Monday, August 29, 2005

My Michigan golf experience

Last week I had the opportunity to play a little golf in Michigan. I asked for recommendations and got one from an anonymous poster and two from someone called Jeff. Luckily, I got to play two times so I was able to use recommendations from both of them. Thanks!

Coincidentally, both courses I played were also recommended by the local business owner I was there to see for work. He put all his favorite area courses down on a list in order or priority he would recommend them. Thousand Oaks was #1, and Quail Ridge was #3. His #2 (Boulder Creek) wasn’t recommended here on my site, so I skipped it to go to Quail Ridge. I don’t know about Boulder Creek, but boy am I glad I played Quail Ridge!

Thousand Oaks

First, I played a twilight round at Thousand Oaks after work on Wednesday. All the locals I was around raved about it and wished they could go with me. It’s also one of the more spendy courses in the area and in a pretty ritzy neighborhood. (I’m trying to make spendy a word.) Without the recommendations, those things alone wouldn’t mean much to me, but with them, I was expecting good things.

I played from the gold tees, which came with a course rating of 75.4 and slope of 137 for women (69.7/130 for men). The total yardage is listed as 6137, although a lot of the tees were back at the white distances, which have a total distance of 6677, so I guess it was somewhere in between. My drive came and went – usually I either have it or I don’t. The fairways are nice and forgiving, kind of like friendly valleys that kick or funnel your ball back into the middle. That was fortunate for me on a number of holes, although I missed by more than they could help me with on a couple.

Here’s a look from the tees at number 5. My drive went over the hill past the bunkers up there on the left.

The gallery pointed out my ball for me. Seriously, they were right on top of it.

According to my handy-dandy calculator, my 24.2 index translated to a course handicap of 29, giving me a target score of 105, so I played 5 over my handicap with a 110. Ugh. I hate the hundreds, but that’s where I still am most of the time. I’m working on that. It was still a great afternoon and a really nice course. I got some souvenirs to bring home since I live right by Thousand Oaks, CA and we don’t have a course by that name. Pretty neat!

Quail Ridge

The next day, all I had to do was fly home, so I played Quail Ridge at “Magic Hour.” Sunrise tee time. Steam still coming off the lakes. Grass all dewy – cart, ball and feet leaving fresh tracks for all to follow.

Thousand Oaks
seemed to be above it on most people’s lists, and it was really nice, but I liked Quail Ridge better. Could have something to do with the time of day I played, I guess. I also thought it might be because I played it better, because my score was lower, but I entered it into my system and it turned out I played 5 over my handicap! I had a couple disastrous holes that really bumped up my score and ended up with a 101. I played the gold tees, which were rated 70.9/117, so my target score was 96.

Here's the evidence of my unlucky-dog pass. On the par 5 #18 (9th for me, since I started on the back nine), my second shot hit that post and rolled backward! I might have made the green in two and three putted for five. Instead, I bogeyed. I have since been told I could have hit my second shot again from the original position without penalty, but I didn't know that at the time.

Score aside, I enjoyed the peaceful serenity of the morning and the quaint, picturesque holes and scenery so much I could barely contain myself. While it would also be nice to share the moment with someone, I think part of the enchantment was the absolute silence and the feeling of being completely alone. Oh, except for the groundskeepers. Thanks for squeegee-ing the tee boxes!

Here's a shot from the tees at #7. I think it's a good representation of the course as a whole.

All told, I had a splendid Michigan golf experience and really appreciate the recommendations!

Next post.

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