Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My two rounds on the Apple Rock course at Horseshoe Bay.

I played this course in the morning on both Thursday and Friday. One thing that I learned before teeing off on Friday was the fact that they were in the process of doing some type of restoration of the greens and the sand traps. I suspected something was up since the greens seemed to be kinda small but with a wide fringe cut. The traps were always a bit damp and clumpy, almost as if they were mostly clay. In any case both situations made Apple Rock play a bit tougher than it might normally have.

The first hole wasn't exactly a simple opener :

The look down toward the fairway of Apple Rock's opening hole

The first green from the fairway
Right of the sand and into the trees is just dead as a lateral hazard lurks in there, a spot that my various playing partners found with regularity. I managed to hit two solid drives here, leaving myself with 9-iron to a green guarded by water short and left. The biggest problem was that the fairway had a severe slope downhill and the green was awfully narrow, even more so with the way they were being cut. I missed the green right both times despite solid contact. The first time I was dead. The pin was cut in the very front of the green in a narrow tongue, so to speak. That section of the green couldn't have been more than 15 feet wide and naturally I was above the hole to boot. I took a double bogey that day and made bogey the next. Tough hole to start the round on.

The second hole was a long par-4 that doglegs right, sorta. I never could figure it out exactly. I hit solid drives both days but ended up either "left" or "through" the fairway both times. From there I had a ball-below-my-feet lie that I had to hit over a tree to the green. The first day I pulled it off, not so much on the second as that one squirted off to the right and into a bunker. I hit a nice shot from the trap to about 8 feet but lipped out the putt for par. On Thursday I managed to two putt for par though.

The par-3 third hole
This cute little buggar almost got me both days, I was lucky to hit enough club each time to clear the water as I pushed both attempts. I made a good up and down the first day but lipped out on the second one. I don't have a picture of the fourth but its a par-5 hole that I had a fair share of poor luck on. The first day I had a wedge into the green but hit it short and plugged into the lip of the bunker. I managed to get out and bogey the hole. On the second day I hit it pin high bit spun it back down the slope of the green about 35 feet away. I three-putted from down there.

One thing I didn't mention in my last post was all the spin I was getting on the greens. Several times I backed up iron shots on Ram Rock and those greens just seemed... different. They looked a little greener and had a texture unlike the other two courses. There was some evidence that the greens on Apple were punched a couple of weeks ago but they rolled just fine. Still, they seemed different. I didn't get the spin every time on Apple Rock like it seemed that was happening on Ram Rock. Curious.

Anyway, enough about that. I managed to par the par-4 fifth hole each day. On Friday I hit a wedge to within 15 feet. The problem was that I hit it a shade long and still had 8 to 10 feet of fringe and rough to navigate to the hole. When that ball hit the green it didn't check and spin back, oh no. It had to bounce. Friday was a weird day, it really was. I tried to bounce the chip off the fringe but I had to be sure I hit it hard enough to get out of the rough. Because of that the ball hit a little hard and rolled past the hole about 10 feet. I made that uphill putt and finally had my first par of the round.

The sixth hole kicked my ass on Friday. I hit what I thought was a perfect drive, solid with a slight draw. Too bad it was the wrong line as it one-hopped into a fairway trap. The previous day I didn't get to the trap but it was a little bit of a push and the hole doglegs to the left. Anyway, I hit fat out of the tap, chucked a wedge into the greenside trap, blasted out short of the surface and took a seven. On Thursday I was 4-over after the sixth hole, Friday I stood 7-over. The thing is I felt I was making better swings on Friday!

The par-5 seventh hole
The seventh hole is a downhill par-5 that is easily reachable in two... if you can find the fairway. I don't think its an incredibly difficult challenge to do so but I failed on both attempts. I hit solid drives but a little left, blocking myself out by the trees you see down the hill. The first day I didn't realize how close to the green I was and I hit my punch shot under the branches harder than I needed to. I was lucky it hit the big rock that acts as 100-yard marker or it would have gone who-knows-where, probably out of bounds. The second day I took a better line and got into the fairway. Both days I hit the green, but while on Thursday I landed my ball on the slope and held it above the hole, on Friday I hit it pin-high but spun the ball back down the same slope. Frustrating little bastard. I made par both times though so no damage done.

The par-3 eighth hole
I ended up hitting the front of the green on both days on the par-3 eighth hole. For whatever reason I simply couldn't hit the shot as solid as I'd have liked. At least I didn't back either one into the water or something. I finished up the front nine with a par on both days, giving me a 40 on Thursday but a 43 on Friday. The back nine starts off with back-to-back downhill par 5s, pictures are below :

The view from the elevated 10th tee

The 11th green
I had vastly different results on these holes over the two days. On Thursday, I pushed my drive right on the 10th and never found it so I had to assume it was out of bounds. I ended up taking an eight on the hole. On Friday I hit a perfect drive and then hit 3-wood to within about 60 yards of the hole, but ended up with an iffy lie. I hit what I thought was a well-judged lob wedge to the front of the green but it didn't have much spin on it, rolling to the back of the green and leaving me about 20 feet away. However I made that putt for a very much-needed birdie.

On the 11th, Thursday was played well, I hit the green in regulation and had a pretty decent chance for birdie but couldn't convert. I did the same thing on Friday except for the fact that I snap-hooked my drive out of bounds to the left. I "parred" the second ball to take a seven.

The 12th hole, a nice par-3 over Lake LBJ
The 12th hole also had a little bit of frustration. Thursday was fine, though through my playing partner I discovered that the slope on this green could be pretty damn fierce. The pin was back right and he was back left. He hit his putt just a shade firm and it just didn't stop, falling off to the right and rolling down the hill to toward the front of the green. On Friday the pin was up and remembering that slope I took the longer club, planning on using said slope to bring the ball back down in case I did hit it long. I hit the ball right over the flag, about 8 yards past the hole in right into that slope... where it rolled back about six inches and stayed there. Of course I couldn't stop the first putt down the hill quickly enough. Three putts gives me bogey. Fuck. That really should have worked, LOL.

So on Thursday I'm now 7-over after the 12th while on Friday I'm 9-over par. At this point I still believe I've made better swings on Friday that I did on Thursday. I guess I did make a few more putts on Thursday up to this point but both days had its share of bad holes. We'll just blame them.

I don't have pictures for the 13th through 15th holes but the 13th was an uphill par-4 that I never was comfortable on and bogeyed both days. The 14th was a short par-4 that dogleged right. On Thursday I hit 3-wood off the tee but went through the fairway on the line I chose and made bogey. On Friday I hit driver in an attempt to hit over the short trap to the fairway beyond. I didn't hit it well but managed to hit a pull-fade around said trap, hit the green and made par. The 15th was a straightaway par-4 that was also fairly short. On Thursday I hit 3-wood off the tee but it ended up left and into a trap. I managed to get it close to the green from there and got up and down for par. I hit driver on Friday onto the fairway, hit my wedge to about 10 feet and make the putt for my second birdie of the day. Yay me.

The weird but scenic 16th hole
Now we come to the 16th hole. A dogleg left, the hole it cut in half by a rock/water feature about 200 yards from the tee. The thing is the hole is about 340 yards long, playing uphill from the fairway to the green. Cool hole but the yardages just seemed a bit awkward. I was forced to hit 4-iron off the tee both days since I couldn't be sure I could stop 5-wood in time. From there I hit 7-iron to the green on Thursday and got my two-putt par. Friday called for a 6-iron but I hit it poorly, leaving it short and right to a pin tucked just off the front of the green. From there I hit what had to be the best lob shot I had all week, leaving my ball about 5 feet above the hole. That putt was a slick left-to-right slider down that hill but I coaxed it in for a satisfying par.

The 17th is a nice par-3 that I didn't take a picture of. I hit the green both days and got my pars. I had a good chance at birdie on Friday but it just slid by on the left on me. The 18th is a dogleg left that demanded you cut off the corner of the fairway to get a good look into the green, which I managed to do on both days. That leaves you with this look up to the green:

The 18th green at Apple Rock
My well-positioned drive on the 18th hole on Friday
Two different results here also. My wedge to the back pin on Thursday was about 20 feet short of the hole, not awful by any stretch. The putt for birdie never had too much of a chance as I misread it a little but I did have a tap-in par. On Friday the pin was up and I took just a little too much off, leaving it short but on the wide fringe. I was sorta lucky that I didn't spin the ball too much or it might have rolled down the hill a bit. I had what I would consider a makeable chip for birdie but I didn't hit it well, I think I caught it a shade thin and the ball just didn't check up for me. I missed the 12 footer for par to give me an 81 for the day... actually I had 81 on both days.

A pair of 9-over days on that course isn't bad at all but I know I left a few strokes out there, especially on those two par-5s to start the back nine. Taking a triple on the sixth hole didn't help on Friday and starting off my Thursday round with a double wasn't exactly ideal either. I came away feeling better about my swing and my play on Friday though. I was really trying to make an effort to turn my body more through the ball and I saw some results. I seemed to hit my irons a little more solid and I hit some pretty good drives as well. I have something to try and build on, that's for sure.

So that was Apple Rock, which leaves us with Slick Rock for the next entry. I'll try to type that one up either tomorrow or Thursday, at worst I'll have it up before I go out for my next round this weekend.