That's right; I now have my own "thirteen original colonies." Okay, golf states. Kansas? Check.
Warning: Extremely long post. You can always read some now and come back later for the rest.
Last week, my work took me to Kansas City and, having checked the weather report before leaving, I took my golf clubs. While I was working, the temperatures during the day were in the high 70’s. I think it even reached 80. The day I was leaving was just a “travel day” for me, so I booked an afternoon flight and planned on golfing in the morning before I left. The course I chose is called “Dub’s Dread Golf Club” and is, reportedly, a local favorite. Part of my reasoning was also its relatively close proximity to the airport. I booked the 3:54 p.m. flight but hoped to play early enough to catch the 12:52 on stand-by.
How "dread"ful is this?
I called them the afternoon before to make sure they didn’t have any tournaments planned and to make sure I’d be able to get out. After finding out they didn’t, the conversation went something like this:
“Do you make tee-times for singles or should I just come down and get on the list?”
“What time are you planning on getting here?”
“Well, there won’t be much for you to do since we don’t open until 8:15.”
(Hang on, the sun comes up at 7… what’s all this about business hours? Toto… I don’t think we’re in California anymore.)
“Oh… ha ha… so how does it look?”
“Oh, fine, just come down and I’ll get you out.”
(Wondering if that gives me time to make my flight) “What can I expect the pace of play to be?”
“However you set it. You’ll be the first one out – I don’t have a reservation until 8:45.”Toto, I’m definitely not in California anymore.
Best Laid Plans
Now, even in my priority frequent flier check-in and security lines, I have to check a bag because of my golf clubs so I know I have to be there at least 45 minutes before my flight because of TSA regulations. My Google map route tells me it’ll take 31 minutes to get to the airport and I figured about 20 minutes to gas up my rental car, return it and get to the terminal. So to make a 12:52 flight I have to leave the golf course by 12:01 at the latest. This means I have to finish golfing by about 11:45 in order to re-pack my clubs in the travel bag, get organized and get out of there. And this is all as tight as I can possibly make it, which is why I wanted to get out at 7:00. No problem, right? Playing as a single with no one in front of me, even as bad as I’ve been playing lately, I’m figuring 3 hours TOPS. This scenario gives me 3 and a half. Perfect.
I left my hotel a few minutes later than I planned, with an estimated arrival of 8:00. Google maps had the directions right, but they didn’t tell me the street wasn’t well marked and in fact didn’t even look like a street. I called after getting lost and the pro told me to look for a particular church on a corner and turn left after that (but be careful not to miss it, because it’s not well marked – no kidding). Well, I didn’t arrive until 8:30 and now I’m really pushing my time limit. I decided to ride in order to save time, and then he told me it was cart path only. It probably would have been quicker to just walk the whole course. Then I knew I would have to try not to play cart path golf when I’m going to be rushing anyway. It didn’t bode well for my early flight or my round.
I packed my golf attire according to what weather.com told me it would be like on golf day. While it wasn’t supposed to be high 70’s like the previous days, it was supposed to be mid-to-low-60s. I play in weather like that here all the time. No big deal. I wore a long sleeve shirt under a regular golf shirt and long pants. Luckily, I had a light windbreaker in my bag as well, because it was high 40’s with a freezing wind! It was especially bad on the first and tenth tees where there’s no shield at all. No time to hit balls (I didn’t notice if they even had a range, but I’m assuming they did), I ran circles around my cart just to try to get a little warmer. I was shivering and shaking (what a California wuss).
So that's what they call “dormant” grass. I think Greg has mentioned it once or twice because some of the courses out here use it in certain areas, but other than that, I knew nothing about it. From what I can tell, it’s really just grass that is temporarily dead. Dead, nonetheless. Totally different feel than regular grass. If it's dead, say it's dead!
All things considered, I didn’t start off too badly, and took a bogey on the first hole, a par 5. It got worse on the next hole, where I took a 7 and my first 3-putt of the day. The next hole was even worse than that. I’m a bad judge of distance and my drive got lost in the mud on the other side of the lateral water (mud creek) hazard that bisects the fairway. I dropped and hit my third from a bad lie and my ball hit the muddy side of the hill and didn’t roll much after that. I hit again and it ended up down near the teebox at the next hole. I chipped up from there thinking it would be in a pretty good position on the green but the bunker I didn’t know was there had other plans. My next shot put it on the green, where I proceeded to 3-putt for a nine. A NINE… on a 320 yard hole!!! I’m laughing at myself and taking in all the unusual-for-me scenery and course conditions, but thinking I’ve got to settle down… I can still salvage this round. Somehow, I managed to get my ONLY par of the day on the very next hole with my ONLY green in regulation of the day on a silly 143 yard par-3. It was all carry over water, but still... only 143. The rest of the round was all bogeys and doubles and even one more triple. Sure I was cold and hurrying and marveling at the dried out duck poop and yellow grass while trying to figure out where the holes went, cursing the cart path only rule all the way, but this is just how I’ve been playing lately, excuses or not.
This is another par-3, the 150-yard 11th hole. It's more uphill than it looks in this picture. After putting one in the water, I landed the next about 15 feet above the hole and two-putted on a really steep green. No GIR and no par for my stats, but it felt good anyway. Tough hole.
I hit 9 out of 14 fairways but only one GIR. I came within feet (and even inches) of 10 of them, but this isn’t horseshoes or hand-grenades. I had:
Four one-putts. None of those were great accomplishments; they were made possible by close chips from just off the green. When I wasn’t that close to the pin, I had:
Five 3-putts and
If I just looked at my total number (39) putts, it might not look so bad. But clearly, my current problems are the approach shots and putting.
I ended up with a 104 and had to adjust that 9 to a 7 for equitable stroke control to post an adjusted 102. I don't know who the original "Dub" was from Dub's Dread, but I dubbed myself "Dub" after this round. However, this was just one of a series of 100+ rounds I’ve put up lately in my current slump. When I was playing my best, I had been practicing a lot at my neighborhood 9-hole par three course and was really confident with most of my irons. Somehow, I don’t get the same results from hitting at the range, and I hate mats! Putting has always been a struggle for me, and I've already started a practice regimen for that. (I even got in my practice session in Kansas City, the evening before my round at a place called All Golf.) At least now I know what I need to do. It’s starting to stay lighter later so it’ll be a little easier to get that practice in, at least when I’m in town.
No, I didn’t make that earlier flight. By the time I finished, re-packed my clubs and drove away, it was noon. I had to wait at the airport for two and a half hours until I could board the plane for my scheduled flight. Why did I even try? I should have just relaxed and walked the round. It would have been warmer, too.