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Mace Meadows 7 August 2010

I enjoy playing match play events, it’s a one-on-one competition.  The format for the match play team is that every twosome has 3 matches.  Two individual competitions and team best ball; two points for a win, one for a tie and zero for a loss.  These are net, so strokes are given.

This time we started on No. 1 and I immeadetly had to give up a stroke.  The par 5s aren’t long here, but they are highly rated.  So I went down a hole to start off because even a short knocker can par a 491 yard hole.  But it was the only time I was down on the day.  My strategy was to stay close on the front nine and close out the match by 16.  Other than the first hole, I didn’t pull my drive out again until No. 11 and even then, only used it again on 15, 16 & 18.

The match got interesting starting on No. 10 because my opponent hit my ball in the fairway thinking it was his.  I was playing a TaylorMade penta and he had some TopFlite ball with totally different markings.  But he thought he was in the middle of the fairway while I was in the left rough.  Too bad for him.  I thought the penalty was a stroke and replay the shot, he ended up with a 5 to my 4, so he lost.  But then found out later the penalty is an automatic loss on his part.  I won No. 13 when he went into some woods and had to punch out, and then another on 14 when I reached the par-5 in 2 and two putted for a birdie.  He popped on No. 15, but we equalized with par/net-par so I had him at dormie.  Then lost the next two holes by 3-putting from the top of a slope and mucking up my approach on a par-3 so badly I needed to flop over a tree but stay short of a bunker, then try to get up and down from there.  Lovely.

We end up on No. 18 with both the team match and the individual match dormie in our favor.  I was pumped up and pulled out the driver since I almost got home in two in the practice round and my playing partner couldn’t talk me out of it.  Bad mistake, I pulled it into a grove of trees on the left side and lucked out by not going OB.  My opponent then hit the drive of his life to 210 out while my partner and his opponent put their drives OB off the same tree I hit.  (My partner had already closed out his match.)  My ball ends up in a puddle of water, so I get stance-and-clublength relief, which gives me about 4 feet of lateral clearance from the trees I have to get around.  The punch shot ends up about 160 out.  The opponent is a little hemmed in as there are trees down the right side of the fairway so he can’t play a draw and a bunker guards the front left so he can’t hit a cut onto the green.  His play cuts into the bunker and I walk up to my shot and hit a lovely 7-iron to 11 feet of a blue flag.  He’s able to put his bunker shot to 5 feet, so we’re faced with a possible tie for both team and individual.  Both my partner and I read the putt with a left to right and I cut it in for the birdie and no-worse-than-half on the hole, guaranteeing our win.  My opponent was a little stunned, he thought he could make his putt and still have an effect on the match, but it was to no avail.  So I won 2 points on that putt.

As we waited around for the results, I found out the first group got 0 points, and we came in with 6.  It ended up that we tied Mace Meadows 18-18 in the format, which put us at a 2-0-1 record, winning our league and guaranteeing a playoff spot.  Glad I ended up making that putt.

Mace Meadows Tuesday 3 August 2010

Went up to Mace Meadows to play a practice round for the match play league I compete on.  Course is quite short and at 3000′ of elevation, plays even shorter.  Sadly the course is not in good condition, the irrigation system is clogged up so water gets to some areas while not getting to others.  The bunkers are true to their definition; a layer of silt over mud is truly classified as a hazard.

Anyway, started on the back nine first.  Birdied two holes by putting a close wedge from a nice drive.  Annoyed my chip on No. 18 was poor so I had to settle for a par instead of a third birdie.  Started playing worse on the front nine, my shots weren’t getting rewarded.  I mean, when a 75 yard pitch shot on No. 2 hits the green and takes two bounces off the back to set me up for a downhill chip shot…That and No. 6 has a pond in the weirdest layup zone I’ve ever seen on a golf course.  Could’ve been better, could’ve been worse.

Swenson Park (Stockton, CA)

This course is the fraternal twin of Bing Maloney in Sacramento.  Both are 27 hole courses (an 18 plus an exec 9) built in the mid 50s and now surrounded by housing.  The total course elevation change can be measured in inches.

The greens are generally elevated off the fairway, so add another 2-4 yards for your approach shot.  They’re thick to the point where all my fairway shots with some trajectory held in position and stopped within 4 feet of impact (with a Srixon Z-Star and a Nike One D).  Most putts within 15 feet break less than a ball length and 40 foot putts have two cups or less.  So it’s pretty easy to fire darts and aim at the hole to make your putts.

Three of the par-5s are rated 16-17-18 and the other is 9th.  All are reachable from the blue tees, and even more so from the whites.  None of them are upwind either, so these should be scoring holes for most golfers.

The course has some teeth in its par-3s.  Three are 190+ yards and are a good 4-iron from the tee, the other is a 6/7-iron onto a crafty green that has some wicked slopes.

Most of the par-4s are straightaway types with runway type fairways.  However, Nos. 5-6-7 are rated 3-1-5 and require a little strategy.  No. 6 is a slight dogleg left with trees lining the landing area both right and left.  Apparently players had hit into the trees so often, the course affixed numbered signs on some of the oaks so golfers could point out that “it went in by the 2″ and could be easily found.  The best play is a 3-wood off the tee to land the shot short of the tree line right.  Any play too far to the right will have to deal with overhanging branches or the trees themselves.

No. 7 is a severe dogleg left protected by ancient oak trees in the middle of the fairway around the 150 mark.  A high drive could possibly clear them, but there is no bailout area left or right, and any shot that gets wood will be knocked down or kept within the forest jail.  A smart play is a low iron or 5-wood from the tee towards the 150 mark and hope to keep it within a 12 yard box that is clear of branches for the approach shot in.  If not, a low stinger will keep you away from some brambles and roll up onto the apron.

There is one long par-4 on the course, No. 12 is 464 yards from the blues and 455 from the whites.  The hole itself is not difficult, merely lengthy, and players may wish to treat it like the other par-5s on the course: reachable in two.

The only difficulties anyone should have on this course is if they get into the woods.  The trees are dense and catch shots, but other than on Nos. 6 & 7, will not affect normal play.  Keep it in the fairway to maximize roll and fire shots at the pins to shrink the greens and the round should not be too difficult.

Swenson Park Saturday 31 July 2010

Here’s the round from today’s tournament match.  The last round was from the blue tees, apparently the match play events are from the whites, so I shaved off 300 yards.  Shot a 74, and had three birdie putt chances that ended up about an inch outside the hole (short, right and left-so I missed them in every direction.  Didn’t have a birdie today, but I did win the match 2 & 1 on the 17th with a 45-foot eagle putt that curled in nicely.  Also put the team dormie with that.  No 3-putts, had some par saves from 4-6 feet out and two of the bogeys I had were due to getting in the trees and not getting out good enough.  Didn’t get on any of the par-3s in regulation, though I did get up and down on two of them to save par. Plus Ancil won 19-15, so good day.

Swenson Park Wed 21 July 2010

Came out to Swenson Park in Stockton, CA for a practice round.  I’m playing on the NCGA Match Play team for Ancil Hoffman and one of our matches is down here.  Course reminds me of Bing Maloney (scorecard and review to come later) and they recently switched 9s, so No. 10 is the start of the front nine.  With that, I ended up chipping in and putting in from off the green on both the par-3s for birdies and doubt that’ll happen in the match.  No 3-putts and I got up and down pretty well, all the par-5s are reachable in 2, though I only managed that on one hole.  Every hole I bogyed was because I put the ball in the trees off the tee, if I kept it in play, it was a par/birdie without a problem.  Not too difficult a course.

Ancil Hoffman Wednesday 7 Jul 2010

Carrying a bag can get a little tiring, and it especially wears you down in 90+ degree weather.  This is why I play in the morning when it’s cooler and have scaled back on playing days back-to-back.  But since it was in the mid-80s yesterday, and I could get the twilight rate starting at 2pm, I plunked down 20 bucks and went out.  Might have been a better idea to stay at home.

Went +4 on the first three holes and turned over my hands on the drive.  Birdied No. 6 by putting a 6-iron from 165 to within 4 feet.  Then decided to double the next three holes by what I colloquially call fiddle-farting around.  The backside wasn’t any better.  Though we played in a little over four hours, our twosome was right behind a foursome that would finish teeing off just as we were walking off the green and had to wait on every hole.  Nice of these guys to let us play through.  The greens were also much firmer in the afternoon, I’m wondering if that’s why I had three 3-putts.  Plus my back starts to ache after I’ve played the day before and am waiting to hit, letting myself stiffen up.

Ancil Hoffman Tues 6 Jul 10

More of a disappointing round than anything else.  Left three birdie putts just short, on Nos. 2 and 10 and lipped out a couple of par putts on Nos. 1, 8 and 18.  I tried to recover from a couple of bad shots in a dumb way on 6 and 15, which accounts for the double and bogey there.  Put my drive to within 250 on 18, then put the approach hole high but left next to the 10th teebox.  Four shots in from there for bogey.   No 3-putts at least.  Play smarter next time I guess.

Cherry Island Thurs 24 Jun 10

Yes, I know the scorecard says the 25th, just go with me here.  New course back in the rotation, I haven’t put up a review yet, but here’s some highlights of the course:

-Large greens, at least 8 yards longer and/or wider than Ancil’s.  Plus the greens have contours and sidehill putts.

-Course is 300 yards shorter, plus there’s much more wind.

-The fairways aren’t tight per se, but there aren’t bailout areas on the course.  There are some forced layups (Nos. 1, 3, 6, 10, 16 & 18) which break it up a bit so as not to go into a creek or man-made lake.

As for today’s round, I ended up +4 on the last 3 holes.  My 5-wood on 16 took a bad bounce and went into the right side lake.  And I forgot to hit a 3-wood off the 18th, so my drive went long and messed up approach.  Though it’s a par-5 with a creek cutting through the fairway, with a nice tailwind, it is reachable.  28 putts with two birdies on the back kept me in the game, but missed another couple of birdie putts on Nos. 2 and 7.

Ancil Hoffman Tues 22 Jun 10

What a horribly underwhelming round.  I’m beginning to notice I play a few strokes worse on the Tuesday leg of a Mon/Tue schedule, so I think I’m going to switch to Monday morning and Thursday afternoon.  I got into trouble on No. 6 by pushing my drive into the right side, putting my approach shot into a short bunker and skulling the shot over the green.  On No. 8 I pulled my drive left, pushed my 220-yard approach shot right, went into the trees, stayed there and came out with a double.  Three 3-putts on the back nine didn’t help matters, and only one fairway for the day.  Though I did have a number of drives that were in the first cut.  Six GIRs are meaningless when I have 20 putts on the back 9.  Guess I used my quota of chip-ins and birdies the day before.

Also on the upside, I went out as a single and was essentially the second group of the day.  Passed a twosome on the 2nd hole and had someone sneak out onto the back with me.  We played 16 holes in 2 hours and caught up with a tourney with a shotgun start.  Their last group started on 14, so it took a twosome walking the same amount of time to play 7 holes as it did a foursome in a cart to play 2.  Lovely.  Last two holes took half an hour to play.

Ancil Hoffman Mon 21 Jun 10

I had four chances at birdie from about 15′ and missed every putt by about two inches on the high side every time.  The ones on No. 2 and No. 7 hurt the most.  On No. 18, I had a 14′ birdie putt going uphill with a left to right break.  The ball dipped down into the hole before dipping out and making a left turn.  I put an eagle pitch from 30 yards out on No. 10 to 3 inches, which would have been nicer had it gone in.  But on the next hole, I chipped in from 8 yards out, just off the green, for a birdie.  What made it an 80 though was the double on 4, the 3-putt on 14 and the bogey on 15.  I normally par each of these holes, so this could have been a 76/77 easily.

On another positive note, I played as a single and went through about 4-5 groups to finish in about 2.5 hours.  I’ve had 9-holes at Ancil that have taken longer.