I’ve played Palm Garden 4 times this year and had a 95-92-88-96 scoring on it. For some reason, a course which should be easy (hardly any water), which I should be eating breakfast out of, turns into a high scoring affair everytime I set foot on it. A few things come to mind – the greens and fairways are undulating and not easy. The par 3s have two easy ones, but two incredibly difficult ones. The par 5s are almost not possible to be reached in two. But basically I just need to freaking play better.
Hole 1: I’ve been driving like an automaton lately and today started off with a bang. Cut the dogleg too much though, and ended up on the rough. No matter, an easy 9-iron took me to the green, if not a bit too far. A downhill putt which I completely misread, and left me with a par putt of around 10 feet, which I missed. 3-putt to start the day? OK. (+1)
Hole 2: Easy par 3 that I shorted with a gap wedge. Time to see how this chip is doing. I hit an ok one actually, which is surprising but still had to navigate around 6 feet for a par which i did. Wow! Didn’t expect my short game to save me! (+1)
Hole 3: Good broad fairway which I just pummeled my drive into. From there, I had an easy 9 iron again to the back portion of the green, which I put on around 20 feet away. But again, my putter was crap shit, and my birdie putt came up way short. Palm garden was playing very SLOW today, unlike the previous time. My par putt pulled and again, a 3 putt despite regulation-on. I hope this isn’t going to become a trend. (+2)
Hole 4: Really one of my favourite holes in the course. This is a par 5 which drops down to a semi island green which requires some precise shot into it. I’ve birdied this par 5 a few times and today went flag hunting again. Long drive straight down the barrel, another pitching wedge to take me to around 100m and from there, a lob wedge to a front sucker pin, to around 2 feet for a kick in birdie. Easiest one ever! (+1)
Hole 5: Back to back par 5s here. I hit another straight drive (my driver was seriously in automated mode), and then a little pulled five wood took me to around 100m away to a green which I put on with a sandwedge. From there 2 putted for a par. (+1) At this point, I was thinking if I putted well during my hole 1 and 3, I would have been one under over 5 holes! Could be staring at a sub 80 round here!
Hole 6: This is just a tough par 4 but not impossible. A good drive found the rough on the right, and I just dead pulled my hybrid (I hate this hybrid) into the bunker on the left. My out wasn’t superb and that just left me with too long a putt for par. Bogey and momentum lost. (+2)
Woods/Hybrid = -1
Hole 7: If anyone asks which is the toughest hole in the course? I would say this stupid par 3. It is LONG. It needed my 5 wood, so we are staring at an uphill 190-200 metres with a difficult green protected by bunkers and undulation. On cue, I pulled left and from there, buried under a tree, I just have to chop out, and put it into bunker. Out, missed my bogey and settled for my first double bogey of the day. Stupid 5 wood and stupid hybrid! (+4)
Hole 8: The final two holes are really scoring holes for me, especially if the driver is behaving. And it was certainly behaving today. Drove a straight one cutting the dogleg to around 80m from the green but in a not so great lie in the rough, and mud. I managed to carve in a lob wedge to the top of the green but had a very tricky downhill. My putt was ok, wasn’t good, but managed to coax in a par. (+4)
Hole 9: This was the probably the first time I had a perfect driving 9 holes in my life. This drive was crushed right down the fairway and left me again with a lob wedge into a dangerous green. Behind the green (where my playing partner ended up) was no-man’s land, a practice green and a hill back up. Lob wedge safely on the green, two putted for a par. (+4) At +4, I was probably on track to break 80 but I would need to play a heck of a back 9.
Hole 10: Another good drive straight down the fairway. Here’s where I probably made my mistake. Instead of gunning it with a wood or at least a long iron to this massive par 5, I layed up with a 9 iron thinking it might give me a lob wedge in. I short-changed it and had a 130m uphill approach. Again, mistake with a pitching instead of a 9 and fell woefully short. Chip wasn’t great and left with too much to do. Bogey. (+5) Can’t fault my chipping though, it was really a mental breakdown here more than anything.
Hole 11: Great hole with danger on the left which I avoided with a perfect 5 wood. I was left with only a pitching wedge into the green and looked to get back on track from the previous hole’s brain fart. And then it happened.
It doesn’t happen often but when it does, it is disastrous.
I shanked the shit out of my pitching. It came out of nowhere, literally. My irons the whole of the 10 holes previous were dialed in, target hunting precision and just crisp and clear pounding off the turf. Suddenly, the shank just changed everything. It landed in the trees at the right, I punched out and still could do a 4-on to escape disaster. With a lob wedge, it happened again.
This time into the water. At this point, it wasn’t just bye-bye sub 80 round. It could be bye bye game, because I had no idea what was causing it. I stood there for a full half minute wondering what the f- just happened. I mean if I was playing like a monkey I would feel this is just a product of that monkey business. Instead I was playing probably the best golf I had played this whole year. So where in cold hell did this shanking nonsense come from???!
Since we were playing team against team, I declared myself out of the hole and stopped playing and went back to the buggy to try to sort out this swing. So I don’t have a number here but as a rule, all blow holes will be marked as quadruple, so I marked it. (+9)
Irons = -1
Hole 12: I was obviously in a shocked state by now and this easy par 3 should be there for the taking. Instead on the tee with a pitching wedge, I shanked it again. This time it wasn’t so bad and I could still recover, but my confidence throughout the game had taken a huge beating and I knew I was in deep shit to complete this game with a reasonable score. You can’t fix a shank. You can only compensate for it. Managed to chip on, and two putted for a bogey. (+10). If I could just bogey all the way, I would be pretty satisfied now.
Hole 13: Tough Par 5 with trouble everywhere. At least my driver was still working despite my shanking problems. Bombed it down the fairway and now I had a dreaded iron coming up. With a 9-iron, I adjusted my stance drastically, putting my right foot a full one feet back compared to my left. This funny stance will force me to swing inside out at a drastic plane, hopefully eliminating my shank (which came from me swinging over the top and coming in steep outside in), but will be problematic due to it making my draw and hooks even worse. For now, it sort of worked, because I managed to hit it (although it still had the dreaded shank sound – “thak!” of ball hitting the hosel. With a 52 degree into the green, I did the same swing, and landed just before the green. It was not a great chip for 4-on as it overshot the hole by around 15 feet. But finally, one putt did drop as this one snaked in for an extremely unlikely par. (+10)
Hole 14: Again, with the same method, I eliminated my shank, but my draw was pretty extreme into this par 3. I’ve already compensated for it and this time it worked out well. It ended up on the green and managed to two putt for another par. With the way I’m playing, pars are like birdies for me. (+10)
Hole 15: Great drive smack in the middle. With water on the right, I had to play safe a bit with the layup and hit a conservative 9-iron and had maybe 120 or so left to the green. My shank seems to be resolved now, but the problem was I wasn’t hitting my irons so crisply and this new stance had me fighting a hook everytime. My pitching wedge worked well here but didn’t hook back so left me on the green with some real estate to maneuver. I thankfully did and ended up with another par. That’s 3 in a row and momentum regained! (+10)
Hole 16: This relatively short part 4 hole always turns difficult when you cranked your drive thinking you can reach the green. I hit a reasonable drive that ended up a few feet from the bunker on the right and leaving me around 70m downhill to front pin. My pitch came up short and I was maybe a few metres from the green. Usually I would opt to putt but given that I am supposed to practice my chipping, I opted to chip. And clunked it. It barely made the green and a stupid 2 putt later for a bogey. (+11)
Hole 17: The par 3 downhill with trouble on the left. I knew I was hooking/over-drawing my irons due to my stance set up to fight the shank. So I aimed right for this but apparently not enough. I overhooked it and thought it was wet. Later, found the ball literally perched on the edge of the water and managed to pitch it on the green and two putted for bogey. Lucky!! (+12)
Hole 18: This final hole is just a great hole to end. I blasted my drive straight down the fairway and for once did something I don’t think I’ve ever done before: Have a perfect driving day. As in literally I did not have one single bad drive for the whole 18. I now found myself around 110m from the green and used my gap wedge. This is my bread and butter. But like the previous hole, due to my extremely closed stance, I hooked it into the greenside bunker! Frustrated, I hit another ball exactly the same spot, but with my normal stance. Stuffed it to one feet from the hole, for a kickin mulligan birdie (if that was my actual ball in play)…I realise it’s bad etiquette to play two balls but we didn’t have anyone behind and maybe the ball in the bunker rolled into water? Who’s to say?
From the bunker, I was dead. The ball was in the bunker yes, but against the grass ledge so I couldn’t take any sand from under the ball. I topped it, and only then 4 out of bunker, missed my bogey and ended up with an extremely disappointing double bogey. (+14)
Conclusion: What could have been? If I wasn’t compensating for my shank I would probably play the last hole or even 17th a lot better. A swing on the 18th between a double to a birdie is 3 strokes so I could have shaved that off. If I putted better, I could shaved 2 strokes on front 9 if I hit those regulation par putts. If I’ve not shanked the crap out of 11th hole, instead of a quadruple, I could end with a bogey , that’s another 3 strokes. If I chipped better on the 16th, there is another stroke there to be saved. So overall, I could have easily done 9 strokes less. From 86, I could have turned it into a 77. Why oh why the shanks?!?!