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.

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