact I'd say it was a pretty good shot. I still had about 8 feet left as again I somehow got the ball to spin a little. I made that putt and went to the last hole at 5-over par for the round.

The 18th hole is a short par-5, only 440 yards on the card, but much like the 9th hole it has water around the green that come down the right side of the fairway. How far I was not sure at the time (though today I was out there and it looks like it starts about 240 yards from the tee) but I knew it was there. I aimed down the left side of the fairway and hit the best drive of the day. I ended up hitting that one about 270 or so and it felt gooood. I finally finished turning through the ball and hit the damn thing without it wanting to leak out right. The pin was on the front part of the green and I have only have around 155 yards left (I think the rangefinder said 157). With the slight tailwind we now have a decided that 7-iron was the best way to play this shot :

The only issue was that the ball was a little below my feet, which normally causes the ball to go a bit right. That is NOT what I needed here, all the trouble is right as you can easily see. Still, I've been hitting the ball solid most of the day, even if a good bit of them were drifting right, so I just aimed toward the left side of the green and tried to allow for it. I just had one main thought in mind : FINISH YOUR TURN THROUGH THE BALL.

The shot came off about perfect. I started the ball just left of the pin and it started to gently work  toward the pin, landing about 10 feet short of the hole. I don't think I could have imagined it much better than that. Maybe I caught it a shade low on the club, I could have hit it a little further if I didn't have that ball-below-the-feet lie. Maybe. Whatever. I now had 10 feet for eagle, slightly uphill with a bit of a right-to-left break to it. A very makeable putt.

I missed.

I thought I had it, I really did. I hit it what I thought was firm enough. I thought my line was high enough. Obviously one of them was wrong as the ball curved right in front of the cup at the end. To be honest I was in a bit of disbelief as that ball looked like it was center-cut for a long time. After a few more curses I picked up my putter and tapped in for a birdie to shoot 76. I'm not about to complain about that score on a day that started with a double bogey. Nope. Not gonna do it.

I thought about playing more but decided I probably shouldn't. The elbow was fine and it wasn't an issue but I could tell it was a little sore. Could I have played? Probably. Instead I found a few balls on the range and tried to concentrate on two things. One was to keep duplicating the feeling I was getting with how I was setting up. I can't really explain it but I feel as if my hands are at a point where I can clear them easier, that doesn't make sense in words but its all I can come up with. Second was to finish that turn all the way around so that I can square that clubface up with my body turn, at least that is how I feel it. I guess its more around than up and down, like my hands go more inside after getting through the ball. In a way both points are connected, the setup helps give me the feeling of where my hands need to go when I make that turn. Anyway, I tried it out more today (Tuesday) and I can definitely tell a difference compared to what I had been doing. I'm hitting the irons with more power again, like I did on the back nine on Sunday. I just hope I'm doing something correctly.

So this coming Sunday I'm going to head out to another local course called Longwood. They have 27 holes so I might be tempted to play more than 18, even if its just an extra 9 instead of a full round. I just hope I can build on what I started this past week, it was nice to finally hit some irons solidly again. We'll hit the range again on Thursday and see what happens.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Replicants everywhere at Tour 18 Houston.

For my latest round I ventured out toward Humble to play Tour 18 Houston, a course that has "simulations" of holes that can be found on other famous courses in the country. Unlike Golden Ocala Golf Club, the holes here are not quite as detailed and they don't copy any holes from other places in the world. Still, it was an interesting course concpet and its the kind of setup that I find fun to play.

The course starts with the 18th at Harbour Town Golf Links, which to me seems like a hole to end with, not start with. Their version looks like this :

The 1st hole at Tour 18 Houston
I butchered it like it was the real thing though. I hit a good drive on this 420 yard monster of an opener. I then chunked a 4-iron into the junk short of the green. I found the ball and played it out, wedged on fairly close but missed the bogey putt. The green seems awfully small though, maybe the real thing is that small but for such a long par-4 I'd have thought it would have been a bit larger.

Next we have their rendition of the 6th at Bay Hill. Interesting that they chose this hole as the 18th would have been the common choice. I'm not sure many people would know of this one but having been to the Arnie Classic a few times I thought it did a reasonable job of keeping the terrifying carry over the water front and center in your mind, especially if you are prone to missing left :

I hit three good shots here and walked away with par. The threesome that I was paired with did not do so well. If I remember correctly they combined to shoot 34 on this hole. Yeah, it was a slow day and I haven't mentioned the fivesome in front of the foursome that was hacking it up in front of us... oh, wait, meh, more on that later. Maybe.

I birdied the next hole, which is supposed to be the 3rd hole at Pinehurst #2. It's kinda closeish, though from what I could tell a trap was missing from around the green. Hey, I didn't know it at the time so I really shouldn't complain after carding a 3. I promptly gave that birdie back with a 3-putt bogey on the 5th, the copy of the 18th at The Inverness Club. Now we get to some of the fun stuff at "Amen Corner", or their version of it :

The 11th at Augusta National, portrayed by the 5th hole at Tour 18 Houston

The 6th hole is an attempt at Augusta #12

The 7th hole posing as #13 at Augusta
I parred all three holes. On the 5th I hooked a drive left and left myself about 170 yards to a front pin, not exactly ideal for this hole. Even better was that my ball with perched on a tall patch of grass that was even taller than the tee I use for my driver. I managed to pick it clean and had about 15 feet for birdie, a putt that I would miss on the high side.

I hit the green on the 6th hole but it was well to the right, a common theme for me lately. I was happy the ball was dry as I wasn't sure it would make it across the creek. I hit a good drive on the 7th but I was just a little too far back to have a good shot at going for the green in two so I laid up. I didn't hit it well and left myself about 130-135 yards to the hole. I hit 9-iron that I thought was going to be good, and I guess technically it was, however my ball landed at the top of the ridge in front of that back right part of the green and it rolled back down. I did well to take only two putts to get my par.

So after a double bogey start I've now hit 6 straight greens in regulation and remained at 2-over for the round. I was driving the ball fairly well also, the only bad one was that hook on the 5th. The iron shots were kinda iffy sometimes and I was still hitting them shortish. I was getting around somehow though. On the 8th, which is allegedly the 4th hole at La Costa's Champions Course. The thing is, that hole is a dogleg left, this one goes right. Anywho, I hit another good drive but came up slightly short on the approach. I didn't hit a great chip but I had a decent chance to save par, but missed.

We now come to their version of the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass :

The famous island green, in non-facsimile
All four of the fellas playing ahead of us found aqua, so their up there at the drop zone, chipping for par.I managed to get my ball a little past pin high to the right, leaving myself a downhill 20-footer for birdie, which I missed high on. Again, I was happy I was dry and made par for a 39 on the front.

After somehow making par on the 10th hole (which was the 10th at the old Desert Inn), we moved on to the 11th hole, a copy of the 6th hole on Disney's Magnolia Course :

The 11th hole, complete with a weak attempt at The Mouse's Ears
How close a copy this one might be is lost on me, I've never played the Magnolia Course (surprising, I know, I've hit all of the others). I coaxed my ball onto the front right of the green and made a par. From here it was mostly downhill though as all of the mirrors I've been using started to crack from side to side.

I bogeyed the next hole, which was tailored after the 3rd at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. I don't have a picture of it (its not that visually appealing) but they set up the hole poorly here. The hole is loooong and doglegs to the left, but they have houses just off the fairway at the bend of the dogleg. The tee aims you that way a bit also and it is VERY easy to hit a drive through the corner and into a beer that is sitting on some dude's patio table. In fact, another hint might be that many of the houses had buckets hanging on their fence full of golf balls, free to take at your leisure if one desired.

The 13th hole is one from Pebble Beach. Don't get too excited. Its not the 18th, or the 7th, or the 17th, or the 9th, or whatever else you can picture in your head. Since Texas seems to be missing part of the Pacific coastline they had to use the par-5 14th, an uphill beast of a hole. Again, this is Texas so our copy is dead flat. I hit a good drive but as the hole is playing 553 yards we're not thinking about reaching it in two. I hit 3 wood well but it went a little left. I had to knock down my third shot under some branches in an effort to get to the front right side of the green but I hit it just a little too hard and it rolled into the bunker. Could have been worse though. I hit a decent shot from there but misjudged the speed of the par putt and knocked it by about 6 feet. I then missed that one too and took a bad seven.

I followed that debacle up with a bogey on the 14th, which is the 3rd at Oakmont Country Club, complete with an attempt at the church pew bunkering. I managed a par on the next hole, which is supposed to be the 8th at Shinnecock Hills. We then arrive at the 16th hole, a rendition of the 11th hole on the East Course at Merion Golf Club :

The approach at the 16th hole at Tour 18 Houston
The tee shot was downhill and less than driver was called for. I hit a poor 3-wood to the left and into the hazard down the left... well, actually I was on the other side of it as it was just a little stream of water. I pitched back to the fairway and had a chance to at least hit the green and try for par. Instead I half-skulled a wedge over the right side of the green. I managed to get up and down after the drop for a double bogey. Quite a shame as I kinda liked the setup of this hole.

The 17th hole is fashioned after the 8th hole at Oak Tree National :

The par-3 17th at Tour 18 Houston
I'll admit I took a mulligan here. The club nearly flew out of my hand on my first attempt and I wasn't too thrilled about it. Perhaps it was because it was so hot and humid. It was probably more because I was getting a little tired at waiting on every shot while waiting for the fivesome and the foursome to get the hell out of the way. I could have played it, I kept it dry and it would have been a fairly simple pitch from just in front of that bunker to the right but I really wanted to see if I could make a better iron swing. I did, it wasn't great, but I did get on the green and make my par.

The last hole is admittedly well chosen, the 18th at what I would still simply call The Blue Monster at Doral. I hit a good drive but maybe a little more right than I should have since I left myself with 166 yards to the hole. Or I think I did, I'm not sure. I hit a 5-iron and I actually thought I hit it solid. It was a little left, which isn't good, but I thought I'd still catch the left side of the green. Nope. I didn't even clear the water. Being left didn't help, if it was on the line I wanted to be on that ball probably stays dry. That should have been plenty of club, even if I am hitting my irons a bit on the short side. That lead to another double bogey, closing the back side with a 44 to shoot 83 on the day.

The closing hole at Tour 18 Houston
I knew that eventually the band-aids would fall off and cost me some shots but I somehow still managed to hit 11 fairways and 11 greens on the round. Most of the drives were hit fairly well, one or two more so than the others, but the irons are still a weakness. Yeah, I managed to take an extra club often enough to get on the surface and stuff but I'm not really giving myself great chances at scoring when I do. Needing 35 putts didn't help but I didn't feel like I was awful, I just didn't have many that I really could expect to make. Yeah, I missed a couple of six-footers and I had two three-putt greens so maybe it really was as bad as it sounds.

I still killed the guys I was playing with though. I will say that despite a 5-hour-plus round I managed to handle all the delays really well, I can't say it affected me at all outside of the one slip I had on the 17th (and I probably could have gone back to the cart and toweled off my hands again). I'm surprised the course allowed a fivesome to go out on a Saturday morning right behind a tournament and in front of two other foursomes. One of those five was playing barefoot, maybe it was Jim McMahon... I should have asked for an autograph.

Back to the drawing board for that elusive iron swing again. I think we'll go back to BlackHorse and play the North Course this weekend and see what that one has in store for us.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The South Course at BlackHorse.

This past weekend I decided to stay right here in Cypress and play one of the two courses at BlackHorse Golf Club, which is just a mile down the road from while I live. They sent me out to the South Course and since I've not played either course I had no issue with letting them make the choice for me. Surprisingly, the first tee was wide open and I was able to start at my leisure.

The first hole was a straightaway par-4 with tress lined along both sides of the fairway. I hit a decent drive but pulled my wedge shot to the green to the left side of the green, leaving myself with about 40-50 feet for birdie. I hit a decent putt but still left it about 6-8 away for par. I thought I made that putt but it tailed away on me. From where I was a 3-putt wasn't a terrible sin, especially on the first hole.

The par-4 second hole
On the second hole (seen above) I hit my drive with a bit of the tail off to the right, toward the hazard. It wasn't too serious and it was still hit solid but while it was in the air it concerned me a bit. I ended up only being about a foot from the edge of the fairway. Again, I had a wedge for my approach only this time I managed to hit it more toward the spot I aimed for, leaving myself about 20 feet for birdie. I made that putt and went back to even par.

The par-3 fourth hole
On both the third and the fourth holes I hit indifferent iron shots to the green, each of which managing to find greenside bunkers. Neither shot was terribly difficult with all things considered, in fact the bunkers where damn near perfect, especially compared to what I've played in lately. Both times I blasted out to within two feet of the hole for tap-in pars.
The tee shot on the par-5 fifth hole
The first of the par-5 holes on this track was next. Since I didn't have an idea as to how far the water tracked down on the right side I played it safe and took a wider line to the left. I hit a good drive but managed to semi-block myself from taking a decent shot at the green in two due to some trees in between me and the green. I tried to hit 5-wood over and around them but hit it heavy, turning my go-for-it into a layup. I had about 50 yards left to the front hole location and managed to hit a lob wedge to about 5 feet. I thought that putt just had to go right but it refused my suggestion, giving me the cellophane treatment and I settled for par.

I played the next three holes bogey-par-bogey mainly due to the fact that I started to hit those weak iron shots again. I felt decent with the driver, though I wasn't exactly mashing it every time I hit that club either. This has gotten to the point that I am really starting to purposely overclub in hopes that I can avoid trying to swing too hard or out of control. Its worked for the most part as I'm at least keeping it in play. The biggest problem with the distance thing tends to be with anything longer than a 9-iron or wedge, even then I'm still hedging my bets with a longer club.

Anyway, despite this issue I found myself only two-over coming into the par-5 ninth hole :

The view from the tee of the ninth hole
This is really a pretty short par-5, measuring only 420 yards on the card from the tees I was playing. However, as you might be able to see there is trouble everywhere. There is a hazard running across the fairway that you need to carry and trees line the fairway on both sides. A hazard hides in the forest to the right and the hole just looks narrow. Naturally, I hit what would be my worse drive of the day here, snapping it hard to the left around and/or into the trees to the left. I hit a second ball since I had no idea what was really over there and managed to coax that one into the fairway.

I never did find the first ball. While the trees thinned out a bit over there I just never saw it. Of course, I have no idea just how far the ball ended up travelling or exactly how far left I hit it. I might have clipped a tree branch along the way. Whatever the case, now I lie three in the fairway, about 195 yards from the hole. The green looked as if it was sorta tucked toward the trees to the right so I had to be sure if I missed the green it was to the left. Using 5-wood I managed to hit a pretty good shot to about 25 feet left of the hole and two-putted for a bogey. Yep, what could have been.

To the back nine we go and my drive on this hole was kinda pathetic. Granted, it was humid and now the club feels like it wants to start slipping and such but I only managed to drive it about 200 yards, leaving myself a 7-iron into a 353-yard hole. I reached the green but just barely and walked away with a par despite the lack of power with either shot.

I hit better drives on the next two holes and went par-bogey, failing to get up and down from the bunker on the 12th green. This brought me to the short but attractive par-3 13th :

The 13th green
The tees were up as I only had 96 yards to the hole according to ye olde range finder so I grabbed my gap wedge and swore I was going to try and take a better cut at the ball this time. I did, though I did pull it just slightly, and ended up about 20 feet long and left. The putt for birdie had a fairly decent swing to the right and seemed a bit fast as well. While I didn't quite play enough break I did coax my ball down to tap-in range and earned my par.

The view from the 14th tee
On the 14th I hit another really weak drive and left myself about 170 yards to the green on a 370-yard par-4 that had a fairly sharp dogleg right in it. My 5-iron approach was hit a little better but it had that little leak to the right I've been getting, causing it to trickle off the green on the right. I had an iffy lie at best as the rough here can be a bit of an issue. I ended up pitching my ball much like a sand shot and got a similar result, placing it about two feet away for par.

The 15th is a par-5 that had a hazard left and another that crossed the fairway about 250 yards from the tee. I managed to navigate my ball over that crossing hazard with a rather poor layup shot but at least I was still on grass. My wedge to the green was solid for once and I now had about a 12-footer for birdie that I would go on to make. Despite the way I was hitting the ball I was even par for the back nine. I'm not sure how long I can keep this up to be quite honest.

The short par-4 16th hole
 The 16th is a short par-4 that gives you a couple of choices. You can take driver and try to go toward the green or take something less than driver and play out to the right, over or around the traps. By this time I ran into a threesome and joined them for the rest of the round. Two of them took the risky play and they told me it was about 230 yards or so to get to the little fairway over the hazard and in front of the green. Not feeling incredibly confident in my ability to accomplish that feat with a breeze in my face, I took 3-wood out to the right. I hit that pretty well, technically going through the fairway and in essence lengthening the hole. I still only had about 80 yards left so I grabbed my sand wedge and promptly hit one of those weaker filet-like shots that was lucky to get on the green. From there a three-putt for bogey, though again I'm not terrible angry about it as the hole was cut in a fairly silly place on a downslope toward the edge of the green. In fact, I think all four of us took three putts to get in since no one could gauge the speed or the break very well.... and they were members!

A look at the par-3 17th hole
Measuring 138 yards on this day I elected to hit 8-iron on the 17th hole. I hit this shot a bit more solidly but again had that little flair to the right. I caught the right side of the green and again faced a challenging first putt, this one having a ridge between me and the hole that was about 30 feet away. As what usually happens, I hit this putt a little too hard after leaving the previous putt on the last green a little short of the hill. This time I managed to make the 10-footer coming back to save my par.

The approach to the green of the par-5 18th
The closing hole is another short par-5 that gives you a chance to go for the green in two, however trouble is again everywhere. The fairway is a but tight and has a turn to the left where the landing area would be. If you are too far left you block yourself from the green a bit.There is also a hazard running in front of the green and going left is in the trees and/or the hazard. My drive was decent but a little left and in the rough, but not in horrible position for a go at the green. The problem was the lie I had wasn't very clean and the pin was tucked way to the left side of the green (if you can tell in the picture above).

I decided to just punch a 9-iron short of the hazard and leave myself with some sort of wedge to the green. I now had what should have been a very comfortable gap wedge left from here but I hit another of those annoying leakers to the right. Good thing there was plenty of green over there so I was still putting for birdie. I had about 40 feet left but at least this putt was simple compared to the last couple of chances. I gave it a good rap but left it about two feet short, close enough for a par and a score of 37 on the back side, giving me a 76 for the round.

I still don't know how I'm doing it.

I made a few putts. I somehow hit nine greens in regulation. The tees I played are a little short (about 6100 yards) but I will have to say that the course was playing a little long as some recent rain has prevented any real roll outs on the drives (I even had a couple of pitch marks in the fairways to cover up). Outside of that wild drive on the ninth hole I never had any trouble keeping the ball in play. Regardless, I need to figure out what I'm not doing to get the clubface squarely into the back of the ball. I'm sure its only some degree of hand-eye coordination is keeping the ball relatively straight right now.

As I type this on Friday, I have hit the range a couple of times since this round. Yesterday I decided to strengthen my grip by turning the hands a good bit to the right on the club. I do remember that there was a time in the past that my hands would creep further and further to the left, just because it feels more comfortable sometimes. While it can be hard to tell with range balls it did feel as if I was making solid contact with the stronger grip.

Another problem that keeps creeping up is my alignment. I've always been bad about aiming further right than I think I am (a lot of us do) but in an effort to "fix" that tendency I tend to end up with my shoulders angled left in comparison to my body. Sometimes my hips end up that way as well. I believe that can cause my weak leakers as I try to correct all of that with my arms and/or hands. For whatever reason it seems more prominent with the longer irons than anything else.

In any case I'll give it a go again tomorrow. I'll make a conscious effort to align myself a bit better and see if the stronger grip and a better turn helps get me more on track. Or I'll shoot 95. We'll see!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Slick Rock at Horseshoe Bay.

Technically my third round of the week, Slick Rock was in a separate location from the other two courses that the resort boasts. Of the three, I think this one was probably the one I liked the least, though I'd have no problem playing here again if the opportunity called. I played from the regular tees this time as the yardage was the most appropriate at 6342 yards, though the rating (71.4/132) suggested a good challenge was ahead.

Since we just finished the morning round at Apple Rock there was no need to hit the range and the first tee was wide open. My first drive was hit solid but pushed right and I caught the fairway bunker. I was near the lip so I didn't think I could go toward the middle of the green. Fortunately I was only about 120 yards away so I was able to get the ball to the left fringe. My chip wasn't great though and I settled for a bogey. Off to the second hole :

The par-3 second at Slick Rock
 The wind was coming from the left and against me so I took an extra club and hit the front of the green, about 20 feet left of the hole. I didn't hit it great, just good enough. That would pretty much be the case for the entire round, especially with the irons. For the most part I was hitting my driver solidly enough but I just felt I was leaving a few yards in the bag on those iron swings.

The view of the par-5 third hole from the tee
The third hole was simple enough, a dogleg right par-5 that did have a simple water feature near the green. The hole was playing long (540 yards) and while I did hit the green in regulation I needed a 9-iron to do it and I didn't hit it particularly close. A par is always a good score so I took that without complaint.

I proceeded to par the next two holes, having decent birdie opportunities on each slip by me. I found another fairway bunker on the par-4 sixth hole and that led to my second bogey of the round. I started to struggle a bit at this point, missing the greens the rest of the front nine and ended up with a 40. The eighth hole, a medium length par-3, was kinda cool though :

The par-3 eighth hole
The pin was back right and I aimed to the left of the hole. I hit a 6-iron (or was it a 5? I don't recall now) and it started to cut toward the hole. I thought I was on the surface but I was actually a shade short of the fringe. I managed to get up and down from there but to see that I was short of the green there was disappointing. This is about where I knew something wasn't quite right with my contact.

I made the turn and started off par-bogey-par, the two pars would be the final par-5 holes on the course. I didn't hit any of the greens but I was hanging around them close enough to make getting those pars simple enough. The 12th hole was kinda cool, a picture of it is below :

The par-5 12th hole from the tee
I hit my drive to the left of that fairway bunker, it was solid but I tug-drew it to the left. I missed the trap but I had an awkward lie with the ball being well above my feet. Water crossed the fairway in the landing area for a layup to this green so I had to try and figure out where to hit my ball. I guessed right and had another 9-iron to the green but I hit it pretty poorly and left it short right. The chip was simple enough, one I thought I could make so it wasn't horrible in the end.

After another up-and-down on the par-3 13th we moved on the the signature hole of the course, the par-4 14th :

The so-called "million-dollar hole" at Slick Rock
The waterfall doesn't come into play really, in fact the hole was only about 330 yards. I hit a good drive and had an uphill shot to the green that I promptly left short (again) but still made par with a good chip and a putt (again). The hole was pretty cool to play though and the cart path goes along the waterfall, just a level below the fairway. Neat.

I managed to finally hit a green in regulation on the par-4 15th and again on the 16th but I three-putted the latter for a bogey there. The 16th was playing long, 405 yards into a wind that made a difference. I hit 5-wood into that green and ended up probably 60 feet from the hole, thus the three-putt bogey. I can't be too hard on myself for that as the putt had a good deal of break in it. Getting down in two putts would have been an accomplishment.

The long par-3 17th hole
The next hole was the last par-3 on the course, playing at 180 yards on the card. With the back pin and a strong headwind I had to use that 5-wood again. I hit it solid enough but a shade lower than I hoped and the ball ended up rolling off the back of the green. I had very little green to work with to try and pitch it close but I almost pulled it off, in fact I got what I thought was a bad hop off the fringe that caused the ball to shoot off to the left and roll a bit further than I'd have thought. I missed the 10 footer for par but a bogey here didn't feel terrible.

The last hole wasn't quite picture-worthy, in fact I don't remember much about it off the top of my head. I did manage a par that would give me a pretty solid 79 for the round. While I didn't hit many solid shots with my irons I did manage to keep the ball safely in play, giving myself chances to recover when I missed the greens.

So there we have it. Overall, Horseshoe Bay is a pretty nice place to come for a little golf getaway though I was not my first choice. I originally wanted to try my hand at Barton Creek Resort but one of there signature courses was going to be renovated this summer so I wouldn't have been able to play it. Maybe next year, assuming all four of the courses are open, I'll take a shot at them.

As far as for the more immediate future, I'm not really sure. This weekend might be tough for me to get out to play. If the weather holds up I might go out on Sunday but we'll have to see how things feel. If I go I'll likely try one of the courses at BlackHorse Golf Club since that place is literally a mile down the road from me. I gotta play them sometime...