Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Legitimate Golf Diaries, volume 2

Earlier in the year, having gotten intensely sick of the local golf scene I resolved to play less, and play elsewhere, hoping the quality of play would trump the quantity and in the process I'd get out and explore the golf planet a bit more.

On the FDR Expressway heading south, getting the hell out of here.
In this episode we peek into a secret, unknown world. The nice part of New Jersey. Let's face it this state has a terrible reputation, and for good reason. The interior of it though, is bucolic to the max, what must be the eastern end of America's heartland: lush crops, rolling hills, roadside farm stands, charming country houses, wide open horizons. I'd show you more photos and what not but dammit--this is a blog about golf.

Today's round was churned out at Cream Ridge GC, in the township of Cream Ridge, 63 miles south of Manhattan. Mmm sounds tasty already doesn't it. (Unless you don't like dairy that is.) It really is a farm-flavored course, surrounded by farmlands on all four sides--fields of cornstalks abut right up against the course, no fences or anything. If you stare long enough into the rows, you can creep yourself out pretty good.

He Who Walks Behind the Rows... plays golf too.
I'd describe the conditions as rural and rustic, which is to say some of the green surfaces might be shabby, fairways shaggy in some places, bald in others. Rough terrain that'll have you bouncing all around the cart if you're not careful behind the wheel. Swampy, funky water hazards teeming with fish, and frogs n shit. All in all though the conditioning's good enough to yield a fair game, and the layout jives really nice with the natural environment. I have no idea who designed the place and it doesn't seem to be a big name architect, but whoever it was did a fantastic job. There's a lot of variety to the holes, lots of different looks from the tees, and I really dug the look of the old-school tree lines.

It was humid, it was hot; a classic Northeast summer day, sweltering but not quite brutal. On the first hole a pulled approach shot was gobbled up by a water hazard left that I had no idea was there, and that left me feeling exploited and preyed upon for the first part of the round. Around the ninth hole though, the round began to turn around a bit.

#16 Tee

When I got up to the elevated back tee on the 16th, I looked out and POW, was knocked out by this terrific view. This is where I really got sold on the course. It's one hell of a narrow opening, with a creek bed lurking just beyond, but what a beautifully framed hole. Unlike a lot of other do-or-die tee shots, I saw no malice in this one. Some shots seem to want to taunt you, make you feel weak and terrified. This one though, I felt it spoke to me. Hey, golfer. I respect you, and your ability. This opening here is small, but I think you can make it. And why not?

I am way too inconsistent at this golf to be getting all metaphysical about my shots, but for whatever reason in this instance I happened to put a really nice tee ball through the chute. The swing felt so pure, I had to laugh a little right after the hit. Probably the best swing in months. All the while golden sun rays broke through clouds, illuminating a slight drizzle of cooling rain; a really nice moment.

The approach to 18
Kept that momentum going and for the last part of the round I managed to do something that has escaped me all year--finally took a ride on the Par Train. Of course I really wanted to ride it right on into the terminal, but to do so I had one last tricky approach, about 82y or so, facing a steep false front, pond on the right, and Three Putt City lurking up on the wrong tier of the green long and left, which is where I put an L-wedge. But I managed to rescue the par by holing about fifteen feet down the sheer face of the green to do it.

As that putt rolled Ms. LegitGolf, who played the round with me, made about the worst early call I've ever seen on a course, cheering the putt in with several feet left to go. Naturally that prompted a fairly stern finger wagging, even though the putt dropped.

I tend to come down pretty hard on the early call. Nothing to do with superstition (even if it's hard not to blame an early call for jinxing your ball out of the hole). Putts just have a way of missing, of either taking a wrong turn at the wrong time or even going in and then coming back out. And when that happens it's agonizing enough in complete silence. When someone blurts out YES!! right before the ball lips out, it piles on shame and degradation, making an already painful moment even worse, and what kind of person wants to do that.

But thankfully there was no jinx, and thus we were spared a potentially tense drive home. Despite the rough start it was an altogether really nice outing. Will definitely be back for more golf and to load up on more tasty farm-stand tomatoes and corns on the cob. The back nine was my first time breaking 40 for nine holes this whole year, and doing so on an unfamiliar, watery course leaves me feeling pretty good about the likelihood of getting back on that par train next time out.

1 comment:

  1. Good to hear you put together a solid nine. This year I have had the same problems scoring for a full 18.


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