Saturday, October 09, 2004

John Blumberg Golf Course

Yesterday, I played my fourth round at John Blumberg Golf Course, the best of the City-owned courses.

As the season is winding down, there was no starter. I wonder what the usually grumpy old guy does in the off season. I started off the first three holes rather poorly. The huge amount of wind may have had something to do with it. On the second hole, I sliced a three-wood shot high into the air, sending it to the ditch on the right side, just before the road. Unfortunately, we didn't find the ball. Getting to the green in two was impossible for all the guys in our foursome.

On the par-three third hole, it's usually a 7-iron over the water, to the green. With the wind blowing so hard, I teed up with a 5-iron, which missed the green but left me pin-high. We definitely found putting trickier than usually. The greens were really fast and the wind affected my putting.

The fourth-hole is the first par-5 on the front nine. I drove the ball to the left of the fairway, at least 220 yards away. My next shot with the 5-iron was held up in the air and landed on the fairway, now just a nine-iron to the green. Had there been no wind, the ball certainly would have ended up in the rough.

Hole number 10 parallells the ninth hole. My drive on no. 10 ended up in the ninth fairway. I took aim of the tenth hole flag and let fly a tree-wood shot that ended the 9th hole fairway again! It actually took me four shots to get to the green on what is arguably the toughest par four hole on the course.

The par-5 number 14 is one of, if not, the toughest hole on the course for me. It's a narrow hole along the river. I can't recall the last time I actually left a drive in the fairway. I teed up with a 5-iron, and hoped not to put in the left-side rough. I didn't. I put it in the right-side rough and had to take a stroke to pull it out. I topped my next shot. My fourth shot curved left to right, hit the green and rolled to the right rough, just a few feet from rolling into the river. I ended up with an 8.

The 15-th hole is a gift. It's one of the shortest par-4s at 328 yards. I topped my drive, sending it to the gully, less than 100 yards away. I played a "provisional" ball which I drove beautifully long and to the left. It ended up on the green, about five feet in.

The eighteenth hole is a par four that can be shortened if you cut the corner rather than play the dog-leg to the right. I aimed directly for the scattered trees on the right, which is in a direct line to the hole. I hit one of my longest drives of the day and ended up a few feet away from a tall tree. I couldn't use a nine-iron to go for the green since there were some branches in the way. I chocked down on a 5-iron and aimed for the left-side of the green. The ball headed in that direction and then rolled to the right-side and ended up on the elevated fringe, above the hole. You never aim directly for the pin if you're approaching it from the left side and the green is sloped to the right.

I ended up with 49 and 50 and my partners shot 92, 102 and 103.

When it's really windy, I try to take advantage of the wind, if I can, rather than play against it. So long as the wind isn't directly in my face, I try to aim my shots more left or right. Sometimes, this doesn't work at all, and it usually results in my foursome collectively shouting for the wind to pick up and move the ball towards the hole. Once in a while, I will hit a long, low ball into the wind. How to do that shot on command is beyond me, though. I'll have to learn that shot. I putted fairly well on long shots. I actually slam-danced a few five-footers. The short puts usually kill me, though, as I don't hit them hard enough to take away the break. My approach shots with the pitching wedge have been inconsistent. Too often, I end up leaving the ball on the fringe, when it could have rolled another 20-30 ft to the hole. I haven't skulled many wedge shots lately, which is a good thing.

John Blumberg is another one of my favorite courses to play since it is so wide open on most holes. It wasn't in great shape, though. By and large, there are no cart paths. As a result, in several places, the grass has been cut up with hardened mud tire tracks. On the first hole, in the gully, I found four balls in the mud/grass/water mixture. On the 18th hole, one of the partners lost his ball in the water that snaked across the fairway. In some places, the casual water is a feet wide and a few inches deep. His ball splashed down and then just disappeared.

For whatever reason, there's no fall special at Blumberg. It's full price all the time. Maybe this is due to demand, but on Friday, we didn't see any groups behind us for a long time.

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