Challenging Tropicana and an Interesting Hazard Drop

We haven’t played in Tropicana for some time, and from memory, it seems a reasonably easy course for us. After coming out of a sub-90 round in Palm and great driving, I was reasonable optimistic about this round.

Just a note, the fairways in Tropicana weren’t in their usual good conditions. Rain and maybe an iffy maintenance schedule has made it a bit soggy and damp – not terrible, but still, no the pristine fairways we are used to seeing on this course. The greens as well is being sanded, so you expect bumpy, unpredictable putts. But this is generally Ramadan Conditions – courses are taking this low traffic weeks to fix up their courses.

Hole 1: We started out in East Two (cross over to West Three). It’s a reasonable easy par 4, which I started badly pushing my drive right. Under trees, I only managed to chop a poor shot out. Then another poor chop to around 50m, and then a 60 degree in. Two putt for a double bogey to start. Ominous. (+2)

Hole 2: Beautiful par 4 with a downhill drive. Pushed again to the right! This time, I hit a reasonably good 6 iron to keep it under the trees but zipped over the green into the rough, slope behind. Chip! And a very poor one. It didn’t even reach the green. A putt to get on and 2 putts again to start double-double. (+4)

Hole 3: This time, striped a good one down the right side over the fairway bunker. With a pitching wedge, I managed to hit a stupid shot and missed the top tier of the green, leaving me a horribly long putt. Which I three putted. Again. Bogey. (+5)

Hole 4: Already fuming after the previous hole, this was the supposedly the easiest hole, a Par 3 that we ALWAYS hit short for some twillight zone reason. It states 125 from our tee, but everytime my pitching wedge is short. And yes, it was short again, leaving me a tricky turning putt from the fringe. First putt wasn’t great but my par putt brushed the hole, another missed par for bogey. Two 3 putts in a row. DAMNIT! (+6)

Hole 5: Par 5, played WAY back championship tees. I hit a pulled drive, but no harm. Second shot was a crap, stupid duffed 6-iron, leaving me a huge 220m away for my third. My 5 wood brought me to around 30m, and my 60 degree went over the flag, with a tricky 30 footer downhill putt. Which I probably will miss. Except, this time, I didn’t. It snaked down and horse-shoed into the hole for a saved PAR! (+6)

Hole 6: Feeling good, I promptly pushed my drive right again. Thankfully, found it but was way far away from the green on an index hole. A five wood brought me around 30m, a nonchalant chip left me too much to do and bogeyed. (+7)

Hole 7:This was BLASTED. The drive was long and found me around 140m from the green. I would usually smoke a 9 iron in but the flag was set right the front next to the pond, and I chickened out and used an 8-iron. Promptly flew over the flag to the top tier, leaving me an absolute horror putt to come down. 3 Putt bogey? OK, deserved that. I should have challenged the damn pin. (+8)

Hole 8: Long par 3. An iffy par 5 left me needing a chip onto the green. It’s an easy chip from the rough, but I duffed it again, and had to putt my 3rd on. Two putted again for a horrible double bogey. (+10) So I have duffed two of my chips, leaving me a double on each of these holes. Looks like bad habits coming back.

Hole 9: Par 5, which usually should be easy, but I pushed my drive way right to the other fairway (hole 1). A good recovery with a five wood actually found me on the rough at around 100m. I should hit the green with my eyes closed. Instead I missed it by duffing my sand wedge, skipped the bunker and the ball rested at an impossible angel, where I had to stand INSIDE the bunker and hit the ball at was at nearly my stomach height. It did find the green finally and two putted for another bogey. (+11)

A +11 isn’t great for what is supposed to be an easier course. But it was definitely due to just bad overall decisions and iffy chipping. 3 putts are also killing me.

Hole 10: Cross over, new 9, hopefully new game. Par 4, hit it well, almost into the fairway bunker on the right. The next shot was a straight 9 iron without any draw, which left me a chip away from the green. So I chipped and it zipped past the hole to around 10 feet. 2 putt bogey. (+12)

Hole 11: Finally, a hole that is played WELL. I cut this dogleg so much with a good drive that I was only around 100m away to a downhill green. I should have used my 60-degree but opted for my sand wedge instead. It shot over to around 20 feet from the hole. Two putted for a good par. Only my second one! (+12)

Hole 12: Par 3, sucker pin on the left next to the water. I drew a good six iron in, landed to the front and a very long putt. I lagged to around 6 feet or so and managed to finally sink it for par. (+12)

Hole 13: Just when you think everything is going well, I blocked my 6 iron next hole, hit the cart path and bounched happily to OB. Reloaded, and a 9-iron to the green for 4 on. Two putted for double. (+14)

Hole 14: This is an index 1 par 4 which I just wasted. I hit a good drive, but left with around 180 to the green, I hit a great 7-wood that was literally about 10 inches away from entering into the green. Instead from the front to the back pin, I three putted for an absolutely stupid bogey. (+15)

Hole 15: This is a bit contentious. I hooked my ball a bit and thought it was going into the water. It hit a palm tree and dropped into the flower bed lining the edge of the water. Now, flower beds are free drops in Tropicana (according to caddy, I guess). But unfortunately about 10 feet away from where I was was a red stake. And because there was a flowerbed, we couldn’t see markings of hazard, and the other red stake was far away. I wasn’t in between the red stakes, I thought. But if you draw an imaginary STRAIGHT line, my ball was probably resting on the imaginary line. However, the water edge wasn’t straight. So If you draw an imaginary line FOLLOWING the water edge, my ball wasn’t in the hazard. Or at least, depending on how thick this imaginary line is. So how? Hell I don’t know. We don’t have a rules official. The flower bed is a free drop. But was I in the hazard, based on the hazard line rule? Was there a line in the first place? None because of the flower bed. Usually we should have a line drawn, but in this case, there was none because I guess Tropicana loves its flowerbeds.

I would generally think this is fine and free drop, but because we were playing for money $$, I think it’s a little too liberal to just not penalise myself, so I had to interpret it as such: if in doubt, be conservative and penalise. Besides, my partners were all on the green and I didn’t want to call them back on a ruling. So I did penalise myself. I dropped for three, bashed my 8 iron near the green. Hit an ok chip over bunker to 4-on and two putted for double bogey. (+17)

Hole 16: Reachable par 5 and I hit a solid drive, followed with a good 5 wood, if a little pulled left. Now, I was around 30m away from the green, an easy 60 degree should do it. Instead I blasted it over to the top tier and with a fast roll down to the pin, I conjured an amazingly stupid 3 putt for bogey.  (+18)

Hole 17: Its so frustrating. You know you aren’t playing that badly but the scores are not reflecting it. So on a downhill par 3, I finally hit a great pitching in, almost slam dunked into the hole an rolled to around 10 feet away. It was now an extreme right to left slider, downhill. Not an easy one, but one that I somehow miraculously managed to navigate, fist pump – boom, a birdie. (+17)

Hole 18: All the adrenaline from the last hole gave me a lousy drive. Blocked on the left, my 5 wood almost landed into the water. Third shot 6-iron from the water edge went into the greenside bunker. Out was poor and from the front of the green, three-putted my final green for a double bogey. (+19)

Overall, the strange thing is that it wasn’t as if I played badly. Fine, the first two holes put me in a hole already, but again, I had 6 three putts. SIX! And I had a few bad chips that didn’t do me any favors. The putts is something I need to improve, 100%. If I can half my three putts to 2 or 3 per round, i gain 3 – 4 strokes, that means moving me to a 12 – 13 handicapper as opposed to the 15 – 16 I am playing now. The chips – people may look and say I am chipping like a tapir, but really, I’m happy with it. You must understand where I was a few weeks ago. I was completely UNABLE to chip. UNABLE. So now, I need to chip more during the game, get into the groove of chipping during play and I will be fine. Not worried about it. Worried about my putting.

As for the hole 15 rule, the closest I can get to is from here: http://www.barryrhodes.com/2013/05/water-hazard-margins.html.

Part of the Definition of Lateral Water Hazard states: When the margin of a lateral water hazard is defined by stakes, the stakes are inside the lateral water hazard, and the margin of the hazard is defined by the nearest outside points of the stakes at ground level.

This is a very interesting situation. Because where my ball landed, it was clearly UNCLEAR whether my ball was in the hazard or not. It was NOT PLAYABLE, correct, but because it was in a flower bed which is an immovable obstruction (according to caddy, and I did not check the scorecard). So imagine if the flower bed wasn’t there, where would the line be? The distance between the red stakes were far because of this flowerbed between them, so there was no clear line markings for hazard, neither was it easy to draw an imaginary line. So unfortunately, because it was really a 50-50 matter, I had to declare it on the conservative interpretation and declared  penalty drop. Incidentally, if I had bogeyed that hole instead of double bogey, my partnership would have won the hole, and won the game. Instead we lost. So that one stroke cost me my lunch…but I think it was the right thing to do, and like life, golf should be done in the most ethical way possible.

Palm Garden – First game in Malaysia Baru!

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past week, you would know that we have now entered into a new era in our nation:- “Malaysia Baru”, or New Malaysia (which is ironically now run by the oldest prime minister in the world, and has surrounded himself with a Jedi Council with a collective age of 1000 years old). This has never and will never be a political blog in any way, so let’s just say this simply: To Pakatan Harapan – now that you are no longer the opposition, we hope you can run the country well and not mess up. To the outgoing Barisan Nasional – trust was lost over many years – but we believe there are many good people within the party, unfortunately for you, this time around, people voted for the party (not yours), and not the candidates. Pick yourself up and be the strong opposition and check and balance that this country needs. To the rakyat – let’s move on, and if possible, stop/minimise the vitrolic messages/gloating/blaming on social media to any individual or party and let time runs its course – this fledgling government and opposition need time to settle into their new roles, so let’s stop the bickering and play some bloody golf.

So we are back in Palm Garden, the difficult hunting ground for me, and some hopeless golf played here over the last few rounds. Hopefully my golf will change now, just like our country.

Hole 10. We started on the back nine and we had A LOT OF FLIGHTS today. Behind us were three flights, so six buggies, twelve people, twenty four pair of eyes looking at our tee shot. I striped the second best tee shot of the day on my first swing. It sailed so far, I could reach the green with my 5 wood second shot. Unfortunately, my 5 wood flared right, and ended up the dreaded shot behind the greenside bunker, about 20 meters from the flag. Flop, and right into the bunker. Fourth shot out to the fringe, and buried in a bad lie, poor poor putt (I should have chipped but chickened out) which hardly moved onto the green, and a two putt double bogey to start the day after an amazing drive. Oh boy. (+2)

Hole 11: Hit a good drive but drew a bit and landed on a downslope, sideways lie, 100m from the uphill green. I skulled my second shot sandwedge into the water – just straight duff due to the lie. Fourth shot on, and missed the 12 footer for bogey. Settle for double. (+4)

Hole 12: So early and I need to steady the ship a bit, which did not occur. I hit a poor 48 degree (its the club between my gap and my pitching, and hardly used), landed in the front bunker, came out nicely but on an extremely undulating green, two putted to escape with a bogey. (+5)

Hole 13: The Hateful Par 5. I hate this because I can never survive it. This time a reasonable drive to the left and a hooked eight iron left me with a difficult shot behind a tree. This time, I managed to get my club to it and it flopped near the green. Time to CHIP! And I did make a good contact chip for my fourth but it fizzed by the hole to around 8 feet over. Testy putt for par. Missed, settle bogey. Hey at least it was a reasonable chip and at least a bogey on this hole finally! (+6)

Hole 14: Tough par 3. But they moved forward the tee box to the whites so I was going in with a 9-iron for around 150+ meters. I over drew it and it landed on the left, near the fence but still have room for my chip. I chipped very well, to within 5 feet or so but just couldn’t covert the par. Bogey (+7)

Hole 15: Another par 5. This one has water on the right, so after a good drive in the middle of the fairway, I conjured a hopeless 5 wood which hooked horribly. I am now under a tree with nowhere. 3rd shot punch out, 4th shot from 100m zeroed in to the green and I had about 15 feet to save par. AND……I didn’t. Bogey (+8)

Hole 16: This is a short par 4 made slightly longer with the tees moved to the back. I usually hook this one because we think we can reach the green in one (and we never do) – but this time, without forcing, managed to land a nice 90 meters away, a simple sand wedge to around 20 feet, and two putt for my first par. (+8)

Hole 17: Another par 3, this time the one over water. Landed 8-iron on the fringe but with a terrible long putt over an undulating green. 3 putt time, which I duly obliged, for bogey. (+9)

Hole 18: Probably my first bad drive which i flared right, but caught a lucky bounce and was in the rough, around 110m from the green. It’s not an easy green (It’s an index 4 hole after all), and between a 9 iron and a pitching, I opted for the latter, and launched my second best pitching wedge of the day to around 15 feet on the fringe, back pin. I putted badly (should have chipped), but managed to sink in the 10 footer for par. (+9)

+9 at the turn is not bad for this course. The greens are terribly difficult, but so far, one 3 putt is pretty good and my drives were switched on, and my iron play and chipping was ok. Might be the time to break the 90.

Hole 1: Now, this was the best drive of the day. Cut the dogleg right, straight perfect drive, boring trajectory (not the over-spun, high draw I always hit), that just shot off the face of the club. The result? 30m from the green after cutting the dogleg completely. The consequence? A retarded flop/chip that was in between and no clue how to execute and finally landed short of the green. ARG! Chip wasn’t bad, but wasn’t great, it rolled around 10 feet past the cup and I missed the putt back. Crazy how two great drives (Hole 1, Hole 10) resulted in +3 over 2 holes. (+10)

Hole 2: This is technically a very easy par 3 to a green that is probably the flattest in the entire course. However, I skulled my sand wedge to the back, chipped on and two putted for a stupid bogey. (+11)

Hole 3: The long par 4 with trouble left. This time, popped my drive a bit and had around 130m to an uphill green. I should have opted for a 9-iron but instead my pitching was short and had a horribly long putt on an undulating green. Three putt? Yes, of course, for bogey. (+12)

Hole 4: Everyone’s favourite par 5 because it forces almost everyone to lay up. My drive was slightly pulled and unfortunately landed in the bunker on the left. My out was bad, 9-iron barely rolling past the 150m marker. At around 140m to a downhill green, it was either a controlled 9-iron or a muscled pitching wedge. The pin was a sucker pin right at the front, guarded by water all around. I hit the best pitching wedge of the day – starting right straight at the water and drawing it slightly in and landed just at the side of the green around a meter away from the water. From there, the undulation took it to 5 feet past the side of the hole, pin high. Doesn’t matter if the birdie can’t be caught, and thankfully (and finally, on this course) – I did sink it in. (+11)

Hole 5: The euphoria of the previous hole continued with a good drive, a layup of eight iron to 100m, and a perfect gap wedge to around 15 feet of the hole. I thought two birdies in a row would be cool so I blasted my putt way past and just stupidly missed my comeback for par. Three PUTT for bogey! (+12)

Hole 6: The long par 4. Good drive, and left with a 6-iron, which I promptly duffed to around 100m. Then a gap wedge to around 15 feet again, missed the par and settled for bogey. (+13)

Hole 7: Completely screwed up my 7-wood off the tee (second time in a row from last round), hooking it way left. This time, though, I managed to flop my wedge around 10 feet from the green, and chipped a great chip to inches from the hole. Chipping rocks! (+14)

Hole 8: This hole usually is my favourite but today they set up the tee box to the right – meaning, with my draw/hook, I had to stand outside the teebox with my ball teed up right at the edge of the left boundary. With this kind of retarded setup, I boomeranged my ball right to left and into bunker. From there, a poor out, left with a wedge which I chunked to around 10 feet. As in the last hole, hit a great chip to about 5 feet, and saved bogey again. Chipping really rocks! (+15)

Hole 9: Final hole tee box was similar to Hole 8, but this time my hook wasn’t so bad. And I got lucky. Bounced on the cart path and like Hole 18, landed at the side of the cart path about 80m from the green. My 60 degree however was poor and it landed only at the front of the green with a difficuly uphill putt. I hate to end the day with a three putt bogey, but unfortunately, I did. My first putt wasn’t great but my second putt from around 8 feet made a horseshoe around the hole. Another 3 putt on these dastardly difficult greens! (+16)

4 three putts in a round isn’t great but no complaints. The greens are really very difficult to putt. Otherwise, it was a good a round as I can hope for, with my chipping seemingly back in order and my drives were excellent. Iron play was off and on but the putter needs a bit of work. Malaysia Baru = Golf Baru!

KRPM Mini Tourney

We had a mini tournament of 16 people at Rahman Putra today. And boy, did I not do too well. The last outing wasn’t so bad, as I shot sub-90, but this time around the downpour the night before made for conditions that were not so ideal. Muddy, soft ground, hard bunkers = high scores.

Hole 1: Just like last time, pulled the tee shot to the left over the cartpath. Second shot had to punch out (not so good), and a 60 degree pitch (good one!) set me up for a 15 footer for par, which I expectedly missed (+1)

Hole 2. The very tough par 3. I actually hit a great 6 iron that didn’t draw enough. It landed on the fringe of the green on the right, hung there for a second then decide to roll into the damn bunker. In the bunker, the ball was between rake marks, I hit it poorly. Bunker was too hard and I hit it clean out to the other side, beyond the other bunker. 3rd shot, flop failed right into the other bunker. 4th shot out. Two putts for triple! (+4)

Hole 3. Par 5. Hit a dead straight drive into the woods. Manage to escape with a good 6 iron to around 120m, perfect distance. I used a gap wedge to hit to a downhill green which I hit smack in the middle but it annoyingly rolled off over. Note: don’t use shi*ty golf balls. My first attempt at a bump and run was ok – it trickled onto the green but not near enough for par. Bogey. (+5)

Hole 4. Pushed my drive way right but luckily missed the next hole’s pond. I duffed by pitching wedge a bit and had to chip on. Good chip, had around 10 feet for par, which I missed. Bogey (+6)

Hole 5. Par 3 with an 8 iron was short, so another chip. This time, not a solid one, way short, and 2 putt for bogey (+7)

Hole 6. Hooked this one to the left and managed to punch out. Now, with around 90 to the downhill green, I hit my 60 degree short. I realised much later on cow grass, I tend to dig more and I don’t get the distance I usually get compared to other fairways in the RHB courses (Mines, Trops, Glenmarie etc). I was about a few yards from the green. Usually I opt to putt but since I was testing my chip, I thought I can hit a good one. Not. Ball was duffed, didn’t even make the green. 2 Putted for double (+9)

Hole 7. Hooked again, this time another punch out. With around 100m to go, I once again opted for my 60 degree. I need to learn – when rain, don’t use the 60 degree! Chunked my third, chunked my fourth into the bunker, finally out with my fifth (barely), six on with a putt and 7 in. Triple. Once more due to my inability to adjust to wet conditions (+12)

Hole 8. Tough one. I drove pretty well actually.With a five iron second shot, I reached around a few yards of the green. Chipped again and yes, its ok but I still had around 15 feet for par on a very tough green. Two putted for bogey. (+13)

Hole 9. Really a very stupid hole for me. I played my first two shots perfect. Great 5-wood to the edge of the lake, a six iron to set me up around 110m from the hole. I semi chunked my pitching wedge into the greenside bunker. Like Hole 2, I couldn’t get enough sand due to it being so hard and ended up hitting the ball clean to the very end of the green. Three Putted for double bogey (+15)

Wow. That’s a very high score. But it was really due to my brain farts more than the condition of the course.

Hole 10. Doesn’t start great as my drive found the right fairway bunker. My shot out was poor and I had around 160 to go to a downhill green. I stuffed an 8-iron to around 20 feet of the hole (it actually hit the front of the green but kept rolling and rolling). Two putt for par. (+15)

Hole 11. Pulled my 5-wood (again!) but hit a reasonable 5-iron that passed the hazard. I had to do a chip again, and not bad, I had around 10 feet to save par which I missed (+16)

Hole 12. Uphill par 3. Once more, a good six iron set me up for an easy chip, which I did not do it easily. My ball scampered to around 15 feet over the hill and I was luckly to escape with a bogey. (+17)

Hole 13. A relatively easy hole which I pulled my drive but luckily hit a tree on the left. I crafted a gap wedge through a gap between the trees and landed about 10 feet above the hole for my reasonable birdie look. I missed it and par. (+17)

Hole 14. A good draw drive to the center of the fairway but I hit a very poor 9 iron which landed on the left, around 10 m left to the green. I executed a perfect chip for my third shot that landed and rolled to about 5 feet from the hole. Saved par! (+17)

Hole 15. Really sort sighted this one. It was playing at the whites, so I thought I can muscle in a gap wedge in there. Nope. It did cross the hazard, but it landed, jumped backwards and rolled into the water. Dropped, hit on the green and had around 15 footer downhil which I missed for bogey. Double bogey (+18)

Hole 16. The start of the 3 toughest holes in the course.I hung my drive too far right, and my second shot clipped the trees and into the water (again!). Hit my 4th on, two putted for double. (+20)

Hole 17. HOOKED! Luckily there was an opening which I punched out. So I was around 140m away to an uphill green and this should be money for me. Instead I shanked the hell out of my 9 iron to the righ. I was lucky it was still alive. I pitched pretty ok for my fourth, two putted for double (+22)

Hole 18. Perfect drvie – the first one of the day!My 7 wood crossed the lake and set me up around 100m to an uphill green. Gap wedge stuffed to around 15 feet but it was an extremely tricky putt which I had to aim 90 degrees from the hole, up the slope and down again. Three putted for my last hole again for a bogey! (+23)

Conclusion: My other mates were not having a great time also. The ground was muddy and soggy, but the sun was roasting us alive under its heat. Humidity was at its worst and even my climalite shirt was completely soaked. It was really the worst weather for golf – extreme hot weather right after a thunderstorm.

I ended up more or less at the middle of the pack. Given the conditions, it wasn’t the worse I have played. Plenty of positives, especially the chipping continues to improve as I get more confident to bring the stroke into the course.

Struggles on Palm Garden

You have heard of horses for courses.

Its true in many sense for golf – some golf courses are just right for the eye – like Mines – everytime I play there, I feel like I can score a pretty good score. Generally when the course is set up to punish slicers I am happy as my ball almost never goes left to right. Some courses are nightmares to hookers like me – Rahman Hills is an example, where every problem is on the left. Seri Selangor, without a doubt.

But one course that I really can’t wrap my head around is IOI Palm Garden. From the outset you would think its a course you can have for breakfast. Pristine fairway, great greens, not so long, attackable in almost every sense – the index holes are not tough – but the craziness of it all is – WHY CAN’T I BLOODY SCORE IN THIS COURSE?

Hole 1: I started actually quite well. My drive missed the fairway bunker by a few feet and from 110m, I stuck my gap wedge to around 15 feet, downhill putt. The putt was very fast and I just overpowered it and missed the come-back. 3 -putt to start but ok, not too bad. (+1).

Hole 2: The easy par 3, but sometimes I tend to hit short. Not this time, I hit a good sandwedge in but again, it was over the hole around 20 plus feet. This time, two putt par. (+1).

Hole 3: Of all times to hook it, I hooked it. It hit the cartpath on the left and unluckily went out of bounds. Reloaded and found the left rough, and my 9 iron approach was good, but right of the green. I tried my hand in chipping for the first time – and very well done. It was perfect and rolled to around 2 feet and I managed to double bogey. GREAT CHIP! (+3)

Hole 4: The classic par 5. Hit an OK drive, but it drew a bit to the left but no harm done. My second shot basically took me to the perfect spot. Around 80 meters away from the so-called island green. I don’t think I would screw this up. Oh Wait. I did. I skulled my 60 degree STUPIDLY and it basically buried itself into the green bunker’s slope. I fluffed my bunker shot poorly (its an impossible lie anyhow) and it zipped into the water. Dropped for six, and actually chipped very well close and double bogeyed (+5)

Hole 5: Back to back par 5. Hit a pure drive that almost reached the fairway bunker on the right. A routine regulation on and had a 15 footer for birdie which I barely missed. Par. (+5)

Hole 6. This is the index 1 par 4 which isn’t so Index 1. A nice drive, but with a nine iron in my hand, I conjured up a crap shot that pulled into the left greenside bunker. What a waste! Hit an ok shot out and had a 10 – 12 footer to save par which once more I missed. (+6)

At this point, I felt pretty solid with my game. My chips were spot on, and really, if it wasn’t for that hopeless hook on the 3rd and the bad 60 degree on the par 5 4th, my scores would have been solid. The putting isn’t great though, and I think one of the things about this course is the undulating greens and faster than normal roll.

Hole 7. Just when you think its fine, it comes crashing down. This isn’t an easy par 3 to begin with, but its manageable. But with my 7 wood in hand, I duffed it so badly, it badly trickled 30 meters away, and before the ladies tee box. Shocked, I duffed my second shot as well, and facing a third shot flop shot, I hit a poor 60 degree that didn’t even reach the green. My 4th chip was finally on, very far away, two putted for a shocking (and unexpected) triple bogey. (+9)

Hole 8. Recovering from that was tough, but the last two holes always had good memories for me. I however, pushed my drive so far right this time that I was on the next hole’s rough. Luckily I had an opening which I hit my 60 degree over and onto the green, 8 feet from the hole. Burned the side of the hole with my birdie putt and settled for my par (+9)

Hole 9. A good, good drive set me up slightly on the right. This is a sucker pin to hit because it was set up in the narrow side of the green on the right where you had to hit over the bunker and stop it dead or else it would roll down over the hill. I don’t think I ever hit a better 60 degree before in my life. It lofted just over the bunker and dropped, rolled to the fringe, almost over the green. I had a 10 footer again for a birdie which I once more missed, and settled for par. (+9)

Hole 10. Cross over to the par 5. I hooked this ball to the left and thought I had OB’ed. Played a provision and luckily found my ball hanging on the rough a bit on the left. I hit my second to around 100 meters and facing an uphill, I was switching between my sand and gap. I settled for gap and stuffed it to – again! – around 12 feet of the hole, and an extremely makeable birdie putt. And again, I missed for par. (+9)

Hole 11. I was a little on the roll here. This is a very nice downhill hole, where my driver found me around a 120m away from the uphill green. I always hit short on this, so this time, decided to go long a bit with my pitching wedge. Right choice and it found me with a birdie chance around 10 feet, with a downhill sashay. I thought this would be my chance, but once more, missed the go**amn birdie!! That’s 4 makeable birdies within 12 feet that I have suffered to miss!!! (+9)

Hole 12. Going into the 12th with 4 pars in the row should make me a happy guy but instead, I was pissed not making any birdies of those close approach shots. This par 3 needs to land on the right and it would trickle down to the back of the steep green, where the flag was. I hit –what I thought was a perfect pitching wedge — but instead of catching the hill on the right, it spun back on the false front and slided all the way down to the front of the green – very very far away. I couldn’t recover and three putted for a bogey. (+10)

Hole 13. A very tough par 5 which I never ever scored well. The last time I played on this cursed hole I hit a freaking tree on my third and it rebounded OB. This time, I was so scared of the left water, I hooked my drive to the left. No harm. I hooked my 6-iron again but it is on the fairway around 130m away from the green. Its on the fairway and looks very very good. Like how I screwed up the other par 5, my pitching wedge inexplicably pushed right – as if the bloody water was a magnet for my bloody ball – and splash. I think I played this hole a thousand times and every time I mess it up. Always, my third. I dropped , hit my fifth, found the front of the green, but so totally pissed off, I three putted for triple. Stupid, stupid hole. 13 is the unlucky number and I am (+13) as well.

Hole 14. Tough par 3 to pair with unlucky 13. This time, I managed to avoid the left OB and hung out too far right, into the bunker. Routine out from the bunker (i.e not so good), and two putted for bogey. Its a good score here. (+14)

Hole 15. At this point, the flight in front of us were really killing our buzz. Slow, and hopelessly inadequate in terms of skills, they were forcing us to wait on every shot, and the more I waited, the more pissed I became. I am a very impatient golfer, I admit. My drive here was so poor, it bounded almost into the water fronting my tee box. Luckily the ball was alive a bit on the left, but a long wait and I pulled my 7 wood further left. At this point I was on the other hole’s fairway, around 160 away for my third. Again, a long wait. Duffed my 6 iron into a fairway bunker. Bunker out with my fourth, and still away from the green. Tried to five – on but hit a poor shot that flew over the flag and left me with an extremely long putt over an undulating green. Three putted for triple. (+17). Pissed.

Hole 16. This is the very easy driveable hole. Short par 4, just straight down. Waited for a long time for the front flight to clear because we could actually drive this green if we catch it. I did catch it, but it went straight right instead of drawing. Smack into the flower beds. Took a free drop, and hit a mediocre 60 degree to the right fringe. Chip was so-so, left me around 10 feet which I failed to convert for par. (+18). Hey, chip is not bad though.

Hole 17. Downhill par 3, and I semi-duffed my 8, so it hung on the front rough just missing the bunkers. Hit a very poor chip – but based on my chipping record for the day, I can’t complain much – I hit more good ones than bad ones. Had to settle for bogey. (+19)

Hole 18. OK – blasted my drive right next to the fairway bunker on the right, and actually hit a good 9 iron in from around 140m. It avoided the water, hugged the right but for some reason landed dead on the green instead of rolling forward. I had a long around 25 – 30 feet putt, which I lagged to around 4 feet. Should be a routine par, but I pulled my putt and unfortunately ended with a bogey. So I started the game with a three putt bogey and ended the day with a three putt bogey. Good symmetry. (+20)

Conclusion: At 92 gross on what should be an easy course is very disappointing. More so because those triple bogeys could so easily be avoided. I would like to lay blame on the slow-a$$ jokers in front of us, but to be fair, I should be managing my own game – slow players are part of the curse of this world, they will always be around till the end of time, so it’s just how we manage our game around these people…and frankly, I did a poor job of it. Better luck next round then.

The Return to Rahman

After a long layoff (so long in fact that I didn’t even realised that my club has issued new membership cards), I finally managed to get a very fast game into Rahman Putra, Championship (Lakes) course. The objective was really to get my chips/pitching more ready for actual play. I’ve been practicing in my garden but those are entirely different conditions. Rahman, with its cowgrass and tight lies around the green should indicate if any of my methods are actually working.

Hole 10: Teeing off at the harder back 9, I promptly hooked my drive into the water. Dropped, submarined my 3rd shot by 7 wood and with an approach shot of 110m, I hit my gap wedge much to short – and here comes the chip, and while I got good contact on it, I chipped it much too long and had to two-putt for double. (+2)

Hole 11: Hit a reasonable 5 wood which had a baby hook, but on the rough on the left, hit my 6 iron that flew the green bunker and trickled to around 8 feet of the hole. Sank the birdie! (+1)

Hole 12: 150+ meters up hill, I hit my 7-iron slightly short and had another chip to test. Hit a pretty good one with my gap, which landed just on the fringe but refused to move onto the green which would have been perfect. Two putt, bogey. (+2)

Hole 13: Easy par 4, just drive it, which I did. Landed around 70 meters from the green on the left with the ball sitting up in the rough. Now, for the testing pitch. 60 degree, inches away from being very good, but still an excellent contact which made me do a wardance of delight. Two putt for par (+2)

Hole 14: This is not an easy hole, but with my crooked drive, landed in the left bunker (I note that my drives are still hooking to the left a fair bit). With an 8-iron, I managed to hit a good bunker shot, which caught the trees on the right near the green and yes – another chip shot. And a good one at that, sank the par putt. (+2).

At this point I was feeling quite good about my chipping. There has been some pretty good contact and although these were not exceptional by any stretch of imagination, you need to understand where I was a few weeks earlier. I couldn’t even chip/pitch without feeling shaky all over, and skulling the damn ball all over the place.

Hole 15: Par 3, pretty easy one, I landed on the green but this time, three putted for bogey. Dang (+3)

Hole 16: The tough stretch begins. I boomed my best drive of the day  and had around 150m left to the green. My 8-iron fell woefully short and facing a chip I should be confident about, I duffed but contacted it, but it was poor – early indication I still suck. Two putted for bogey (+4)

Hole 17: Good, good drive to a tough tough hole. But skulled my 7-wood that just managed to cross the water, but  hung on the slope. I unfortunately shanked my 60 degree 3rd shot! It seems I am insisting to chip today. A chip that was poor (but still had contact), two putted for double (+6). Frustrating due to an excellent start position.

Hole 18: A poor topped drive but with 7-wood, managed to cross the water and left with 70 meters for my third. 60 degree was well hit to around 15 feet away from the hole. But, my first putt was too aggressive and the ball trickled down the green too fast…too far. Three-putted for bogey! (+7)

This 9 could have been much better, if I had putted properly. But then again, some of my chips were good as well, so it evened out.

Hole 1: The back 9 was bad because we ended up playing behind a MASSIVELY slow group. MASSIVELY. I hooked my drive into the woods on Hole 1, punched out, and half chipped/half pitched to the fringe, and two putted for bogey. (+8)

Hole 2: Tough par 3. I actually duffed my ball so badly it didn’t even reach the water! So for my second, my sand wedge dropped to around 15 feet, and two putted to escape with bogey! (+9)

Hole 3: Not a good drive, a bit of hooked left me slightly behind the small palm trees. But with a 5 wood hit well with natural hook, it left me on the fairway from around 120m to a downhill green. I should have hit this green with my eyes close but instead with my gap wedge I conjured a crap approach that drew too much and landed for a testing chip. A poor chip left me too much to do and managed a frustrating bogey. (+10). Seems like my chipping is going back to retardedness.

Hole 4: Another drive, another hook. But this time, with a lucky break as I have a window between the trees on the left. Pitching wedge on the green! And once more – 3 putted!! DANG (+11)

Hole 5: Hit my tee shot too short which left me with a somewhat difficult chip to a back pin. A mediocre chip which ran slightly too far to the back fringe and from there two putted for bogey. (+12). I have started my back 9 with 5 straight bogeys.

Hole 6: HOOK! Trickled down to the next hole’s rough, near the next hole’s bunker. Without any way out, I punched out and with a third shot from around 110m downhill, a sand wedge took me to around 10 feet from the hole and by some stroke of incredible luck, sank it for par (+12)

Hole 7: At least a straight drive this time. With around 150 to the hole, I hit my best 8-iron, perhaps of all time. You know you hit a perfect shot when the finishing is there, when the impact is there, when you feel a bit of buzz on the feedback from the shaft and the ball flight is perfect. On that shot itself, you feel – hell, this is a pro shot. The only difference is that the pros hit these shot 93% of the time. We hit these shots 7% of the time. Dropped to 8 feet and just missed my birdie and settled for par (+12)

Hole 8: The toughest hole. I topped my drive but still managed to find fairway, although an incredible distance away. A 7 wood took me to around 20 meters from green and pitching distance. Again, a very good pitch to a very difficult green. It left me on the fringe, and a slippery two putt for bogey (+13)

Hole 9: A good 5 wood  and 7 wood left me to around 110m to a very uphill green. Unfortunately I couldn’t close with a good approach shot, my pitching wedge leaving me to the right of the green. I want to end the day with a super chip, but instead skulled it and airmailed it to around 15 feet past the pin with an extremely fast, curvy downhill. Managed to negotiate the putt for a bogey finish. (+14)

Conclusion: It’s ok. I like where my chipping is heading. My driving is not heading in the same direction though but like I said, you can compensate for drives but not for short game. An 86 gross on the traditionally difficult Lakes of Rahman, after more than a year not playing the course is, to me, a fairly good score!

Desa Dungun Golf Club

Introduction

After what seems like FOREVER, we finally managed to play in a course that we have never set foot on and after such a long period, we finally have a review! Our last review was years ago.

We were here at Tanjung Jara during a quick family vacation, which also means an escape from the hustle bustle of screaming kids for a few hours and running over to the nearest golf course to hack a few holes in the shortest time possible. So anywhere I am headed, I do a quick search of the nearest golf course in the vicinity. (Un)fortunately, the closest we had was a course called Desa Dungun Golf Club (or Kelab Golf Desa Dungun, as it might be known), around 15 minutes away from where we were staying. I mean, why not? How bad can it be? So away we went, merrily after breakfast over a Saturday early morning.

Price (2/5)

You will notice that we have given up giving marks for travel. I mean when I started this blog more than 10 years back, there was no such thing as google map, Waze or whatnot. All we had were very cryptic maps over the internet, and guidance from the stars and wind to get to the golf course we were trying to find. However, over the years, these free GPS had basically rendered obsolete the problem of getting lost.

So now, we jump right into pricing.

Desa Dungun gives an initially attractive green fee – RM40 per person for a weekend rate. I don’t know about the weekdays. However, the buggy is RM60, so if you split two people, it becomes RM70 per person. If you are playing alone, you are paying RM100. That’s not so cool, when you realise that with Visa Infinite you can play Mines, Kota Permai, Glenmarie, Sungai Long, Tropicana and Palm Garden all within RM100 range. So really, if you are playing alone, you might want to forget about the buggy. But we won’t recommend it. Because in fact, with the buggy, it is the fastest mode of travel you will wish you have after playing a few holes on this course – you simply cannot wait to get your butt out of the course. So no, I don’t think the price is great. The fact that you will wish you had a buggy sort of makes it imperative for you to have one.

First thoughts

Remember the infamous TUDM course? The review brought so much comments (mostly negative, some vitrolic, and mostly from their own members who can’t seem to take criticism) that I had to sign up for a witness protection program for a while. A lot of TUDM golfers were pissed with what they presumed to be very disrespectful remarks about their beloved course. Unfortunately, call it as we see it. If I see a pile of turd, I am not going to call it Bak Kut Teh. And TUDM is the biggest pile of turd we have in Malaysia. Until, maybe, maybe now.

Are you serious? You remark. What could possibly be worse than the TUDM course? Well, if this doesn’t do it, then I am pretty sure it comes close.

Look, honestly, we wanted it to be good. We woke up 6.45 am for a drive down here, during our holidays. After putting my screaming kid to bed at 2 am and having hardly 3 hours of sleep. I prayed that it would at least be a reasonably golf course to sacrifice our precious sleep for. And you know – this club is the oldest club in Terengganu. So that has to count for something. I mean, RSGC style, maybe?

Rolling into the single story club house, RSGC style was immediately off the table and TUDM firmly back in.

Service (3/5)

The gentleman behind the counter was very efficient. He collected our cash, rolled up with a buggy and seem to be doing everything. And for that, we appreciate it. Other form of services, such as course maintenance, course marshal etc are all non-existent. In fact, the club is now using photostated copies of their score card, so technically they are using score papers. I find the staff quite friendly – and I think its the culture in these parts, the laid back, take it easy sort of style. Obviously we did not try any F&B or whatsoever, but you know, their buggy was actually very new and function very well (unlike the piece of crap you drive around in TUDM). This is already a plus point!

Fairways (0/5)

And now, the real review begins.

It’s hard to review the fairways.

Because there is none. No fairways. All you see is a land of sand, with tufts of grass screaming out for water. It’s, I would venture to add, the worst fairway we have ever experienced in the history of our golf experiments. In fact, we came to a point after the 3rd hole that we played ‘preferred lies’. Meaning, we can pick up our ball and search for any grass available and place carefully on the patched of chosen grass to play. I mean, you need to see it to believe it. Mostly we want to hit the ball in the thick rough instead of the fairway, beause at least, we have grass. This is serious, not a joke. This is the first golf course where fairways are actually PUNISHMENT for you.

So why isn’t it rated -1, like that travesty of a golf course TUDM? Because we played this stupid preferred lies, and you know, we started driving like PGA tour distance. Because the ground was so hard, it was like the ball would hit cement and roll and roll and roll and …. In fact, at one hole, my drive almost drove the green at 340 meters. No joke. I was left with around 50 meters left. Another one, my partner topped the ball, it whizzed past the ladies and rolled and rolled and rolled forever. He was left with a 120m shot to the hole. So, yes, the fairway is HOPELESS, but that’s not to say we detested it so much because we all became Dustin Johnson overnight.

The ground is so hard, it is impossible for plastic tees to penetrate on some holes. Unless you have a Bosch drill with you, you need to do what we did. We gathered up sand and soil and made a Laura Davies kind of dirt tee…i.e just placing our ball on top of a small mound of sand we need to design. Like sand castles. What. The. Flaming. Heck.

Greens (1/5)

No. It’s horrible. It’s similar to TUDM style. No greens are the same. Some greens have six different type of grass growing. Your ball will spend more time in the air bouncing like a pinball than on the green. We in fact came to a point that if the ball was in flagstick length, we would pick up the ball. Now, its not to say there is no redemption. Two or three greens were actually playable, so this is better than TUDM, but still, it’s a suffering akin to pulling off all your nostril hair at once.

Rough ( 1/5)

Aside from the course doubling up as a junkyard, the rough is also not great. Rubbish everywhere, plastic bottles strewn across some fairways, tumbleweed tumbling by, with an Irish Leprecaun cackling with delight at your stupidity of playing this course. Now, the sand is playable, hence the 1. The bunkers are a lot better than TUDM…Sorry, we need to run comparisons of these two courses due to both being in the East Coast and both chasing for the absolutely crap , worse course in Malaysia title. Additionally, because the fairways were so horrendous, it made the rough looked like the beautiful grass of Augusta. It’s like you see an ugly painting, and you put another painting which is basically cow crap splattered all over it in random fashion, immediately, the first painting looks like Van Gogh, right? Same same.

Aesthetics ( 0/5)

I don’t really recall anything about any hole in this course. It’s very flat. Very. There is hardly any undulation and they might try to advertise this as a ‘links’ styled course, but no, it’s anything but a links styled course. The only link you will find is the chain link fence near one hole that is basically torn down so that the neighbourhood can basically throw all their garbage in It’s more like a field where cattle generally will graze and they suddenly decide to create a golf course to reclaim the land. The cattle is obviously still grazing since all the grass on the fairway is GONE. Absolutely nothing to recommend. If they were to choose a signature hole for this course, I would select one of the many iguana holes that are being burrowed all over the course by these cute little lizards.

Fun Factor (0/5)

In one fairway, as I was preparing to hit my second shot, I heard my partner yelling, “Wait Stop! Car coming!”

I looked up, shocked, thinking he meant “CAR-T” as in Buggy cart, from the maintenance coming. No, he meant CAR. As in AN ACTUAL CAR that’s supposed to be on the road, and not on the golf course. It rumbled through our fairway, over our line of sight of the green and happily chugged to the hut nearby. You have heard of buggies, but you will now experience the fairway where cars are actually allowed.

We also have one hole (I think the 10th hole) which is literally right next to the main beach road where all the cars are zooming back and forth. You’d expect some netting to catch balls slicing out. But no the only boundary you have is a dilapidated wall that is about 5 feet high, effective to catch balls if a colony of termites decide to play golf. We were so afraid we will kill someone on the road that we aimed so far left, we played the other fairway on purpose. I mean we are all out of towners. If we killed someone, I am not sure what’s going to happen to us here.

And speaking of which, the entire design of the course is senseless. We end up making huge u-turns to the next tee box, or crossing other people’s fairways to reach another tee box. In more than 3 occasions, we were searching for the next tee box like a bunch of treasure hunters. It’s as if they created a golf course and then remembered golf courses had 18 holes, and not 15, and the other three holes are basically randomly plastered all over the place.

And maybe it’s the laid back culture here, but we were stuck behind groups that were so slow, I could actually feel my stubble regrowing again on my chin. And I am Chinese. This means, my stubble grows at the speed of 1/20 of normal people growing a stubble.

Did we have fun?

Let’s put it this way, we were very happy that we had a new-ish buggy to haul ass as quickly as possible.

The only positive I have out of this is that my chipping continues to improve. The last hole, I almost chipped in. And many other occasions, I am actually chipping properly. Obviously this has nothing to do with the golf course, but it still made me a slightly less grumpier human. Can’t wait to play golf on an actual golf course again.

Conclusion

Oooh boy. Look, if you are in the resort where we were, you don’t have much of a choice unless you have the whole morning to spare. We teed off around 8 and played speed golf and finished 10.30 am. It could have been less if we weren’t stuck behind a few groups. Unless you are willing to drive far, you can probably experience better courses out there. But as it is, this is the only golf course that’s near enough and if you play speed golf, you can finish it quickly and get back in time before the breakfast buffet concludes. Do we recommend this? Oh God, no. You are better off spending your time on the beach, or in the pool, or sleeping, or just siting down, watching the grass grow.

The good: The history of the club – at least you can say you played the oldest course in Terengganu, survived and lived to tell the tale. I mean, look, compared to the TUDM we reviewed years ago, this is better. So, I suppose that’s saying something that its NOT the worst course in Malaysia.

The bad: Fairways feel like you are playing golf in a desert; greens are hopeless, they are actually fairways quality in other courses; aesthetics is as beautiful as staring at a gibbon’s ass, and fun factor? Look, we need to be fair. If you weren’t rushing like us, or you hadn’t played Kota Permai, Mines, Tropicana etc and be spoilt brats like us in golf, you can probably work out a bit of fun here. Because the walk is leisurely since the course is so flat. And you know, it’s still near the beach and you can get a fairly good exercise in.

The skinny: 5 of 30 divots (16.6%). So, while it escaped the wonderful honour of being the worst course in Malaysia, its still firmly set in the absolutely crap course you will want to visit only as a novelty, like how you would like to see a guillotine work, but probably do not want to put your head under it. Take a buggy, zoom as fast as you can, play as fast as you can, and get back to wherever you come from and have breakfast.

Palm Garden and Chipping

So, for the first time this year we played at Palm Garden Golf at Putrajaya. It’s actually a reasonably easy course but for some strange reason, scores are never good over here.

But today, I had another mission: solve my chipping problems. It needs to be resolved. I’ve developed a really stupid, but maybe effective method. I address the ball in a narrow stance, with the ball in the centre. Then I shift my feet to 45 degrees of the ball, as in, in a really open position as if I am hitting the ball 45 degrees to the left of its intended target. Then I move my hands back to address the ball.

What this does is that I am chipping with an extremely exaggerated open stance. I’ve tried many times in my garden back home and I am hitting them perfectly. So it’s time to take Ranger Rick to the course.

Hole 10: We started at the Bismark course and immediately at the tough par 5. I haven’t resolved my drives yet, but again, my priority was to figure out my chipping so I didn’t really care much. I was still pulling my drive. My second shot was a good 5 wood, leaving me around 90 meters to the green. I hit my 3rd shot sandwedge fat and immediately now was left with a tricky chip over the rough onto the green. I took my sandwedge out, did all my standard setup and…..skull. I don’t get it. I can hit it perfectly from anywhere at home and when it comes to the course, it’s…completely fishes up. The skull left me with a long putt for par which I missed, settled for bogey (+1). DANG!

Hole 11: Tough par 4, but I didn’t hit it badly. I just pushed my drive straight right but for some weird reason, couldn’t find my ball. I am unlucky in many ways and usually if there is a ball missing, then it’s mine. I took a drop near the trees and stuffed a gap wedge to around 8 feet, and sank the bogey putt (+2).

Hole 12: Easy par 3. Aimed right with my gap wedge to around 110 meters and stuffed it to around 6 feet! I missed the easy birdie badly but hit the comeback for par. (+2)

Hole 13: This is the massive par 5 which as long as you don’t go right you are fine. I went left. WAAAY left. Surrounded by trees I actually hit a very lucky shot that skim every branches along the way and landed around 100 meters in the rough on the left. Now, it was an easy sandwedge to the green, with only one skinny palm tree in front of me. And amazingly, I hit the the palm tree smack in the middle of its trunk, rebounded into oblivion behind me to OB. Amazing luck. I could try to hit that tree a 1,000 times and never get it. Dropped for 5th, duffed the shot near the green. Chipping time! I used a gap wedge and I chipped it too hard over the green.  Seven on and one putted for a very unfortunate triple. (+5) However, the plus is that I actually contacted my chip.

Hole 14: It goes downhill fast. Tough par 3,with OB on the left, which I promptly hooked into. My second hung onto the green, but I three-putted stupidly for another triple. Two in a row and it looks like this game is shot to hell. (+8)

Hole 15: A very broad par 5. This is a welcome sight because the fairway is so accomodating. Yet another hook, another missed fairway but no harm. I hit my 5 wood left, which left me dead inside the trees and which I had to punch out to around 100 meters. Should be my bread and butter, but I hit it fat. Chipping time! This time with a sandwedge, but it was poorly hit and my next shot crept into the green, then two putted for double (+10). The chipping at least wasn’t bad.

Hole 16: This is one of our favourite holes because you can power this one onto the green if you hit a great shot. I hit a poor drive and hooked it left, but it still left me around 70 meters to the green. I didn’t hit a good shot which left me on the rough near the green. Ah, chipping! I used my gap to chip and duff it slightly, so it went too short. Two putted for a bogey. (+11)

Hole 17: Nice par 3, but I played too short with my pitching wedge and landed into the bunker. One out, missed par for bogey. (+12)

Hole 18: Very bad drive. It was just straight top, veer left and somehow survive. Left me around 150 to the green, my 8-iron was topped and into the water. Dropped and hit on the green for my 4th, two putted for six. (+14)

So, made the turn at a very poor number. But strangely, I was enjoying my golf more because at least my chipping was improving. Honest!

Hole 1: This is relatively easy hole, but I again skull-topped-hooked my drive and had around 140 to the green. My 9 iron found the bunker, hit my third out, missed par, and went in for bogey (+15)

Hole 2: 9-iron went into the bunker, out in my second, missed par and settled for bogey (+16)

Hole 3: Long, long par 4. I hit a reasonably hooked shot, which left me around 160 away, but my 7 iron was hooked terribly, leaving me with a very very long putt. 3 putted easily, and expectedly for bogey. (+17)

Hole 4: This is a funny par 5 with island green approach. I hit the same skull hooked shot but somehow found my ball. A punch out, and another sandwedge left me around 100 meters to a downhill green. Another committed SW took me to around 10 feet from the hole, but couldn’t save par and settled for bogey. (+18)

Hole 5: Another par 5. This time. This time, I hit the best drive ever. Ever. It flew for miles and the release was perfect. My second shot, I stubbed my 5 wood and hooked it to the left but no harm done. I was only around 60 meters. My 60 degree was very poor and I only managed to get onto the front. But finally, a two putt – par to take home. (+18)

Hole 6: Tough hole. Hit a hook to the left but still in a good spot. Hooked my 6 iron and it hit literally the only small tree in the vicinity of around 30 meters from the green. CHIP/PITCH! I took my sandwedge, implemented my extreme open stance and yes, hit a brilliant pitch to around 6 feet of the hole. I felt like doing a rain dance then and there. I celebrated too much I think as I powered my par putt like 4 feet past, and couldn’t hit the return! Double bogey – but very happy with my pitch (+20)

Hole 7: VERY tough par 3. Long and again, hooked my 7 wood into the adjacent fairway. Wow. I was faced with a very tough shot over trees onto an extremely sloping green. 60 degree wedge, implemented my open stance again and executed a very good flop over trees and softly to the edge of the green. Extremely quick putt was done nicely to around 2 feet and putted in for a very unlikely bogey. (+21)

Hole 8: This is a fine hole and I hit a very good drive. I was on the right rough and I must have misjudged my sandwedge so poorly that I duffed it. Now, I am about 40 meters with a daunting pitch. I hit a ‘meh’ pitch to the front of the green, but considering here I was weeks ago, this was a success. It actually flew over the bunker and got caught onto the fringe. I putted for par to around 2 feet and unfortunately, missed the bogey putt when my ball rattled around the hole. Bad double, but hey, chipping/pitching is fun again. (+23)

Hole 9: Hit a good drive that completely flew the bunkers on the left. Left with around 70 meters and hit my 60 degree pitch shot again with my open stance. Getting really used to it now. It crept to the front of the green, and two putted for a routine par to end the round (+23)

Conclusion: You would think when someone scores 95 it would be an unmitigated disaster, but I really enjoyed the game. This is because I am beginning to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel to my chipping woes. Sure, my irons and drivers still suck, but generally I am fine with those because I can compensate by aiming right to accommodate my hooks. I am not concerned. The chips however…you can’t escape this. There is no bail out, there are no compensating factor here.

Open stance, good tempo, and my chips will be fine. I just need to clock in a few more rounds to get this down to habit and I am ready for fine golfing again.

I gave in to Astro

For many years, I’ve treated Astro as extortionist in providing so called sports package without golf channel. So I cut golf channel and told Astro I rather cut off my left arm than to subscribe to them again and give them all my hard earned money.

However.

After 3 years without Golf Channel, I finally could not resist the urge anymore and tapped in to subscribe to the channel for an extra RM10.60 per month. It’s not the money. Its the principal of paying this company.

Yes, I hear of so many alternatives like android TV etc. But am I brave enough to let go of Astro and go for these options? Sacrifice my football? Maybe, but let’s do it after World Cup. I can’t afford not to watch World Cup.

But yes, so I woke up on a Monday morning at 1.50 am to watch Mr Tiger Woods tee up in the second last group of the Valspar Championship. Honestly, without Tiger, nobody even knew what the hell this Valspar is about. I have no clue. Google Valspar and instead of the company information, everything is about Tiger Woods. You have one man instantly making a company nobody in this universe has heard of, suddenly famous.

To be honest, I had my misgivings of Tiger. Too many false dawns. Watching him chip and play in 2015 was like watching Michael Jordan missing a dunk in my 5 year old’s toy basketball game. It was painful and horrible. When he recovered a bit and wanted to play the 2017 season and then quit, I thought: The man is gone. How I wish I recorded all those games he played. You never know what you miss until it leaves you. And that was what Tiger was, not just to me, but to millions of golfers around the world.

But this time, he was sizzling. Like pre-car crash Thanksgiving day sizzling. You can see his drive. His iron shots. The swoosh sound of his irons and the thud of his impact. El Tigre was here and strangely, this time, the dawn isn’t so false.

So I watched, hole after hole. Birdie to start. Second hole, par save. Awesome. Par 3 4th hole, bogey couldn’t get up and down. It’s OK. Plenty of scoring opps.

However, he started missing his irons, he started missing his putts.

The most demoralising stats was for the final round 4 par 5s, he only birdie one. 14th was a heartbreaker. He was on with his second stroke, but three putted. If he had hit that, he would tie Casey. The next hole par 3 15th, he zoned in his iron to 6 feet but again missed his putt. He would have won the damn championship.

Instead he led in a 40 foot putt on the 17th to get everyone excited, but his last hole was poor. Too long a putt to tie, and he faded to second.

Disappointing?

Yes, for sure. Because I didn’t sleep and I went to meet a customer in the morning looking like a zombie.

But the great thing now is that I have Golf Channel back, and another Tiger Woods week in Bay Hill. Welcome back, TV golf!

The Myth of Club Distance

An interesting topic that has recently cropped up, and topped off by a gilagolfer via an email, is the distance that I am hitting. He wasn’t the first that pointed out that my distance seems long in my blog description, and I am not sure if I have overstated some of these distance, because most of the time, I am using the distance marker of the course to dictate my clubs I am using. So if the distance marker is screwed, then obviously my description is screwed. I always feel sometimes, the 100m marker on some courses are understated. I look at how far Usain Bolt runs in the 100m dash and I look at the marker to the green and I am like, “Hold on, this is way too near. Usain Bolt will just take like 10 strides to reach the green from here!”

So obviously there are some discrepancies, but in general my thought process is this:

a) If I am 150m away based on the marker, I am deciding if an 8 iron or a 9 iron, depending on the green (downhill or uphill, back pin, front pin etc). I rarely take out my 7 iron for anything these days.

b) If I am 160m away, I automatically select a 6 iron.

c) If I am 170 – 180m away, a 5 iron . A 5-iron off the tee also works for 190m, anything over 200m I am thinking a wood.

d) Anywhere 100m-110m, a gap wedge

e) Anywhere 130m, a pitching wedge.

f) Anything 90m t0 100m, a sand wedge.

Now, this is the actual thought process I have. And there might be actual reasons to it, and its not because I am hitting pro distance. Of course, there a lot of mental gymnastics being used.

a) Not true distance

The distance might not be to the pin. I usually play it short because I am too cheap to use good balls, so all my golf balls are really old and lousy and rolls a lot. Almost never I aim for the pin, so the green could be 160m away, but I am actually looking to land it around 150 or so and hope for a good roll.

b) Delofting

I also deloft my club A LOT. I noticed this stupidity in my swing, because I break my wrist so early in the take away, when I am impacting my irons, I feel like I am compressing the ball and slamming the ball into the dirt. I usually take out a divot the size of Brazil. My address to the ball is in a typically closed position, which also reasons why I sometimes yank my ball way left like a banana.

c) Clubs

And my clubs are MP-54s. The loft is a degree lower than my previous RAC LT irons for all the irons, so that also goes a fair way in terms of distance.

d) One strength

The other problem with my swing is that I have only one strength: MAX. I have no other way of slowing down my swing or shortening my swing or playing those finesse shots, which reasons why my short game is like a walrus humping an orca. This problem is translated into the fact that if I have around 80m to go and its between a soft sand wedge or a hard 60 degree lob wedge, I would go for the lob and whack the living $hit of out the ball.

e) Swing with a soon-to-be expiry date

Some golfers play with a swing that’s so natural and relaxed, you wonder if they are in a coma during the downswing. I have a friend in his 60s who bombs the ball a mile, but he swings like he’s going for a picnic. Of course, him being an ex national cager, ex national hockey player and extremely adept in his hand eye coordination helps, but you look at him and you think he can keep his swing well into his 90s.

Not mine.

I feel like I am wrestling with a damn anaconda all the time with my swing. It’s like this massive reptile is threatening to gobble me up if I don’t put it under control. I have to constantly remind myself never to flip my wrist early, always lean to the right, always shift my weight, always do this, that, stop my overswing etc. When I pull it off, I feel like I deserve to be in the PGA tour. When I miss it, I miss it so bad, I end up in the part of the course where nobody ever goes to. And always, in my mind, I am waiting for the day this swing kills my back or spine and I have to swing like Charles Barkley after that.

f) My Driver is not Pro

You can tell that, my drive, although pretty long by hacker standard is nowhere near the pro distance. I will be lucky to hit anywhere at the 250m range. I usually hit it short because at a 10.5 loft and stock shaft, my golf balls are generally ballooning up without much roll.

g) Shape of shots

I set my shots up to draw, and miss by hooks. I can’t fade to save my life. On shots that end up drawing, the rolls are more significant, giving an illusion of a longer distance. However, the problems are a lot more…as they say, you can talk to a slice but you can’t talk to a hook.

h) The Overestimation of Hackers

And finally, it could simply be the disease that inflicts all of us. We all overestimate our greatness. How many times we’ve heard people go like, “WOW, I’ve just a hit a 250m drive!” and when you walk up to it, you see that it has barely trickled past the 200m mark. So all of us, myself included has a myopic view when it comes to our golf distance and for some unknown and maybe unconscious reason, always lie about how long we are. All guys like that, maybe. About golf distance of course, you pervert.

So there you go, those are generally my explanation. I am not pro distance, not by a long shot. My scores tell the truth – good games are in the low 80s, average games are between 88 – 95, and horrible games can blow to 100s.

Third Time Lucky

Happy Chinese New Year!

We had a game this week, my third game of the year. The first two games were completely off…the first game in KGNS was a 100+ while the second in tropicana yielded an almost bogey free game – 5 doubles, 4 triples, 1 bogey and 8 pars.

This time around, we tried our luck at KGNS once more, and played A LOT better. The caveat is of course we played one nine on Championship and the other nine on what we term as the ‘Mickey Mouse’ course – i.e the non-Championship Kelana Course.I think we played a par 35 for that one. This caveat is balanced out with the fact that I was trying out by really old Hi-bore driver again, and an extremely old putter (PING B60 OLD), and another 60 degree wedge, other than my normal one. Switching clubs is always a problem in the best of times, its made even worse when you are struggling, but I thought, ah well, just for fun, why not.

The front nine was played in typical roller coaster fashion, but there were TONS of missed putts. Bad lag putts, bad short putts, and everything in between. It could be 2 – 3 strokes better, but at the end 3 bogeys, 3 doubles and 3 pars isn’t bad for Championship course.

Going into Kelana, it was again still very bad putting and chipping, but the last six was played with bogey, par, bogey, par, par, par to a +2. And this included a 3 putt and a missed birdie putts on most of the par holes. The back nine was played on a +5, and for the first time this year, managed to break 90.

So here’s to better golf!

The good news is now of course, fingers crossed, Tiger Woods is playing well again. I am thinking of subscribing to the Golf Channel once more, but the thought of the crooks at Astro getting any benefit is keeping me away from it.