What I like in a golf course part II
It is December and we are having a HUGE cold snap in Georgia. Yeah, I know. A cold snap in Georgia isn’t quite like the cold snaps I experienced in Ohio, or Michigan, when I used to live there. But, nevertheless, it is pretty darn cold.
In fact, I went out to play golf the other day in 25 degree temperatures. I called my usual clubs, but they were all closed due to “frozen greens.” Not frost on the greens, but frozen greens. After doing some research, I think I found that frozen greens are fine to play on…it is just when the grass is frosted over that the greens get
damaged. So, I was kind of ticked off that I couldn’t play that day. But I did call every golf course in the area until I found one that allowed play, River Pines, and tee times started at 12:30.
The sun was out, but it was cold when I started my round. Much to my surprise, there were two other people on the course. Frankly, I thought no one else would brave the elements. But as far as surprises go, this one was quite pleasant. More people like me, golf fanatics who needed a game…no matter what the conditions.
Hole #1 let me know that this would be no ordinary round. I couldn’t get my tee into the ground, so no driver would be used on this hole. Instead, I opted for 3 wood off the deck. With long johns, a jacket, winter golf gloves, and a stocking cap, my swing was a bit restricted but I did make contact with the ball and it went right down the middle of the fairway. In fact, I ended up hitting it 250 yards (which is about 35 yards longer than I usually hit my best 3woods). I would soon discover this type of thing would not be an uncommon occurrence on this round, as the fairways were frozen and friendly and long bounces and roll outs would happen time and time again.
My approach to the hole wasn’t great, I kind of fatted my approach iron and I was left with a 35 yard shot that I had to loft over a bunker to an elevated green. No worries, my flop shot had been working for me recently. And like I thought, I hit my 60 degree wedge perfectly. I lobbed that ball HIGH into the air and it came down just few feet short of the pin and SMACK that thing collided with the rock hard frozen green and shot sky high into the air. It was so loud the two golfers on the hole in front of me quickly turned their heads to see what had happened. Had someone been shot? Had a tree fallen over? What had happened? Nothing happened, just me lobbing a ball onto the green. Nothing unusual to see here!! The ball bounced again hard off the green and rolled about 10 yards off the back. This hole clearly let me know that my thinking cap would have to be on. Note #1, if approaching a shaded green assume it is frozen and hit the low running shot; not the high arcing one!!
This type of stuff continued through the day. Bunkers were frozen, some greens were frozen, while some thawed out a bit later in the round if they were in the sun, and fairways rolled out like a beast. Frankly, it was fun. Walking the course, essentially, by myself on a course that was playing as uniquely as anything I had ever played was really cool. And, in fact, it opened my eyes to something I really enjoy about the game…adventure.
I like feeling like I am on an adventure on a golf course. I like having my golf bag strapped to my back, like my rucksack when I was on patrol in the Marine Corps. I like marching up fairways and around doglegs to see what the adventure of the round has in store for me. The combination of the hiking and the golf seems to be pretty cool. Add in a well routed course over interesting and varied terrain, and I am in golfing heaven.
I’ve felt this type of adventure rush at The Golf Club in Ohio, especially as I traversed holes 13 through 17.
Harbour Town as well. The tight corridors always yielded something amazing. Maybe it was the mammoth bunker at the end of 13. The Stairway to Heaven coming out of the corridors and finally seeing the waterway at 17 green. And the liberation of the ultra-wide 18th fairway. And, of course, the magnificent Ballyneal. That is an adventure and a thrill ride wrapped into one.
Now don’t get me wrong, the wonderful journey around the historical East Lake is cool; caddies carrying your bags, the magnificent clubhouse, and the wide open course. But it just doesn’t really have that adventure feeling. It is more like a luxurious experience rather than an exciting patrol. And everything has its time and place, but to put my golf bag on my back and explore a course with interesting terrain; oh man, that is cool stuff!