The best 16 holes of my life!

I played a course in Florence, SC last week called "The Traces" that I had never played before. It's actually three 9 hole courses and you play two of the 3 to make up an 18 hole round. It's a beautiful layout that I would highly recommend (see my "courses" page). I stepped to the first tee and hit a pretty decent 3 wood right down the fairway. My second shot, a sand wedge from about 60 yards out, rolled to within a foot of the cup for an easy tap-in birdie! On the second hole, a short par three, my tee shot hit the green, although it was till a good 25 feet from the flag. I managed a good putt to about 3 feet and rolled that in for par. My drive on the third hole hit on a hard, downhill sloping fairway and ended up about 275 yards from the tee. Again, a good pitch and adequate putting allowed me to record a par on the scorecard. Almost the whole day went that way, with the word "almost" being key here. Throughout the round I recorded one birdie, 7 pars, 5 bogies and 2 double bogies and one inexcusable triple bogey on a par five where my second shot was lying about 50 yards from the green. All of this I can live with. It's the remaining two holes that had me leaving the golf course with a sad, empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.

My final score for the day was a 91, which, in general is not to bad for me. My total score for the 16 holes listed above comes to 72. A little quick math and it's easy to determine that I played the 2 holes missing from the above list in a magical total of 19 strokes! What has me baffled is trying to figure out how a golfer (ME!) can go out and basically play the round of his life for 16 holes but have that round interrupted by two holes where he looks like he's never swung a golf club before in his life! After my stellar start described above, I stepped to the 4th tee, a 477 yard par 4, thinking "birdie!" I then proceeded to yank my drive hard left into the woods. Through some miracle, I was able to find my ball and even had a fairly clear shot back out to the fairway. So now I punched the ball right through the fairway into the trees on the other side! Again I had an escape route available to me and this time I actually got the ball back to the short grass only to squander my good fortune by pulling a 3-wood back into the woods on the left. By the time I limped off of the green I had carded a 9 on the hole. Badly shaken, I bogied the next hole before regaining some confidence by parring the 126 yard par three 6th hole. Then cam the second par five of the day. I stepped to the tee, vowing to be be more careful on this par 5. To make a long story short, after an excursion through the woods and two shots into the water in front of the green, I managed a 10!

Of course I was a little surprised as I realized late in the day that I still had a very good chance to break 90. That was about when I blew up on the 479 yard par 5 17th for a more acceptable triple bogey. It's just as well as I really did not feel like I deserved to shoot in the 80's on that day.

Later that day I listened as Ernie Els described how he felt after he hit two balls into the water on the 17th at Sawgrass in the first round of this year's TPC. Ernie basically said that it did not feel good to work hard all day only to give it all back on one hole late in a round. I think I know the feeling!

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