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Friday, August 9, 2013

Round 3: Indian Valley

Wes decided we'd play our 3rd round at his home course, Indian Valley Golf Club.  It's a pleasant place.  Golf there is always relaxing for me and I enjoy the course challenges.  The water hazards of South Carolina courses are replaced by terrain variations that I don't routinely deal with, so in order to stay competitive I need to think through my shots more carefully when I play Indian Valley.  There's a good bit of up and down and tilt on the fairways, and the greens tend to be much softer than those at home -- just some different conditions, but over the years I've learned how to make adjustments to my game to take advantage of a different set of opportunities.

One of the features that I most enjoy at Indian Valley is the layouts for the par 3s.  They're all built on hills and incorporate hillsides into the tee shot.  The dramatic changes in elevation from the tee boxes to the greens creates a visual funnel that makes them a bit easier for me to play than the flatter layouts at my home course.

I also enjoy the challenge of teeing off onto a fairway that's running slightly laterally across a hillside.  There's a little more to take into consideration than simply hitting the ball straight, and that additional factor just makes course management more interesting.  Simply put, I enjoy the change of scenery and change of conditions when I play golf in California.  For me, the environmental variations are part of the charm of the game of golf.

So, Wes and I warned up a bit on the driving range and the practice green, I lost my pitching wedge somewhere between the parking lot and the 1st tee, and there was a bit of a flutter while it was located, but after several people were dispatched by walkie talkie to check out the range and the practice area, Wes found it right where I'd left it, propped against a rack by the starter.

I'm not old enough to be losing track of my clubs, but this pitching wedge has been a problem for the past 3 days.  I walked off and left it greenside at both Mare Island and Bodega Harbor, and the groups behind us picked it up and brought it up to me.  I haven't been entirely happy with it, quite frankly.  It's an old wedge and feels a bit clunky, so I sense that this current absentmindedness is probably the prelude to a new wedge.

Well, the wedge tucked back into my bag, we teed off and the fun started.  I finally got in synch with my flat stick today and my ball was running straight and true.  That was a relief, because I'm such a short hitter that I have to be able to get up and down if I'm going to stay competitive with Wes.  And I was very competitive on the putting surface today, even though I was generally short off the tee.

I was up 4 at the turn.  Wes, who's struggled on the green for the past 3 days, has taken to putting with his 3 wood, and it was working well, but my little putter was working better.  That happens in the game of golf.  But then, 4 up is nothing to brag about with 9 holes remaining.

I wolfed down a hot dog at the turn and started slurping a yellow Gator Aide.  The combination of fat and sugar is exhilarating!  My body perks right up and is ready to go some more!

Wes took 10 and I took 11 with 2 amazing putts on a very large upward sloping green, sinking a 25' putt that left me breathless as I watched it roll, and roll, and roll some more and, finally, drop with a plink into the cup.

16th Tee box, over the cliff, to the fairway!
Then Wes took 12 and we started 13 with me 3 up.   It's a very challenging par 4  The fairway slopes from left to right all the way from the tee box to the green, but to complicate matters, the first half of the fairway is downhill and the 2nd half is steeply uphill; and the green is nicely protected by a couple of strategically placed bunkers that can really snarl things up if you're playing your approach shot uphill, which was my situation.  I gave it everything I had with my 9 iron and got on the green in 3 and was lined up with a 5' putt for par.  Wes was at the front false edge of the green in 2 and he pulled out that 3 wood, hit it too hard, and rolled uphill, past the pin, into the 2nd cut at the top of the green, lying 3.  I had him.  I just knew I had him.  He had a long downhill putt from just off the green.  It was at least 2 shots and would easily end up being 3.  Wes was out so I stepped back and waited.  Out came the 3 wood again, and he stroked his ball like it was a delicate flower.  His ball rolled, and rolled, and rolled, and dropped into the cup for a par, doing to me what I'd done to him on 11.  We could have halved the hole if I hadn't 3-putted and ended up with a double bogey.

We halved 14 and Wes took 15 and 16, and we were all square with 2 holes to play.  I took the little par 3  and was 1 up going into 18.  We both played that hole so badly that we had to put paper bags over our heads in order to return the cart.  Between us we lost 3 balls, played only 2 shots from the fairway and, in an 11th hour recovery of our golfing skills, had 2 putts each.  After all that effort we halved the hole, and I won the match.

Then I took us out to eat at Star, the local down-home restaurant with a 5 page menu and some of the best chocolate cream pie I've ever tasted.

The next match is scheduled for Thanksgiving.