Mines Golf Course: The Sub-80 round challenge

By far, Mines Golf Course is turning into my favourite golf course of all time. This is the third round for the year here, the first in which the 17th hole is now facing our current prime minister’s home. On February, I scored probably the best score I ever had in a long time – an 83 despite losing 5 balls. And despite having a hopeless short game at that point. The next round wasn’t so great as I played 88. But Mines was also the place where back in 2015, I litted up the course with 2 birdies on the back 9, and 9 pars  overall. So you can see this is definitely a course I love playing – its probably because of the broad fairways, the slower greens, and the problems set up for the hooker is less here. It just suits the eye for a lot of holes. and gives me confidence.

Hole 10: So much for confidence. We started off on the 10th, which isn’t a great hole to start, as the big-ass tree sits right in the middle of the fairway. The best position is on the left, but too much left, you end up in the hazard, which I promptly obliged with a horrible hook tee shot. I dropped and hit a 9 iron to the left rough, and I knew today wasn’t the day where I would excel in chipping, as I skulled my 4th shot to the back of the green, missed the comeback and started with a double bogey. Great. (+2).

Hole 11: This is a difficult par 3, uphill, around 160m, trouble on the right. My 6-iron barely clung on to the side on the right fringe, and a devilish downhill about 15 feet. I did not expect much from this, as I started the ball too quickly. It would have flashed by the hole 5 – 6 feet easily – but luck as it was, it slammed into the flag and dropped into the hole for a birdie out of nowhere (+1). OK!

Hole 12: The relatively easy par 5 which I have hit the damn tree on the right of the tee box everytime this year. It’s becoming a joke. They are going to name the tree after me. And yes, this time I hit it again, although barely rustled the leaves and my pushed drive landed into the fairway bunker. My 6-iron out was good, and left me with a nice 130m to the green. Stupidly I short sighted with my pitching wedge which I didn’t hit proper. It landed short, around 15 feet from the green, and I opted to putt. I could still par from there and get my score low. I was 4 on, with around 6 feet to navigate for par. I missed it, as the putt grazed the side of the hole but did not fall. Should have parred, but instead, bogey! (+2)

Hole 13: This and the next hole are killers – I wish I can escape with bogey for both, I would be happy. I hit an ok drive, straight on the 4th – but short. So much so that my second shot 6-iron landed a good 20 feet from the green. Without an option to putt, I tried to do my second chip of the day and duffed it. My chip is once more struggling, not as bad as before, but still….Chipped on for 4 on, and two putted for a stupid 6. I should have saved a stroke here if my chip was on. (+4)

Hole 14: Funnily, this hole – which is probably the rare holes in Mines that does not suit my eye – yielded my best drive. Dead straight, and perfect position around 140m or so. I used a 9 iron to muscle it there, but landed short. A reasonably good putt from off the green gave me just 3 – 4 feet which I navigated for my par. Finally didn’t screw up the hole! (+4)

Hole 15: This is a great hole to drive. Short hole, trouble right and if left, the hill usually carries the ball back down to the fairway. You can launch it for this one without fear if you don’t slice. My drive was so good, I only had around 50 – 60 meters to the downhill green. This wasn’t optimal as I struggle these distances. I had to opt for a save shot, and landed my 60 degree almost 20 – 25 feet away from the hole. Snaky downhill putt? No problem. Amazingly, I putted it in for my second birdie in this 9. YOW! Some serious scoring today! (+3)

Hole 16: Simple par 3,around 140 and the easiest par 3 in this course – my pitching wedge, which I thought I could muscle in – landed slightly short about 8 – 10 feet from the green. Luckily it was a red front pin. So I opted to putt. Guess what? The ball rolled in for my second bird in a row, and third overall this 9, after 7 holes! The caddy then told me I should try to go Q-School now. Yeah, right. (+2)

Hole 17: Tun’s hole because the green front’s Tun M’s (Our prime minister)’s house. The irony here is that a few blocks down, our FORMER prime minister has also bought a lot and currently building his fortress. It looks like a pyramid, and Fort Knox. Another good drive still left me around 175 – 180 meters to the uphill green. My driving and putting was seriously on for the first time today. My 5 iron second shot wasn’t great, but I was left with a puttable distance. My first putt was poor, as I thought it was downhill but it turned out to be uphill. Par putt grazed the side but had to settle for a bogey. It’s an ok score on this difficult hole, but it’s just that I’ve been scoring on this hole so well in past games. (+3)

Hole 18: Final hole this 9, I thought I hit a perfect shot that curved, following the fairway. But this is a tricky hole. Too much curve and it would be OB, so need to be careful next time. I was lucky that the ball didn’t end up in OB this time around, as it hugged the fairway on the left next to the jungle. But with no way into the green as blocked by trees, I had to muster a draw/hook shot around the trees. I did try, but I hit a great draw which wasn’t enough. Landed pin high, but on the right fringe with severe slope back to the green. Again with no confidence in the chips, I opted to putt off green. Which  overcooked and had to two putt back for an easy bogey. Ok. (+4)

Looking back at my first nine 39 score, I looked to be on track for some serious consideration to break 80 for the first time. My best ever score was many years back in Damai Laut for 80, and then I had a few 82, 83 here and there, but never in the 70s. My first 9 could have been  a lot better if I had capitalise to save 2 strokes on the 3rd and 4th where it was just missed short putt and duffed chip. But you know, that’s how golf is. How did I birdie 3 of 9 holes? Good putting, ok, but lots of luck too. So, as they say, Golf giveth and golf taketh away.

Hole 1: Started the back 9 with a solid straight drive that was a few feet away from the second fairway bunker. I was in the rough, with an uphill of around 110m. This is a green you do not want to go long as it drops into hazard after that. With a pitching wedge, that’s exactly what I did, but amazingly, the ball stayed up on the fringe, inches away from dropping into the valley. From there, a routine two putt for par. Golf giveth here. (+4)

Hole 2: This is a great Par 5. It has water on the left all the way and shaped like a boomerang. I hit a straight drive – but I was aiming way right thinking I would draw, so for the second shot, I was in deep rough. Couldn’t muscle my hybrid out and ended up behind the trees. A punch out to 100m and I could still hit a good approach – only I didn’t. I skulled my sand wedge to the back of the green. It was a 40 foot downhill putt, which I almost got it into the hole, missing by a few inches. Tapped in for bogey. Putter is feeling it. (+5)

Hole 3: Tough Par 4, index 1. It’s a long one, so even after a straight (but not very long) drive, I found myself around 180 to the green. My hybrid was pretty good, and I found myself around 10 feet  from the green, and puttable distance. Unfortunately, my off the green putt was bad, and shot past the hole for a 15 footer comeback. Missed, and tapped in for bogey. (+6).

Hole 4: This is relatively an easy hole if you can avoid the water on the right. Anything left is fine, which was what I did, put it on the fairway with around 100-110m to the green. Gap wedge it in to around 20 feet, and from there two putted for routine par. (+6).

Hole 5: I suppose this was where my sub-80 round unravelled. It was just one of those moments where it’s like sliding doors – IF ONLY I had chosen this, instead of that. In this case, I was holding a six iron staring at a flag around 150m or so away, but with water fronting it. For some reason, I then opted for a 7-iron. As I hit it, it was hit well and good, but the wind must have picked up because I missed the front of the green by a few feet, at the WORST possible spot, where it rolled down and down to a valley, and all the way to the edge of the water….stopped there for a few seconds…and plopped into the drink. If I had stayed with the six, I could probably have saved a shot. As it was, a drop, overputted it and two putted to the hole for a double bogey, my first double since the 4th hole. (+8)

Hole 6: Hole 6 is a great risk and reward par 4. It’s drivable, and I’ve actually driven it before. But because I hit a draw, in order to get this to the hole, I have to aim to the water on the right and hope it draws back. Being +8 now, I couldn’t afford to drop any strokes if I wanted to break 80, so I opted to aim straight instead. Sure enough, I drew it and the ball landed almost pin high but behind the greenside bunker. The worst shot ever for me. My chip didn’t even reach the green and my second chip finally got on, around 10 feet. Amazingly, the putter worked and I saved par. Still in the hunt! (+8)

Hole 7: And so the challenge ends. I skulled my 5 iron on this difficult par 3, which requires a carry of around 160 or so over water to the green. I should have bailed out on the left, but you know – wisdom being easier on hindsight. My ball ended up in the water, and from the drop, I put it on – two putted for double bogey, and ending all hopes for a sub 80 round. Unless I birdie the last two holes (+10).

Hole 8: This Par 5 is always nice to play. A good drive found me around 220-230m away from the green, which has a valley in front of it. There was no way I could reach it as I only have my 5-wood (no 3-wood) with me. Even so, I had to go for it, so I hit the 5-wood – well – but short, and ended up in the valley front of the green. A mediocre chip up found me on the fringe and another mediocre putt into the green had me to navigate around 8 feet of a curling left to right. Just like hole 6, my putter again worked magic and dropped the ball in for par. Nice – but not enough. (+10)

Hole 9: Final hole. And for once, a bad drive that faded as opposed to drew. But it was so long that it cleared all the trees and was on the rough right of the buggy track, around 140m from the hole. It was deep – and I could only muscle my 9-iron out to the front of the green, where it is puttable. I’ve been putting all day from this distance (just off the green), so why not. My birdie attempt again, was inches from dropping. Tapped in for par on the final hole (+10)

So I ended the best game this year with an 81. And the irony of it is that if only I managed to get two strokes back. Hole 12 and hole 13 comes to mind – both holes I could have saved a stroke. On the back 9, it was Hole 5. If I only had stuck with my 6-iron, I would have at least reached the green and maybe saved a stroke or so. But on retrospect, there were putts and birdies out there I had no right hitting and 6 pars + 3 birdies (all on the front nine) is a bloody good score … so Golf giveth and golf taketh away!

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