Previously on Legitimategolf.com, I issued myself a challenge: in these waning moments of the calendar year, try and beat my best score of '13. And now the first attempt is in the books--a 92, 22-over par from the black tees at Silver Lake. I know. Scorewise it is an abject failure. I blew up the round early with an 11 on one hole. Besides that it was a complete success though I suppose.
It all started with the smashing of a different sort of record--the most insane tee-time deal of the year. 18 holes, before noon, $8.99 out the door. With cart. Egads, at a price like this one cannot afford to not play.
The first/tenth teebox is a good vantage point to see what's going on over a big portion of the course. I saw some people scattered around the front nine, but none on the back. I started on #10 and ended up burning a cart trail through the entire course without butting up against a single person.
|Even though you could barely stick a tee in the ground, it was easy to hold the greens, even with a full 5-iron|
I struggled on the first few holes. It was cold, near freezing, and while it didn't really bother my person it made for weird conditions on the ground. Underfoot it felt frozen solid, yet it played mostly slow and receptive from tee to green. I kept waiting to see the ball bounce but it never really did. Elsewhere the turf was downright poopy in places. Greens looked fast, rolled slow. Mentally it was a strain to try and reconcile it all.
By the way this is how you make 11 in the middle of an otherwise decent round. #15 at Silver Lake is a short par 4 of 333 yards, but due to an unforgiving hazard can be quite the ball-buster.
Water running up the right-hand side is the bane of all hacky golfers. Nevertheless, there is room for all manner of tee shots here. If you are feeling saucy you can try and drive it near the green. Alternatively, taking the more chicken route up the left side, taking on as little of the hazard as possible, you only need to carry it about 140 to be safe. I usually take a moderate line with a 4 or 5-iron.
It's a devilish kind of hazard because it's easy for the rank amateur to think he is aiming well left when he actually might be setting up for a big over-the-top slice into the water. Which is probably what happened to me. Thrice. Clearly I had a momentary swing breakdown. Looking back though, the third ball in the water was probably more a failure to recognize said breakdown and re-strategize accordingly.
I had a couple other rough holes, but produced some good play throughout the rest of it. I'm still committed to the 2013 challenge and I'll still give it all I can, but now I realize how severely the odds are against me. Swinging feels stupendously good right now, but it is flat out difficult to score out there. Good golf is always sort of played on a razor's edge, but when the temperature gets near freezing, something happens and the peril and uncertainty inherent to the game loom larger for some reason.
Besides the letdown of shooting 92, and the agony of making a septuple-bogey, it was hard not to feel satisfied about the whole thing. A couple of rough patches ate some extra time, but I still got done in under two and half hours. Folks, this is about as time- and money-cheap as golf gets within the physical realm. I realize that there are many people in this golf world who in their entire golf lives will never get to play 18 holes in under 2:30, or for less than nine bucks. With cart. It was a thin slice of utopia. I mean just imagine if only golf could be enjoyed like this all the time, how easily it could be incorporated into life. That is the dream I guess.
This round was also a coup in that I think that I have now graduated from mere apprentice in the dark arts of winter layering to something approaching master level. Recently I added a pair of REI poly-fleece tights to my winter armory and wore them out to the course for the first time, underneath my usual rain pants.
It's one thing to be warm, but when you and your gear have managed to achieve total warmth, exhilarating mobility and supreme comfort, then you are truly winning. This isn't just a comfortable winter getup--it might be the most comfortable pant situation of the whole freakin' year. I am considering dressing like this every day for the rest of winter.
My personal Cold Resistance Rating having been boosted by several points, I'm now totally ready for anything a tri-state winter can muster (which in the grand spectrum of winter calamity is pretty tame, I know). Soon the opportunity/onus of playing a round in sub-freezing temperature will be at hand, and you know what, I'm actually looking forward to it.