Lessons from the first weeks of the 2016 golf season
It has been a barometric roller-coaster here in the Midwest so far this season, but the local crowd at Lake of the Woods Golf Course comprises a collection of hearty, moderately deranged golf fanatics who have braved some bizarre weather to get in their first rounds of the season.
We’ve been noticing lots of non-regulars, too, which is great for the course’s bottom line. For pace of play, however, these visitors are less great. You see, newbies at The Lake take a look at the scorecard and see that from the tips, it tops out at 6,578 yards. And from the members tees, it stretches to just 6,214 yards.
In this day of 7,500+ yard layouts, The Lake appears modest, and interlopers head instinctively to the back tees.
Case in point, the fearsome foursome who teed up in front of us a couple weeks ago. The combined weight of this sleuth of bear-like Bubbas was easily north of 1,000 lbs. And you could tell that they were eager to flex their muscles. So to the blue tees they strode, and, sure enough, two of them proceeded to drive their balls into the trees directly right of the white tee box. The other ones barely made it far enough to reach the start of the fairway, and not one ended up in the short grass.
It was going to be a long day.
On the second tee, as we were putting out on number one, we watched this same group test their “skill” from the back tees on Hole 2, which are 50 yards behind the white tees. Two of them hit the trees adjacent the red tees, and the other two rinsed their balls in the pond separating the tees from the fairway. As we stood on the white tees waiting to hit, we commented – loudly – on the fact that the guys who insisted on playing from the blue tees on a strange course were hitting their 2nd, and subsequently 3rd, shots from the ditch by the red tees.
Eventually, they reached Hole 3, a narrow par-5 with OB right and trees left. Predictably, two went OB right, and two went into the trees left, just beyond the end of the teeing ground.
To recap: that’s 4 brawny golfers, three holes, 12 tee shots, and not a single fairway hit. In fact, not a single tee shot long enough to even reach the fairway had they hit it straight.
What did we learn today, children?
Well, first of all, be honest with yourself about your game. If you can’t hit your driver more than 50 yards straight, you don’t belong on the back tees of any course. Second, don’t assume that length is the only measure of the difficulty of a golf course. The sad thing about this hapless foursome is that at The Lake, the main defense is the greens – some of the hardest to read I have ever seen anywhere in the world. Once these muscle-bound mashers finally got to putt, we watched them miss every putt they took. Third, when you’re playing a course for the first time, ask the staff which tees they would recommend for first-timers with handicaps like yours. Fourth, if you realize you’ve chosen the wrong tees, move up on the next hole.
This springtime tale of woe ends on a happy note, however. After a half-dozen holes with us standing on the tees audibly wondering why the group of good ol’ boys was playing their second shots from behind the red tees, we didn’t see them much anymore. So maybe they learned the fourth lesson, after all.
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