Palm Garden in Putrajaya is one of those golf courses where you take a look at it and go, “OK, I can score on this one. Why not, it looks so accessible.” The old Palm Garden way back before they built this one was a popular one with easy holes, rolling hills and great greens. It hasn’t changed much since, but for some reason, scoring well is never the agenda here.
Hole 1: This is a great hole to begin, an uphill tee shot to a dogleg right green. I hit a so-so tee shot that pulled left into the rough. I was in too deep and didn’t catch my second shot and still had the dreaded 50 metre pitch. Which I pulled again into the bunker. Fourth ball out, two putt for a bad double bogey start on a relatively easy hole. (+2)
Hole 2: This is an EASY hole with no excuse to fail. And I failed. I pulled again my gap wedge into the bunker, but it wasn’t an easy one. It had to clear a high lip and I just took too much ball and it sailed to the other bunker. Third ball out, two putt for a double bogey again. (+4). I am thinking there’s a lot of dates with Sandy today.
Hole 3: Apparently a difficult hole, but I managed to slam a great drive that left me about 140 or so. Using a 9 iron, I hit it pin high (for the last two holes, I was hitting pin high as well, except I pulled), slightly pulled to the left, on the fringe. I didn’t hit my putt hard enough (Palm was playing its slowest greens I ever played today). Settled for a par to steady the ship. (+4)
Hole 4:Into everyone’s favourite par 5, with a semi island green. Once more, I pulled my drive into the flower bed. Took a free drop and landed by wedge to around 120 or so again. I had an option to either take my pitching wedge which I would fly the green or take the risk with a gap. I hit a very good shot, but as expected, it was short, bounced near the green and landed around 10 inches from the water. Sometimes, Luck shines down. From there, I navigated a two putt to go par-par after a double-double start (+4)
Hole 5: Another par 5. Didn’t hit a particularly good drive though, but it still ran a bit. Took out my hybrid, landed it left a bit. I was in a very clear area with a pitching wedge to the green, but somehow I didn’t manage to draw it back and it landed just outside the green – instead of pitching, I opted to putt and had a 4 footer for my third par. I missed it. Missed the escalation par and got really pissed. (+5)
Hole 6: Long par 4 which I drove furious. The drive left me with a reasonably simple 8 iron to the green. For some heck of a reason, I pulled it again. AGAIN. It should be the perfect time to hit a good chip but instead I skulled the damn ball almost over the green. Putt for par missed, settled for bogey. (+6) Such a waste of a good drive, honestly.
Hole 7: This is a very long par 3 which I almost never do well. This time I hit my hybrid (I’ve replaced my old 7 wood with a newer burner hybrid with varying success and failure). I pulled it to the left, but had a lucky bounce. I hit a reasonable 60 degree chip which just hit a small knoll on the green and skittered past the hole. I had to charge for my par as my partner was completely hacking the hole, taking 3 shots from the bunker. So I charged my par putt way past the hole, missed the comeback and settled for double. (+8)
Hole 8: I don’t like this hole because they set the tee boxes far right, and with my draw/hook shot, I had to aim to start right, which in this case, is straight at a damn tree. I can’t fade/slice to save my life, so I had to tee right at the left edge of the box, with my standing outside the tee ground. True enough, I hit the same shot but this time escaped the tree, and landed around 50m from the green for my pitching. I didn’t hit a good one, left slightly short of an amazingly inclined green. I didn’t reach the hole for my birdie try, and had around 4 feet to navigate for par, which I promptly missed as well. Furious bogey. (+9) What a far cry from my putting at Mines 2 weeks ago.
Hole 9: Whatever I escaped in Hole 8, karma came back and bit my ass. Again I started to draw this right to left, but my tee shot slammed into the tree on the right, dropped. My caddy (who sucked) said he saw it drop. After 5 minutes of searching, I had to angrily return to my tee box, reload and promptly whacked one to the right again that never drew back. I punched out my 5-iron 4th shot over the green. Flopped back near the green for my fifth and two putted for my TRIPLE BOGEY. (+12). I was pretty mad, because I couldn’t believe we couldn’t find my first ball.
+12 over 9 holes isn’t cool. But as bad as you think I play – it was that triple bogey that sucked the life out of the 9 hole and those short par putts that really annoyed me. It wasn’t as if I was playing bad, but like all golfers, you tend to blame the breaks.
Hole 1: I hooked my tee shot abit here on this long par 5. I still had a reasonable lie on the left rough and looking to punch it out again. Unbelievably, my five iron hit the only tree in front of me – which wasn’t even close – and bounded out of bounds on the left. It’s exactly the same occurence a few rounds back on the par 5 4th, Hit the only damn tree in the vicinity and goes left. Dropped, played it out, my 5th shot still had a long way and I had to hit my 5 wood which ended up near the green. I duffed my stupid chip for six on but so far from the hole. Two putted for Triple. Back to back. (+15)
Hole 2: The downhill hole. Hit my driver controlled and left with a pitching wedge into the green, which was strangely short. I was left with a reasonably easy chip, sitting uphill sort of chip, which I hit it too hard. I really cannot chip for nuts. The par putt almost went in and unfortunately settled for bogey. At least I stem the leak a bit. (+16)
Hole 3: Hit what I thought was a perfect gap, but since it drew, it trickled down the left side and left me with a horrendous lag putt to climb a hill and go straight down another. My other partners putted and couldn’t stop the downhill rolling 15 – 20 feet past. I hit probably my best lag putt ever and had a 4 footer (which I have been missing all the time) for a par, which I finally – FINALLY – hit. I even did a fist bump here. (+16)
Hole 4: The Hateful Par 5. I hit a safe driver – not long, but at least dry. Then took a 9 to hit to around 120m. Finally hit a great approach, pin high, uphill putt around 8 feet. Birdie time? Hell yeah. First birdie ever on this hole, I think! (+15)
Hole 5: I hit a solid 9 iron into this green that was teeing off at the white tees with red pin at the front. It was perfect, and dropped to around 6 feet of the cup. It was very close, closer than my previous birdie. 2 birdies in a row again? I think it got to me, because I just rammed through the break and lipped out. It was horrible par. (+15)
Hole 6: Despondent over the horrid miss, I hooked my drive far left to the next green. From there, I hit a 5 wood that almost sailed past the trees but caught the last branch. It still dropped to around 150m for a shot on the green. With my 8 iron, I hit a shot that never drew. It landed on the bunker. I hit a great bunker shot that left me around 6 feet of the hole. This to get my escalation and sandy par fringe! Did I hit it? NO. I hit it SHORT amazingly. Another par missed within 8 feet! It was so damn frus! (+16)
Hole 7: I think I never recovered from there. This is honestly an EASY hole, if you tee off with a wood or iron and land it to the 100m marker. The problem was, our ego always dictated that we try to drive the green, because it was downhill and around 290m away. ALWAYS. I hit mine pretty ok, but too left and into the bunker. My out was not great, but depending on my chip after that – which obviously is undependable. I duffed it AGAIN, and while it was on, it was too far away for a chance for par. I slammed my par putt way past and couldn’t get my return bogey and settled for a messy double on the easiest hole ever. (+18)
Hole 8: This par 3 downhill, I used a 9 iron to try to coax it in there. It was hit cleanly but it didn’t reach, landing to the chipping zone. My chip this time went too far and my par putt brush the hole, settled for another bogey due to my inability to execute the simple CHIP. (+19)
Hole 9: Finally on the last hole. This is the signature ending hole, which I promptly hit a good drive finally. I was now center of the fairway with a pitching wedge in hand. What did I do? Whacked it too far right into, yes, the chipping zone. Did I end up hitting a great chip? The answer is no. It skittered too far and my comeback par putt ended up nudging the hole. My chipping was good a while back but now back to this stupid ineptitude. (+20)
Conclusion: +20 on palm? That’s BAD. Look, its mainly a few things: Last 3 holes could have save me 3 shots. The missed short putts, probably another 3 shots. Palm is all about “What if”s. Also, Palm garden’s contours on the greens are horrible difficult to judge. Additionally, contours on the fairways make this golf course sometimes unrewarding even if you are on the fairway, as you could be on a slope. If we can navigate this, we can navigate through Palm’s defences. As of now, the chipping continues to hurt.