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Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Barb and Shirley and I piled into Barb's van yesterday morning and took a little road trip to the Golden Hills Golf & Country Club Club for the last Sandlapper tournament of the season.  There's no more organized interclub play now until March.  Everyone's hunkering down for the Thanksgiving-to-New Years holiday season, and then golf slows down as we navigate a couple of cold winter months.  Well, I know winter's a relative concept.  We're in South Carolina.  It's nothing like Michigan.  But we do need to wear sweaters and sometimes we need winter gloves during January and February.  The Magnolia Blossoms among us tend not to play much golf.

Neither Shirley nor I have ever played Golden Hills.  Barb thought maybe she had, but she couldn't remember much about the course.  All we knew, really, was that Alma didn't want to go because, as she explained to me, I hate Golden Hills.  

We speculated off and on during our hour-long, early-morning drive, about why Alma hates Golden Hills.  A problem with the greens?  That's the only viable explanation we could conjure up for disliking any golf course.

We arrived, unloaded, ate some breakfast -- I had a petite helping of a scrumptious egg, potato, and sausage casserole and some bread pudding with a generous amount of blueberries and raspberries in it.  Good that I ate oatmeal before I left home.  Otherwise I'd have exceeded my carb budget for the day before I got to the practice green, which was my next stop.

The balls were rolling just fine on the practice green, so I concluded that Alma's problem wasn't with the greens.

Things got a little clearer when we teed off.  We shotgunned, and my group started on #17, a par-3 that requires a 130 yard shot, all carry, across a small pond.  There are tricks.  Or do I mean strategy? I elected to hit last.  Three tee shots went right, two into thick shrubbery and muddy creek-side terrain, lost.  It was an expensive start for two of us.

But what was that about?  From where I was standing, beside the tee box, it looked like the shot should be straightforward to the green.  So I aimed left, watched my ball take off from the tee toward the left side of the green, then about half-way over the water start a funky swing to the right.  Fortunately, I'd made enough of an adjustment that I landed more or less on the front fringe, with what looked like a long straight putt to the pin.

Three putts later, having taken an unintentional tour of the right side of the green, I ended up with a bogey and the first hint of why Alma hates Golden Hills.  I figured I needed to pay closer attention to the lay of the land.

There wasn't a single tee shot at Golden Hills that behaved predictably.  Connie, one of the members of my foursome, suggested that the course designer must surely have been drunk when the layout was designed.  The entire round was full of surprises.  The backside of at least half the greens resembled a subtropical jungle.  The bunkers presented impossible challenges.  Little groves of trees jutted out into the fairways here and there, creating small obstacles that blocked our steady progress toward the greens  I finally figured out that my conventional sand shot was useless and started using my flop shot to get out bunkers.  Golden Hills was one challenge after another.

But my worst Whoops of the day came on the 10th hole.  Take a look at it.  The fairway slopes downward and curves right toward the water, but the slope is laid out in three tiers, and there's a big drop from the first to the second, and again from the second to the third tier.  In fact, the drop is so deep that from the tee box, you can't see a cart that's down on the second tier, with players getting ready to take their 2nd shot over the water and onto the green.

You know what's coming, don't you?

Typically, I don't worry about hitting into the group in front of me because I'm generally a short girl off the tee.  Because I didn't see anybody out in front of me, and because I really wanted to try to avoid a layup and get close enough to get over the water on my 2nd shot, I didn't hold back on my tee shot.  It went where I intended, and just as I was savoring the shot, watching it soar to exactly the right spot for my 2nd shot, a head popped up from the second tier, more or less aligned with my ball's descent path.


Barb was playing in the group in front of me.  That was her head I saw, and I was horrified.  I hit into the group in front of me only once before, and that, too, was an accident.  I simply didn't know I could hit the ball as far as I did.  Fortunately, I didn't hurt anyone that time or this time either, but there's a lesson to be had.  Patience is a virtue, in golf as in life.

I enjoyed Golden Hills and I'll play it again.  Life's not much fun without some challenges!

For those of us who, in the passion of the moment, occasionally forget the importance of safety, the USGA provides some Gentle Reminders about this important part of golf etiquette.  I re-read them today for myself.