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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Interclub at Persimmon Hill

Lunch at Persimmon Hill
Once a month from March through October I play a delightful round of golf with a group of women from neighboring golf clubs.  We play the Stableford system, we play fast, and there are stakes.  As club teams we play for an annual trophy that's rotated among the participating clubs and won (or lost) based on each club's ladies association cumulative score.  And I have a standing side bet with Peggy Smith because I feel that it's not golf if I'm not gambling!

Right now the trophy is at Star Fort.  The annual reckoning will come next month when we gather to play at Hunter's Creek.

But that's next month.  We played Persimmon Hill today, then we ate lunch.

I always look forward to playing Persimmon Hill.  The course has a muni flavor to it.  It's been there, out in the sand-hills between Saluda and Johnston for half a century, and it has a very special, down-home country ambience.  When I started playing golf again after my 30-year break, and was struggling with making a connection between my ball and my club face, I used to sneak off to Persimmon Hill on Sunday mornings and practice where nobody knew me.  Then, when the Sunday buffet went up about noon,  I'd put my clubs back in my car and gorge myself with country ham, red-eye gravy, friend vegetables and banana pudding, then slip back down the road, and take a cholesterol- soaked nap.

I'm told the 18th hold at Persimmon Hill is the longest par-5 in South Carolina, but I can't verify that claim.  It is, however, very long.  Even with a perfect drive and 2 perfect fairways shots with my 3 wood, I can't get on the green in regulation.  There's always a chip at the end, and the green on that hole is devilish.  It slips and slides and dips and undulates and twists around a trio of bunkers in a way that makes 1-putts very unlikely.  The first time I actually pared the hole I really felt like I'd taken a big step forward in my game!  So I always play it fondly.  Today I bogied it.

Persimmon Hill is a deceptive course.  It looks like it should be easy.  It's flat.  The fairways are broad and open.  For the most part the bunkers are shallow and don't have nasty lips.  If you're thinking we all made our points today because it sounds like Persimmon Hill is a walk in the park, you'd be very wrong.
Persimmon Hill 12th Hole

For starters there are some very interesting water hazards at Persimmon Hill.  I finally figured out how to play the 12th hole today.  In this view from the red tees, the fairway is actually left of the cart path and while you can't see it, trust me when I tell you it's sloping dramatically toward the water.  The ultimate destination, as you've probably guessed, is in the center of the photo, on the far side of the pond.

I've always tried to play the hole by driving the ball to the left side of the fairway and letting it run laterally toward the water, then make a layup to the grass right beside that point where the fairway curves toward the water.  From there it's just a little less than 100 yards to the green, which is very elevated.  If I make a solid shot, I'm on the green.  But if I don't hit the green on my 3rd shot, the ball rolls down the elevated front, bounces a couple of times on the rock wall at the water's edge, plops into the water, and drowns.  But wait, there's a drop zone on the other side of the water, behind and above the green.  So, I reasoned today, why not drive for the water.  That would make it in on 1, out on 2, carry over for 3, drop for 4, gentle flop onto the green for 5, 1-putt for a bogie and a point.  This solution didn't come to me until I'd watch my ball sink, yet again, to the bottom of the pond in front of the green.

I thoroughly enjoyed my round today.  The company was delightful.  I shared a cart with Helen Hughes who's a precise and careful golfer and a very pleasant companion for a day of golf.  And I played with Aileen Abrams, who always teaches me something when I golf with her and who's been my hero for years, and with Pat Sarver, who plays strong, aggressive golf with extraordinary good humor.

None of us made our points.  The greens were putting like they had velcro on them and we just didn't seem able to make the adjustment in time to save our rounds.    I didn't mind handing over my dollar to Peggy Smith.  She assured me she'd put it to good use, and I'll eventually get it back anyway.

The weather was glorious -- the sweaty time of the golf season has passed now and the finger-numbing time hasn't arrived yet -- and the company good.  What more can one ask on a fall day?