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.