As bad as I played yesterday, I went out to our practice facilities and chipped and putted, and hit a few balls. More than once, actually 6 times, my flops, chips, and sand shots hit the pin. My 30 footers lagged to inches. My drives faded on command, and drew on command, and there was even a straight shot on command. My seven iron hit the 150 yard target 6 out of 6 times. Makes me want to take up tennis.
Pictured here is Wakonda#1 with her fairways stripped. The rough we will keep, but the fairways and greens are going to be seeded with A1/A4 hybrid bent grass. Trees have been cut down to open a 8 hour window of sunshine to the grass. Can’t wait for May 2009. Googling A1/A4 hybrid bent grass, it comes up time again in relation to clubs renewing their greens because of encroaching old growth trees and climate change.
#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.