First Round of the Year

I played my first round of golf at Wakonda for 2012 yesterday. I was in fact the first one to play at 8am -usually there is a morning crew on Saturdays that plays early despite the elements but none were present. I suspect that they like everyone else, was waiting on the 60+ degree weather later in the day. It was around 40 degrees when I teed off, but I was inspired. I parred the first hole which leaves me generally happy if nothing else happens during the round. It was the perfect drive that faded ever so slightly away from the blocking tree on the left and landed 170 yards away from the green. With the pin forward and middle and green elevated about 20 feet, with an aggressive 1-2 club wind cutting left to right, I barrel rolled a slightly drawn 5 iron that lifted into the cross wind and straigtened out, landing hard on the front slope and rolling without momentum onto the green, ending up 8 feet away from the hole. Missing the birdie, I made a 4 footer for par.

The rest of the round was a story of trying to trick the wind, but I got handsy and it showed. The 9th hole capped a decent round for me with a par -an 8 iron sent 165 yards with a stiff wind at the back, landing on the fringe, a running chip to 4 feet, and putt for par. This leaves me with a great deal of hope for this year, my final year at Wakonda to hit par. And that is bittersweet because my favorite place to be in Iowa is at the Wakonda Club on a Saturday morning before sun up, when the pro shop and first tee are shrouded in blue twilight. May the ball ever find the hole for you.

It Begins

Of the public courses around Des Moines, I like the Legacy the best for tuning up my game. The private clubs are waiting for the course to drain of residual snow, but the Legacy will let you play about two to three weeks earlier. Bless them!

There were 15mph winds gusting to 25, and it was drizzling. Temperatures were a Scottish 40 degrees. Nae wind, nae rain, nae golf. The ground was sodden and this took twenty yards off every club. The greens were like the fake grass welcome mats. There was snow in the bunkers. Still I loved every minute of my nine holes.

I shot 48 with a 1.9 putting average, 5 of 8 fairways from the tips. My circle of certitude was the green. The approaches were all muddled -my most effective shot with this wind usually into the face was a punch-draw with my 7 iron -I did get pin high on 3 holes, but was in a bunker or off the green at pitch length. I’ll have to work on my irons, but I also credit the soggy fairways. I also counted two penalty strokes for ball in water (meltwater -would this be casual water and not subject to penalty -will have to review).

Cart Path of Destiny

img_0198Only 10 more days until they unleash the dogs onto Wakonda’s newly resurfaced fairways and greens. The loss of old growth oaks around the greens to ensure 8 hours of summer light may signify changes in the character of the course or just a hair cut. I favor the latter.

I recently started following Twitter and was amazed at the ability to narrowcast my interests to a likeminded group of people. The story of the week is Staff Sergeant William Vile’s disappearance -he is officially MIA (link). The action resulted in US casualties -follow it on http://www.milblogging.com and http://www.bouhammer.com. Political persuasion aside, you have to hear it from the people on the lines to make an informed opinion. As much as Huffingtonpost amuses me, to rely on any single news channel (includes you people tuning Fox in the doctors’ lounge) invites tunnel vision.

We’re on the 7th hole of 2009, and we’re going about 4 over. Hopefully, we’ll finish out this nine with a few birdies, including finding SSG W. Vile.

Golf on the Muni’s

img_0164With Wakonda still healing from the face lift, I’ve been playing the excellent public courses around Des Moines. Picture above was taken about this time, last year, good friend, JH addressing his ball on #9 at Sugar Creek. Every small community in Iowa has its 9-hole course. This one, Sugar Creek, is a municipal track, operated by the town of Waukee. Growing golf turf is very close to growing corn, and the greenskeeper here takes particular pride in perfectly green fairways and putting surfaces. It costs less than 20 bucks to walk around 9 holes, rarely do you need a tee time -they’ll fit you in. Though distance challenged, it makes up for it in quality of the grass and accessibility. And that is it -access is what will keep this sport, and my nascent belief system, growing.

Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom

flowersSpring approaches and the sap rises from the root. The days are noticeably longer, and golf approaches. I feel ready this year, more than any other year. Two things are different -I have practiced through the winter and my swing is groovy when I keep my head down. The other is my mental outlook is different. I am dreading the putter far less this year than any other year because I am approaching it no differently than any other club in my bag. 

My experience on Sunday is illustrative of both my past and hopefully my future with the putter. On more than a few occasions, I got on in regulation at the tough Redstone course, site of the Shell-Houston Open Tournament in a few weeks. I three putted, but the reason I missed was mostly because of distance errors and not complete misreads, hurried slapdash efforts at shoving the ball in. The proof was in several putts made from over ten feet, and many 4-5 footers were made as well. 

The real secret sauce though was a mental trick picked up from Chopra’s book. It is based on yoga, and brings about the stillness that you need to execute shots. Good golf to all -I am vacationing in a secret location this coming week, but hopefully will be able to squeeze in a round if weather permits. 

PS -We saw several snakes during the round at Redstone including a poisonous water mocassin. I think that these fellows will likely come into play in the marginal areas around the water hazards. The course has few OB’s but is ringed in red hazards.