Sunday, September 13, 2009

Delaware Debacle

A nor'easter, poor play--especially putting--and even gunshots highlighted, or lowlighted, my annual Labor Day golfing vacation to the Delaware Shore. Cold, cloudy and windy weather, along with some heavy rains, cut my projected four rounds down to two, while gunshots interrupted a practice round after seven holes. Here then, is Fore at the Delaware Shore '09:

Crash Landing at Old Landing
Old Landing Golf Course
Rehoboth Beach
, Del

Yards: 2858/2872 – 5830
Par: 35/36 = 71
Rating: 67.6, Slope: 111
Score: 47/55 = 102
Date: September 4, 2009
My Delaware golf vacation began with a round at Old Landing Golf Course in Rehoboth Beach. Since the annual Labor Day family golf outing had been scheduled for Sunday, I felt this was a good opportunity to work with my new TaylorMade Tour Burner irons. I played with my cousin’s husband Steve, and Mike and Bud, who we met on the first tee. I felt good about playing at Old Landing since it was a course I have played many, many times. In recent years, the course had fallen into pretty bad shape, with both fairways and greens often having more dirt than grass. But they discovered that salt water for the adjacent bay had been getting into the irrigation system causing the problems. With that matter corrected, Old Landing had rebounded into a decent course once again. I played there twice last year, shooting in the low 90s.

Old Landing Scorecard

My round got off to a mediocre start, with a 7 and 6 at the first two holes, the second being a long 416-yard par four. But I then settled down and played bogey-golf over the next four holes. I wasn’t hitting the ball great, but I was scrambling well. I was still feeling my way with the new irons. At the Seventh Hole, a 472-yard par five that doglegs right, I made the type of mental mistakes that I have allowed to plague my game all year. After hitting a duck-hook just into the rough on the left, I had a slightly downhill lie. Instead of taking a 7-iron and hitting it up the fairway, I tried to muscle a 4-hybrid. I hit a worm-burner across the fairway into the right rough. Thinking I had a better lie than I did, I pulled out my 3-wood, which I promptly topped. Finally, I pulled out my 7-iron and hit a hard draw onto the left edge of the green. From there I managed to two-putt for a six. The Eighth Hole is a straight-away, 292-yard par four. After hitting a low 2-hybrid, I had less than 100 yards to a small green that slopes severely from back-to-front, with bunkers on both sides. I tried to play a chip-and-run with a pitching wedge, but the ball ran through the green into the back rough. A very weak chip and three putts left me with a disappointing six. The front nine finishes off with a short, 122-yard par three. I hit pitching wedge to 10-ft above the hole and two-putted for my first par and a front nine 47. Not real good but not real bad either. I felt as if I was starting to get into a bit of a groove as I headed to the back nine.

The 18th Green at Old Landing

The back nine got off to a better start with a five at the 399-yard Tenth Hole. The Eleventh Hole is a 196-yard par three that plays very long, even though it plays from an elevated tee. I managed to hit just short left, chipped on, then two-putted for a four. I was feeling much more confident as play moved along. At the Twelfth Hole, a 505-yard par five, the mental mistakes crept back in. I hooked my drive into the left rough, as did Mike and Bud. As I approached, Mike indicated our two balls were right next to each other. What I was not aware of was that Mike has switched to the same model of Titleist ball I was playing. I looked down and saw the DT So/Lo marking on the side of the ball and played it. I never looked for the three black dots I put on my ball. After discovering the ball had no dots and Mike was now playing the same model of ball, my bogey six became a triple-bogey eight. The back nine momentum was suddenly gone as I began hitting the ball all over the place. And although I did make a par at the 339-yard par four Sixteenth Hole, I countered that with a triple-bogey six at the very short 106-yard par three Fifteenth Hole and a ten at the closing par five Eighteenth Hole. It all added up to a back nine 55 and a round of 102. Not the way I wanted to start the week. I was disappointed most in the amount of mental mistakes I made. I hit the irons okay for the first time and vowed that I would play better the next round.


The Rookery: A Tale of Two Nines
The Rookery
, Del

Yards: 2886/3253 – 6139
Par: 35/36 = 71
Rating: 68.8, Slope: 116
Score: 46/58 = 104
Date: September 6, 2009
With apologies to Charles Dickens, it was the best of nines, it was the worst of nines. So went my round at our annual family Labor Day golf outing. This year, my two cousins and my cousins’ husband, played at The Rookery, just off Route 1 in Milton, Del. The Rookery was co-conceived and is co-owned by Pete Oakley, the 2003 Senior British Open Champion. While the course is fairly wide open, it does have some tricky holes and wind can often be a factor as it was for us. We played in a very strong wind that made club selection extremely difficult and caused havoc with many shots. Hoping to put my first round at Old Landing in the rearview mirror, I made a couple of changes to my bag: a 5-wood replaced the 2-hybrid and a 53-degree wedge replaced the 4-hybrid. I also stressed to myself that I would play smart golf, unlike at Old Landing, and not take unnecessary risks. I planned to use the 3- and 5-woods off of most of the par fours, except for the par fives.

The Rookery Scorecard

My round couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. I found the fairway at the First, and after putting a 5-iron into the greenside bunker, got up-and-down for a par. At the Second Hole, a 168-yard par three, I hit a 4-iron into the wind which found the front right of the green. Two putts and a second par. The Third Hole is a short, 300-yard par four with out-of-bounds on the left and a pond on the right. I hit the 5-wood to about 100 yards, but came up just short on my approach. I chipped on and one-putted for a third consecutive par! The Fourth Hole at The Rookery is one of the quirkiest you will find anywhere. Although it is only 290 yards, a large pond dissects the fairway less than 150 yards from the tee. It takes a drive of about 260 to clear the water. The tees were all the way back, so I hit a 7-iron, which ran through the fairway into the rough short of the water. I then chunked my second shot into the water, hit my fourth over, chipped on and two-putted for an eight. The Fifth Hole is a dogleg left that requires a good tee shot to the very edge of the dogleg because the green is protected on the left by a row of three pine trees more than 100 yards out. I hit the very right of the last tree with my approach and then came up short with my third shot. I chipped long and three-putted for a seven. From there I settled back down and played steadier golf, finishing off my front nine 46 with a to-putt par at the 115-yard Nine Hole.

The 4th Hole requires a short tee shot

The back nine at The Rookery begins with a 575-yard par five—one of three on the back nine—that was playing straight into the wind. The make the hole even more difficult, a row of bunkers stretches across the fairway about 180 yards from the green. I hit a duck hook off the tee and two-putted for a very satisfying seven given the extremely windy conditions. But at the Eleventh Hole, it all began to come apart. We played from the back tees, 447 yards straight into the wind. I hit a hard draw into the left rough and had well over 200 yards to the green. Instead of just playing the hole like a par 5 and hitting a 6- or 7-iron lay-up, I pulled the 5-wood. I topped it, then topped it again into a fairway bunker. After hitting a 7-iron out, I came up short with a wedge, chipped on and two-putted for an eight. Although I managed a bogey at the Twelfth Hole, I took a nine at the 466-yard, par five Thirteenth Hole when I pulled my 3-wood left and out-of-bounds off the tee. At the Fourteenth, a long 200-yard par three, with the wind coming from the right hard, I managed to get on in two, but four-putted from long range for a triple-bogey six. I now felt as if my putting stroke, which has been a problem all season, had completely abandoned me. The Fifteenth Hole, a 140-yard par three with water almost all the way around the green was playing dead into the wind and about 2-3 clubs longer. I kept it under the wind and hit it short into the rough fronting the green, but a poor chip and three more putts left me with a five. I hit a great drive with my 3-wood at the Sixteenth Hole, a 375-yard par four that was finally playing downwind. But I dumped my approach shot short into a bunker on the right, then thinned my bunker shot over the green. Two chips to get on and another three-putt—it getting even painful for me to watch me putt—and another eight. The Seventeenth, a 155-yard par 3, was also playing downwind and I hit my tee shot onto the green about 25 feet past the hole. With no confidence whatsoever in my putting at this point I three-putted yet again. The closing hole is a 566-yard par five. After a very short, dipping tee shot that didn’t reach the fairway, I somehow managed to get the ball on the green in four and actually took only TWO putts for a six and closing 58 on the back nine. That left me with a 104 for the round.

The row of fairway bunkers on the 10th Hole

This round at The Rookery marked the second time in three days that I opened with a respectable front nine, but completely collapsed on the back nine. My putting has been some of the worst it has been this year. The only thing I took away was that I was getting a better feel for my new TaylorMade Tour Burner irons. Hopefully, that will continue and I will be able to turn my game around in the very near future.


Shooting More than Birdies at The Heritage

The Heritage Inn and Golf Course

Midway, Del
Yards: 1946/Nine Holes
Par: 32/Nine Holes
Rating: N/A, Slope: N/A
Score: Practice Round
Date: September 8, 2009
If you ever go to play at The Heritage MAKE SURE YOU WEAR FLOURESCENT ORANGE! I have never, never, EVER experienced what happened while I was playing at The Heritage. The Heritage used to be a nice, nine-hole, par 35 golf course located just off Delaware Route 1 between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. It is owned by The Heritage Inn, a hotel located just across the street. In recent years, they have begun building homes on the back part of the course, shorting up several of the holes to par threes. Today, it costs $10 to play all day. The conditions aren’t that great, but it is inexpensive golf. Because the weather had turned very overcast and windy, and with the threat of heavy afternoon showers, I figured I would go to The Heritage to play some practice holes. You pay at the hotel front desk, which I did, then proceed over to the course. I played the first seven holes—there was one other golfer out on the course—and had discovered that I was not moving into the ball with the top part of my body. I was starting to hit much more solid, crisper shots. Then it happened. I teed off on the Eighth Hole, a short par three, hitting to about 12 feet in front of the hole. As I walked towards the green I heard BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! As I hunched down and looked around I saw a man with a shotgun walking towards the back part of the course. Geese that had been on the course were taking flight and he raised his shotgun and fired—BANG! BANG! BANG! I watched in horror as a goose fell out of the sky and hit the fairway! Another, obviously wounded, tried to run away across the course! I stood frozen, watching what was going on, but also praying the gunman was not coming in my direction. He finally saw me and raised his hand, then went and pulled several dead geese out of a pond. He walked over and grabbed the one that had tried to flee. He yelled over to me that he was sorry, he hadn’t seen me! A woman in the homes behind me came running out to me. She told me she had called the Delaware State Police, but they had told her that it was hunting season! As she stood talking with me, the man collected the 6-8 dead geese and piled them next to the Ninth fairway. The woman then went off to confront the shooter. I numbly putted out on the Eighth, then tried to play the Ninth Hole, but I was too shaken to continue. The man came over to apologize, saying he hadn’t seen me and that he had talked to the owner of The Heritage who had told him NO ONE was on the course! I was pretty upset. I packed up my clubs and headed back to the hotel front desk to ask for my money back. They told me I was far enough away from the shooting and that they didn’t like my attitude! They said it was a pest control thing. I have been on many golf courses that have had problems with geese, but I’ve never seen then send someone onto the course to shoot the geese while golfers were playing! Our confrontation escalated until they eventually physically escorted me out! So if you’re ever in the Lewes/Rehoboth Beach area, and you’re thinking about playing a bargain round at The Heritage, just make such you have your bullet-proof golf vest on!

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