Monday, January 23, 2006

The Sunday Sunset adventure

Well, we opted for Sunset Hills this weekend since this nice couple we know invited us as their guests. We had never golfed with them before, so that was a treat in itself.

Speaking of treats

Is it part of golf etiquette or country club etiquette that when you bring in guests you also put whatever they order on your tab? Being relatively new to golf, I have only had the pleasure of being someone’s guest a few times. And being doggedly middle class, I of course haven’t my own membership to see things from the other side.

Beverages and snacks at the turn? “Put that on our tab, Charlie.” Refreshments from the cart girl? “Put that on our tab, Tracy.” Join us for lunch after the round? “Our treat.” Is this normal? It was quite gracious of them, but I’d rather be invited back to play more frequently. The real treat is being allowed out on the course.

Speaking of the course

Sunset Hills is our local dog run of the country clubs. It’s kind of short (6066 from the back, 5804 from the middle, 5543 from the forward tees) but tricky in places. It’s maintained pretty well but it’s not pristine by any means. It’s a nice little club and would be the only one we could afford to join if we wanted to give all our money to just one course. It has some narrow landing areas, but compared to some of the surrounding courses, it’s supposed to play a little “easier” with course and slope ratings of 68/118 for the men and 73.7/127 for the women from the white tees. Of course, those numbers don’t factor in the wind. I played from the whites, and according to my calculator, my target was a 92 to play to my handicap there.

The set up

Greg usually plays from the white tees and we didn’t have a discussion about it, and when he held out his hand for me to tee off first, that’s where I went. Then he proceeded to tee off from the blacks, which are an average of a whopping 10 yards longer per hole. Turns out he had been discussing it with our male host and they were wagering some kind of Nassau situation, so that’s where the “real” competition was. Yeah right. He knows it’s our card that counts, but now whatever happens, we’re not competing from the same level. Annie, our female host, has a whole different attitude on golf, so there would be no wagering between us, and she was playing from the forward tees anyway.

The sideshow

Annie was so much fun to play with and watch, though. She has a fun sense of humor, but her swing was to die for. It was like Charles Barkley trying to scoop ice cream from a giant bucket with a golf club. That it could be effective at all was astonishing, but she somehow (sometimes) made it work. The first time I was up next to the green on the right waiting for her to come up, I saw her stance was positioned to aim directly at me. I was about to panic but Dave waved at me to relax. Sure enough, her swing came around and the ball went past her left heel and right at the hole. How does she do that, and wasn’t it more difficult to adapt to that swing than it would have been to learn the “correct” way? She took mulligans on almost every hole, threw balls back into play and picked up on almost every green, so to her, golf is an entirely different type of amusement. And we got to share in that amusement by watching her play.

The round

I had played Sunset once before, but I couldn’t remember a single hole. Greg, on the other hand, has a photographic memory for golf holes and has played that course probably over a dozen times. When I was the only one to par the first hole, I thought we were off to a swell start, but I knew there was a lot more golf left to play.

It was pretty chilly out that morning and the wind was making it worse. Our hosts had a fancy heater in their cart along with their supply of Baileys and coffee. They were a fun twosome. I stuck to my water until the 6th hole, where I got some coffee from the cart girl just to warm up a little. The wind was picking up by the 8th hole, and after nine, I had a 45 with a five stroke lead on Greg, who shot an uncharacteristic 50. If I could keep it on this pace, I would play to my calculated target after all, if not below it. That’s my real gauge of my performance and progress. The wind really started ripping on the 10th hole and proceeded to increase the rest of the round. It went from 10-15 mph to 25-30 mph in a hurry.

A sign of things to come

After taking a disastrous 9 on the par-5 11th hole, we ran into some backup on the par-3 12th. It’s a short one (136 white and 138 black) but all carry over a ravine, with trees behind it. The wind was working from the back right of the green towards the left of the tee. We watched as the foursome in front of us gave it a go. They were well struck balls, but the wind carried three of the four of them back into the ravine. One just cleared but was still short of the green. The pin placement was tricky, too. The green slopes pretty severely back to front, and of course the pin was in the front. They told us the foursome before them six-putted as the wind pushed the ball off the front of the green multiple times. We watched the same thing happen to them as we made our club selections and strategized on the wind movement.

The guys teed off first, each playing a 7-iron into the wind to the right, theorizing the wind would bring it back to the green. Maybe the wind shifted directly left instead of forward, but both their shots went long and left, Dave’s being the only one that stayed in bounds just beyond the green. I did an exact instant replay of Greg’s shot, going OB into the trees behind and left of the green. Annie didn’t even bother trying, and just dropped on the other side. There was another foursome waiting and watching, so we didn’t hit second shots and instead went Easter-egg hunting while Dave and Annie struggled to get their balls in the hole. What technically should have been four “7x’s” went on our cards as fives. I’ve never done that before.

Ridiculously retarded wind

The wind persisted and the gusts got insane. My ponytail was helping to secure my hat, but it still flew off a number of times. The ball would blow right off the tee if you didn’t hit it fast enough. We couldn’t hear each other speaking and I didn’t have sunglasses so my eyes were getting gritty. It was no use removing leaves from the path of your putt because by the time you hit, they would be blown away and replaced with new ones anyway. Speaking of wind, this post is becoming exceedingly long. It’s odd. When speaking with people, I’m usually rather terse. When I write, especially today, I’m as long winded as a flatulent giraffe.

Hitting driver on a par-3

The 17th hole is a 202 yard par-3 and was going directly into the wind, which we figured was now up to about 40-50 mph with even stronger gusts. Dave hit driver from his tees (210 yards) and kept it low but missed the green long and left. Greg used his 3-wood but he got it up in the air a little too much. It ballooned up and he missed the green short left. I’d never done it before, so it felt strange teeing up with a driver at a par-3. After replacing the ball on my tee a couple times I fired a good one, dead straight and not too high or low that landed squarely on the green and settled in birdie range. I missed the birdie putt but tapped in for the miracle par of the day. Greg made a 20 foot bogey putt that was threatened by a leaf that blew in front of it right by the hole. It almost caused the ball to stop short, but it fell in the hole with dramatic flair. Dave also managed a bogey there. Eighteen is a par-5, also directly into the wind. Annie didn’t even bother playing and I picked up for a 7x before I even made it to the green.

The final result

I shot a disappointing 53(x) on the back, for a total of 98. Greg shot another 50(x) for a total of 100. I can’t really claim victory because of the tee difference, so I still haven’t realized that accomplishment. Oh, but it’s just a matter of time. He adjusted his three 8’s to 7’s and then another two strokes for good measure, posting a 95 for handicap calculating purposes. I adjusted my 9 to a 7 and my 5 on that par 3 to a more realistic 6 and posted a 97. It’ll be a high differential that won’t get used calculating next month’s handicap anyway, but it might come into play at some point. If course and slope ratings did factor in the weather conditions, 98 might have been a really good score for me. But I realized early on that I need to leave the word IF out of my golf vocabulary in order to minimize my frustration. And now I know I’d rather not play IF it’s going to be that windy. Sure, it’s probably good experience and will help my game in the long run, but I’ll have to get caught off guard again to get that kind of experience in the future. I left the course feeling brutalized and physically beaten, which was strangely rewarding but not something I’ll seek out again.

Next post.


mediaguru at hookedongolfblog.com said...

Many clubs don't even deal with cash so the food and drinks HAVE to be put on the member's tab.

Kiwi said...

I think I've guessed the word you guys have to put in your posts!!

Anonymous said...


This club took cash. I secretly paid once after our host walked away. (Is that bad form?)