#1 is a par 4, but it really plays like a par 5. It doglegs to the left, but topography serves to effectively lengthen the hole -if you land in the center of the the flat landing area, you end up with a 170 yard approach. If you fade right, you are looking at 190 to 200 yards. Slice it, and you now have a downhill lie effectively eliminating long woods. The perfect drive is a draw over the tree on the left that pitches you forward into the flat that is about 120 yards out. Anything less than perfect leaves you in the woods, tangled in the tree and into a sidehill lie out of dense rough, or you stop on the upslope. The upslope leaves you with a 150 yards to the pin, but because the green in elevated by 30 feet, you will land short if you sky it, but will run it through if you land too hot as the green is canted front to back and left to right. You need to hit a high shot with backspin that will go about 160 yards from a steep uphill lie. If you pitch it right, you end up in a wooded pit that requires a blind pitch up 20 feet around and under trees. If you draw it, you end up on the space between #1 and #4 with a tree that guards the right front of the green. And the green tilts away from you. When I get a par here, I feel like I’ve birdied the hole. A bogey is a good score. But at no point on the course does it seem unfair, except when the leaves fall making your balls difficult to find (even on the green).
On returning to Hyperion, I have to wonder if the members feel like they are being overrun. Looking at the start times, I saw more than a few Wakondites. DH and I played from the yellow tees and had a grand old time -he shot 88, I took 90 -my best score in Des Moines despite three double bogeys and a few near pars and birdies. It’s all about the putting. Here DH lines up on a dogleg right, fading the ball away from the trees to the left. The whole course is built into a hill that faces the south, and the sun sets about 10 minutes later than in the flatter parts of Des Moines. Being on a hill, many of the greens have confounding breaks, until you realize like on Wakonda #3, that the overall terrain (big hill) determines the break more than the shape of the green (which may look like it is pitched forward). Or as DH says, the break is toward the train tracks.
HAC coming up. Neighborly competition? I think not. In a different era, men from various burgs and shires would practice at archery, throw rocks at targets, hunt together, and sometimes to war together to fight bandits or some invader. Through this they got to know the measure of each other. Today, we live among strangers, driving to work like faceless cod schooling along the currents, and try to figure out who exactly it is our wives are talking about. Golf is all about getting the ball in the hole and not about that at all. Your scores will say one thing, but your behavior in the face of tribulation, your resilience, your resourcefulness, your truthiness, all will say other things that your wives have not a single clue about. See you at Legacy.
Wakonda Club is being revised. The old growth oak trees were shading too much of the greens for too long and had a tendency to fall after a bad storm. Climate change had rendered the summers too hot for grass seed laid down in 1930. So this past spring, the membership, which I believe has an extraordinary high number of golfists, decided to remake the club with the mission of making one of the toughest golf experiences I have ever had even more challenging. Trees would be felled (and double more planted) to allow for sunlight to hit the greens. The trial greens on Wakonda upper #2 and #10 showed that the new putting surface could equal what I experienced at Bethpage Black the week after the Open and the TPC in Jacksonville the week before the Player’s for the entire season. Wakonda shut down last weekend.
The tree on the right of the frame blocks the approach to a green which is sunken and hidden from view. It is just taller than a 60 degree wedge’s ball flight, and snags and deflects balls into a pit below and to the right which is about 10 feet lower than the green. The green tilts away from the fairway making it very hard to stop a low shot. The best shot from the right is a fade with a mid iron which lands at the end of the fairway and rolls onto the green. Needless to say, you’d rather be left, but there is a long bunker and then a row of oaks. I love this hole because success is rare.
You always hear people talking about great sporting events they witnessed on TV. I remember Reggie Jackson’s 3 home runs in the 1977 World Series, 1980 miracle on ice Olympics Hockey final, Nicklaus’ 1986 Masters victory, and Tiger’s 1997 Master’s, and last year’s Super Bowl. In fact, Tiger leads the list of things that have inspired me -his Pebble Beach Open, his first tournament win, his Hoylake win, and on and on. The funny thing is that I have become a bit numb to Tiger’s otherworldly greatness. Maybe it is because I am in medicine and can understand his pain and pathology.