I played 27 holes this weekend. My 9 holes yesterday were played in windy, cool weather and I got a 50 for my efforts. It was notable for a par on the treacherous second hole which has a tilted green. I hit 5 of 7 fairways yesterday but three putts and botched approaches made life difficult.
Today, I hit the reset button and armed with a new 58 degree wedge from Callaway, I set out solo onto an empty course. The picture above is from the first hole. My drive was directly into a 20 mile per hour wind which made the 48 degree weather a touch more miserable -hence the absence of players on an otherwise very golf-worthy Sunday morning. The drive was in the left rough off the first cut, leaving me 200 yards out on a sidehill lie that left the ball below my feet. I tried to play a duck hook around the tree, but I lost my balance and lucked out by having the ball settle on a steep upslope with line of site to the green.
The first hole at Wakonda is officially a par 4, but it really is a par 4.5, and with the wind, it was a stretch to make par. I was 150 yards out and the pin was in the middle of the green -the green tilts to the right and I had to land the ball center or left to get to a makable par putt.
The wind was going a sharp right to left and the green is a good 20 feet above me. The ball is on the upslope. I chose to fade a 5 iron -the upslope would take some of the distance off and the fade into the draw cross wind would straighten the shot, I hoped.
It is always here on number 1 where I have my most intense golf moments -where concentration and visualization becomes very clear and I decided to pour myself into this shot. I set up aiming slightly to the left of the pin and practiced a fade swing, trying to keep my head still and my shoulders in line with the slope. The shot I had in mind was “locked in” and the actual shot became the apotheosis of my mind’s vision.
The ball launched after a clean hit -this is so important on wet, sodden grass, and the ball kept climbing and going straight -this despite my having hit a near slice. The winding motion of the ball that normally creates a slice now was creating more lift with the right to left wind. The ball landed on line with the pin and I knew the ball would be 10 feet from the cup with a straight uphill putt (image -right).
I missed the putt by a hair, but still made a 5 which on this day was fine. I ended up with a 47 on the front -a great round given that I had great difficulties with my initial approach. After 18, I hit 10 of 14 fairways, but made only one green in regulation -this will require work. Despite this, I am still in bliss from the perfection of that approach on number 1.