Monday, March 06, 2006

Hurricane Balboa..

I was looking for an appropriate title in relation to my game in San Diego yesterday at Balboa Park Golf Course (slope 127/rating 71.1)

"A devilish little course. Its deceiving short yardage makes it look easier than it actually is (if easy at all). Perhaps it's the perfect example of when the USGA slope/rating system, seemingly based mostly on distance, fails to capture the true difficulty of a golf course. Some holes have no bail out, forcing the players to play very safe, short of greens, to avoid disaster. Agressive play will, sooner or later, lead to disastrous consequences. A good course for not-very-long and straight hitters, and patient players. A bad course for those who are wild off the tee and inaccurate iron players."

I wish I had read the above statement before playing..the last sentence is rather funny. This has to be, unexpectedly, the worst I've played in months. I finally got to play with two of my closest friends and it was a gorgeous day to top it off. I showed up at BPGC at 5:01 AM to put my name on the waiting list. When I got to the parking lot I was surprised to see about 6 other people milling around the parking lot. A few minutes later they all started to march together toward the clubroom where the waiting list was and formed a line.

I asked the last guy if I was supposed to park my car in some special order in relation to the waiting list and he said that my spot on the waiting list goes by how many cars were here when I pulled into the parking lot. I started counting and it looked like with my car I would be 10th. He then told me I could sign in as #7. It was, I'm sure, a time-honored system that goes back for years and there was absolutely no room for any foul play here. Everyone knew everyone and I was the f.n.g., but real good guys. The #3 waiting spot was open and I asked why that was, he said that he could vouch that the guy was here waiting..true knights.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I hit a perfect tee shot on the first hole and hit my first (and only) GIR that day. I managed to 3-putt for a bogey though..more on this later. The wheels came off this train from hole #2 and onward. I feel after analyzing my round relentlessly, for possible scoring mistakes, most of the strokes taken were on the green with multiple 2 putts and 3 putts..ugh. I couldn't believe how fast the greens were. The whole day I couldn't find the pace of them. They had that pace where the ball rolled all the way out. Even like the last foot it kept rolling..and rolling..and rolling. It was just plain scary to putt that day. BPGC is also an undulating course which is nothing like the flat courses I'm use to playing..but enough with excuses.

It also didn't help that I lost three balls (OB), two on one hole, either. BPGC has absolutely no water hazards but it is played along on top of a ridge with numerous, vast canyons to the sides. Any errant shot means a loss ball going down into the vast steep canyons. I believe they're in play..if you don't mind hiking all the way down or the thorns and possible rattlesnakes in between. I actually didn't have a chance to hit many irons because it seemed like I was hitting my hybrid all the time..which actually probably helped me more than I thought. I ended finishing with a 101, my highest round this year.

I brought my video camera to catch all of us playing but actually didn't have much time to do that because the group behind us were playing fairly fast and was pushing up on us a few times. I thought we were playing slow but finished the round in 4 hours which to me is fairly fast for walking.

I did manage to take a video of our swings on the 13th hole. It's a par 3, 134 yards, downhill green. It's ranked as the 16th handicap hole, probably due to the short distance, but if you miss short to the front, you're done. It's an extreme drop off if you come up short and your ball, if lucky, will go all the way to the base and hopefully stop. Most of the time, though, your ball has so much speed rolling down that it ends up going into the canyon. Both of my friends hit their 9 iron, which seemed plenty of club, and fell victims to the consequences of coming short. They were well struck, nothing fat or thin..just good contact, but both ended up short and claimed unplayable lie and carded a triple and double respectively.

I went with an 8 iron, super-plenty of club, and put my normal swing on it (I'm the last one hitting in the blue shirt). I made really good contact and thought it was just going to be long, but it landed about 10 feet pin-high on the green. I assumed if these guys didn't get on with their 9 iron that it must be windy up there. I'd love to have one of those SkyCaddie GPS units to really measure the distance out. I still managed to 3-putt for a bogey..and how Sam Snead shot a 60 here (course record) in 1943 is truly amazing.

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