The Epic Battle

I’m on my annual vacation excursion to Kiawah Island with the family.  I’ve already played The Ocean Course once
on this vacation and posted a 90.  Now given that Golf Digest regards The Ocean Course as the most difficult
course in the country I suppose I should feel good about that score in light of my current 10.6 handicap index.  But
something was just eating away at me.  You see, I don’t tally my score until the round is over and although I knew I
didn’t light the course on fire; not breaking 90 was wearing on me.  To get that 90, I endured a lackluster ball
striking effort on the front nine but posted a 45 due to some excellent chipping and putting.  But then on the back
nine I hit the ball as well as I ever had and putted and chipped fairly well, but still a 45.  I suppose I felt like I got
hosed on a few bounces, the 25 mph winds, and the crazy bunkers and mounds on the course.  But whatever the
reason, I headed back to the course in the early evening just a few days later.  I was determined to put my best foot
forward and stay focused and intense for the entire round and see if I could break 90 on the hardest course in

After warming up, I stood at the first tee box with the starter, and another course staff member, as they talked me
through the rules and regulations of the course.  During our chit-chat I told them my mission; they kind of laughed
and mentioned that with the wind up as high as it was (30 to 40 mph) putting up a career round would be quite a
feat.  I kind of laughed and smiled, but was undaunted.  I approached the tee box, put my tee in the ground and
began my pre-shot routine.  As I was about to address the ball, I could feel their stares.  Nevertheless, I let loose
and swung the club as best I could.  BAM!!!  Smack dab dead center of the fairway.  I was off.  My two on-lookers
yelled, “Hey, if you keep hitting them like that breaking 90 will be no problem at all!!”  That felt good, but I had many
more strokes to hit.

As I approached my ball, I saw I had 165 left to the pin and water lurked to the right and mounds off to the left.  I
stood tall and let a 5 iron loose.  Blocked it.  Damn it.  Fortunately the wind was hard right to left and the ball landed
in the mud, but not the water.  A bit afraid of alligators and snakes, I hit my chip fairly quickly and with mediocre
results.  I had about 15 feet left for my par, but I missed the putt and walked off with a bogey.  Not a bad start, I

The second hole at The Ocean Course is my favorite on the course.  It is 530 yards with two forced carries and a
green that is heavily guarded by bunkers.  

Tee shot…bingo, right down the pipe and over the first carry (a waste bunker) and into the middle of fairway.  But it
did fade away from the hole a bit, so I was left with 190 yards to carry the creek bisecting the fairway.  Wanting to
play this par 5 safely, I laid up with an 8 iron leaving me 165 to the pin.  Again, I drew 5 iron.  Thinking, “slow steady
swing”; I pulled the club back and then jerked spasmodically down at the ball.  I hit about 6 inches behind the ball,
bounced the club off the deck and skulled the ball.  Luckily, it cleared the creek and appeared to stop just short of
the bunkers protecting the green.  But as I approached the bunkers, I noticed the ball just trickled in and I was left
with about a 30 yard bunker shot off of fairly hard and compacted sand to a plateau green.  Again, I hit too far
behind the ball and instead of traveling 30 yards it travelled 25 and buried into the slope of this nasty bunker and
left me a fried egg shot with a very awkward stance.  I hacked it out and was left with a 25 foot putt for bogey, which
of course I missed…but did make the next one from about 3 feet.  Double bogey.  Frankly, I was pretty pissed off.  
Good tee shot, great layup, and then I made a complete disaster on a hole I had a real shot at par on.  Oh well, I
wasn’t going to mentally quit.  On to hole #3.

The third at Kiawah Ocean is a short par 4 (319 yards) with a nasty waste bunker off the left side of the fairway with
about a 10 foot massively steep grassed faced bunker wall.  The hole doglegs left and the green is elevated and
surrounded by some pretty severe mounding.  I had birdied this hole the other day, so I felt damn confident.  I
grabbed three wood and smashed the crap out of it.  As the wind was howling right to left, I aimed at the extreme
right side of the fairway and I crushed this 3 wood right on that line.  I bent down to pick up my tee, but just out of
the corner of my eye I noticed the wind grabbing my ball.  Perhaps I put too much draw on the ball, I don’t really
know, but the wind grabbed that ball and drove it HARD all the way across the fairway and the ball just caught the
top of that severely sloped bunker wall and, of course, the ball ended up at the bottom of that waste bunker.  Again,
I was kind of pissed.  I smoked that ball on the exact line I wanted, but again I was in awful shape.  Oh well, I told
myself not to give into the frustration.

I took my stance at the bottom of that bunker with 105 yards left to the pin.  Given I was in the sand with some uphill
to the green, I took pitching wedge.  AGAIN, hit too far behind the ball…barely got out of the bunker…and ended up
6 inches to the right of a nasty, spiny, prickly bush.  I had to take a stance with one foot in the bush and one foot out
and simply hack that ball toward the green with a wedge.  Frankly, the shot was pretty damn good and the ball
wound up right on the fringe of the green.  Chip, putt…bogey.

On to the next hole...