First stop was the Outer Banks of North Carolina, by way of a scenic drive through a colorful patchwork of (mostly) charming little beachy communities. Since it's still the offseason, not to mention unseasonably cold, the whole area was mostly quiet and empty.
The Wright Brothers specifically picked out this area to do flight experiments because of the high, persistent winds. Not that I knew about any of that prior to the round. That makes this officially an insane place to play golf. I did find out beforehand that Sea Scape was designed by Art Wall, the 1959 Masters champion and winner of quite a few PGA Tour titles--a bit of cred like that always adds some extra anticipation to a round.
I love this kind of attention to detail, it's usually a good sign.
A 4-iron and an 8-iron later and I was on the GIR. Golf is great.
Even though I had no shot to the green, this could've been a lot worse.
The greens are the only green things on this whole course.
Most of the greens are unguarded from the front to allow for low run-up shots. I didn't try that approach today, attempting instead to flight everything in the air, which got me into some trouble.
Dramatic looking approach to the 8th; trouble everywhere. I tried to fly a 5-iron in there and hooked it straight into the junk. Looking back, a cool shot would've been a low screamer that started well right of the bunkers and rode the banked left turn into the green.
The massive uphill approach on the same hole. I lost a tee-ball, then yanked a layup attempt into the shit and ended up taking a 10.
The approach to #15, where I hit a stupendous shot about 178 yards downwind to pin high, a triumph of planning and execution.
The 215 yard, par 3 17th, probably the hardest par 3 I've ever faced. Amidst thrusting winds, I tried to bail out way left and still managed to fly it into the water. Then after dropping near the hazard about 70 yards away, I skulled it straight into the junk behind the green, attempted (and failed) to poke it out of the bush, took an unplayable, then several more shots and ended up with a most ignominious sextuple bogey 9.
From the tee at #18, an L-shaped par 4. Made a good 3-wood swing here, a small atonement for the last hole.
My approach to the blind green was well hit but about half a club short. But at last I'll try a bit of links-play and putt this from off the green.
I mis-hit it with the putter, came up short and closed the round with a disappointing bogey. Oh well. Nice photo at least.
Statistically it was a disaster of a round, rife with all manner of bogeys (double, triple, quadruple, quintuple, sextuple), flubbed chips, inopportune (is there any other kind really?) three-putts, wanton penalty strokes. I played the back tees because 6,131 is supposed to be kind of short, right? Somehow though the short holes never really materialized--the persistent wind makes this a fairly long course.
Spiritually though it was a success. I had a blast. I can attribute the dismal score to many things but indifference is not one of them. This had to be the funnest time I've ever had shooting in the triple digits. Not only did I love the course, I got the whole damn thing to myself. On the third hole a disembodied stray ball flew into the fairway, presumably from an adjacent hole, and that ball was literally the only trace of human activity I encountered during the whole round. Not a single other person was seen on the entire course.
For me it always seems like the greatest swing breakthroughs happen on a course and not a practice range and that held true in this round. The numbers on the card all look horrible but screw it--there was a handful really good shots and they helped to solidify some swing thoughts (the 7-iron into 15 especially was a bit of a paradigm-shifter). I would've loved to play here again equipped with a bit of local knowledge, but the plan called for us to pack up and head further south...