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.
So where do I go? We were given a list of courses that would offer discounts, but the one club that welcomed us with open arms was the Hyperion Field Club, no green fee, just pay for the cart. I got to play the front nine yesterday. The pro shop was welcoming and got me situated on their excellent practice facilities. Getting out on the nine, I google-mapped myself on my new iPhone, located via GPS, changed to satellite view, and got to see the entire layout from space -try it next time you’re on a new course -a great reason to get the iPhone.
If Wakonda is the beautiful, mysterious, raven-haired forty year old socialite that you began an affair with out of college, Hyperion is the tall summery blond next door that invites you in when your demanding paramour is off to Rio for a facelift and whatever else. While Wakonda demanded your constant and utmost attention and slapped you fiercely for transgressions, Hyperion doesn’t mind so much -she scrunches her pretty face, goes “oh no” and gives you a peck on the forehead. Number 8, which turns to the left and goes up a hill like a tanned leg stepping up a diving board ladder, didn’t mind so much when I hit my drive off the toe into the trees to the right.
First of all, I found my ball.
The approach was 160 yards up hill to an elevated green with tree limbs blocking a high iron. I chose to punch with my hybrid 3, keep it low and run it up. Did I say run it up? Wakonda would shriek, “that’s for peasants and Texans!” and throw her sherry glass at your head. My ball ran up the slope like a rabbit, Evel-Knieveled and rolled up the tier to rest 6 feet from the hole.
But fellow Wakondans before you celebrate, there are mousetraps in that dress. I took a triple on number 9, slapped silly for thinking the hole was easy.
Hyperion is a different experience, and in the end demands no less attention or imagination than Wakonda. It is in great shape. The facilities are top-notch and the staff are professionals.
I ended up shooting my handicap, but I lost no balls.