Winter Golf

As I walked to the 1st tee, I could see Doug & JP limbering up their stoved up extremities in preparation for that first crucial hit of the day. It’s always a challenge, that first drive, but they almost always hit it down the middle so the ball winds up somewhere in the mud at the bottom of the first hill. We’ve learned that hitting high drives isn’t conducive to finding that first drive because it will invariably bury itself in the muck and become a lost ball. In the middle of the fairway. Just one of the challenges we face on every trip around the course.

To the right of the 1st tee box is a pasture where cows roam, sometimes wandering over to the fence to watch us play, hoping we’ll hit it over their heads so they’ll have something to add to their collection of balls. I generally do that, but not today.

Instead, I line myself up, cock my arms and fire away, driving the ball about 8 feet off the ground toward the left side of the fairway, where the trees are. Trees are another one of my downfalls. I almost always wind up in a forest. This time, however, my ball rolled through all of those trees to the bottom of the hill leaving me a clear 2nd shot to the left toward the hole. After Doug & JP duff a couple of shots, I take aim with my unreliable 5-wood and fire away. It’s a good connection and the ball sails up as planned and through some straggly little branches of a birch tree which slows the ball just enough to stop it at the top of the hill.

Ahead of me the fairway goes out and dips into another soggy mess before rising again to the green which is still about 300 yards away. Using my 5-wood again, I make it to the bottom of the hill, duff it a couple of times before making it to the green, and 2-putt for a 7. Not bad since it’s a par 5 and I usually wind up with a 10. Doug & JP do much better with a 5 & 6. They’ll do whatever it takes to beat me, but I don’t mind.

The 2nd hole is only 156 yards and is reachable with a 6-iron for those who can actually hit it the direction they think they are aiming. That’s not me, at all. I only know the general direction my ball will go, but I can hit it a long ways on the rare occasions when everything comes together. Today wasn’t one of those. My ball sailed safely into the trees, but in such a manner that I was able to find it without much trouble. Both Doug & JP were just short of the green in the middle of the fairway. Typical of them.

Oddly, even though I was in the trees, I had a fairly safe shot to the green. I didn’t make it, but it could have been done by pretty much anyone else. I got on the green with my sand wedge, one of my favorite clubs, and only had to putt three times ending with a 6 for this par 3. Doug & JP had 4 & 5.

Hole number 3 is a long par-4 with an added challenge of a swamp to the right, and a stream to the left, that curves in front of the elevated green. With a good drive, you can make it across on the 2nd shot, then 3-putt for a 5. I’ve done that once. Today, however, was a typical shot to the creek on the left, duff for 15-20 feet, then a good fairway shot that falls 1.5 feet short of the green, landing in the creek, then a chip from the line of sight location, and a rare 2-putt for an 8. Doug & JP end nonchalantly with a 5 & 7.

The 4th hole is a dog-leg right, around a very tall forest. At this time of year these trees have no leaves so it’s possible, with lots of luck, to shoot right through them with no problem. All the leaves on the ground, however, make finding your ball impossible ir you don’t make it. I’m almost always out in the middle of those threes and have had some success zigzagging my way through them to the back of the green. This hole is also par-4 so I’m resigned to my normal 8, but surprise myself by playing safe and getting back to the fairway on my first shot, then hitting the sand trap, and successfully getting it from there to the green on the first try. So, it’s on in 4 and a 2-putt for six. Doug & JP get 5-6, so I finally tied JP on a hole! I should have quit then when it appeared I was on the way to better things. But, hole 5 beckoned us.

The cart path wanders past the only toilets on the course but they can’t be used because they are locked with chains and padlocks. It doesn’t matter because we always use the bushes anyway, normally at the back of the tee box on #4. It’s relaxing for us to stand there, letting go, and talking about trivial things. It seems appropriate.

Number 5 is a long par-4 dog-leg left around another small forest. Doug & JP almost make the edge in the middle of the fairway and I hit a line drive right at the next to last tree before the corner. When I get to my ball I decide to play it safe and just hit ahead to the corner so I will have a clear shot to the green. Normally I just plow my way through the trees which, in years past, I could actually hit over. My shot to the corner kind of worked on the third shot, and I continued on to the green. My 4th shot was just a little ways past the pin and about 10 feet off the green on the low side meaning I’d have to make another iffy chip shot before I could safely do my standard 3-putt. Which I did.

At #6, a dog-leg right, I fluffed a couple of shots off the green but they didn’t count because the agreed upon DCTO rule was in effect. My third try was much better, but still hit a tree and landed right next to JP’s ball. He played safe, but I, once again, chose to ignore the trees with expected results. I finally ricocheted my way to the green and wound up with only a 2-putt to end it. Both Doug and JP worked their way down the fairway with much better results.

Hole 7 is a fun 3-parr because you must hit across a valley of sorts to reach the green. JP hit about halfway up the hill toward the green, as did I, and Doug made it to the top, but to the right of the green, behind a tree. Somehow I was able to make it to the green in two more shots, as did JP & Doug. We all 3-putted, the only tie of the day for me, I believe. That was my success of the day.

The 8th hole is a long dog-leg right and the first leg is all downhill and flattens out at the corner to the green. The ideal shot, which I’ve done more than once, is to hit all the way to the bottom where a good golfer can make the green in two. I’ve also done that, but it’s rare. This day it took me three shots to reach the bottom, another two to turn the corner, then I shot a wedge that actually hit the green making it necessary for me to repair the dent my ball made, a task I’m not overly familiar with. I usually roll on the green from somewhere out on the fairway. From there I 2-putted and headed for #9. Doug & JP both had difficulty with 8 but not as much as I did.

Just for fun, even though I didn’t have honors, not something we ordinarily observe, I teed off first and whacked my ball over the hill that rises up to the elevated fairway from the tee box. I hardly ever make the top without sailing 2-3 balls off into the ditch to the right that is out-of-bounds. When that happens we don’t count them because of the DCTO rule. Both Doug & JP made it over the top, too, just like they normally do.

My second shot went a bit right, behind the copse of birch trees but they still aren’t too tall for me to hit over, which I did. My ball headed for the sand trap and was stopped by a rake that was left in just the right spot to keep my ball from rolling all the way in. A chip, and three putts later I had my customary 7. Doug & JP, or course, made their way down the middle of the fairway just fine and ended much better. But, after applying the Gimmees and Mulligans that I hadn’t used I still wound up with a respectable 39 for this round, beating them both because neither of them are allowed either of those handicap helpers.

So, there you have it. A typical round of golf on a beautiful Oregon day.

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