Tropicana Crash and Burn

The amazing thing about golf is that you can be playing amazing one week and the very next game play like an African Gibbon. It’s very strange in that sense that it’s like a roll of the dice week in week out. You think you got it all figured out and golf just whacks you in the ass the next time and go, “Screw you, you know nothing about me, sucker!” and you are left wondering why the heck you continue to play this torturous game.

After last week’s 81 in Mines I was thinking I can go to Tropicana and score a really good score. You know, since I am playing “well”, and I had 3 birdies the last time out. Tropicana shouldn’t be an issue, right? We’ll see. We teed up at West 3, and then Cross Over to East 1. And boy, was I in for a hiding.

Hole 10: So in the West 3 – East 1 combo, West 3 is technically the back 9, so we started off on this relatively easy par 4, 10th hole. I hit a really good drive – honestly, it was good – great shot shape, but it drew in a bit and caught just the tip of the bunker, like maybe a few centimetres from safety, and rolled back in, right next to the high lip. From there, I could just do an easy out and 3 on. But I thought I was so good from last week, so I did a jackass thing in trying to reach the green with a 9 iron. Obviously I couldn’t carry the lip and it landed back in. Idiot. Took my medicine, out with my sand wedge. From 100m, I pulled my gap wedge 4th shot way left. I did hit a reasonable chip to on and one putted for a double bogey. (+2) All the loving feeling for golf is gone in one hole.

Hole 11: Trying to shrug off Hole 10, this is an impressive Hole 11, with a dogleg right to a downhill green. My tee shot was left a bit in the rough and around 120m from the green. I thought since it was downhill, front pin, with water at the back, I could muscle my gap wedge in there. Bad decision again. The rough was too thick to get purchase, and my ball hit the leaves of the coconut tree and ambled around 30m from the green. A mediocre chip found me around puttable distance, which I put on and one putted for bogey. Hey at least, I’ve one-putted my first two holes! (+3)

Hole 12: With an 8-iron I flew this too far right almost to the flowerbed. Took a drop and hit a reasonably good chip to around 8 feet and sank in the par putt. Yes! Another one putt! (+3)

Hole 13: This was a struggle, because I teed off with a 6-iron and had around 130m to go. I was caught between a pitching or a 9-iron and since it was an uphill green, I opted a 9-iron and hooked the hell out of this ball. It landed at an impossible downhill slope near the flowerbed, with no drop, so I had to semi punch-skewer the ball to the green area with my third shot. I hit a bad putt for my 4th and two putted for my double bogey. (+5). The hits keep coming.

Hole 14: Once more, a very bad swing and my shot hooked into the water on the left. It was a good thing it hooked, because I managed to drop it around 150 or so from the green. My third shot with a 9-iron found me right at the front of the green and from there navigated with a putt to put on, and another putt to hole it for bogey. (+6). Another one putt!

Hole 15:Again, my drive was pulled (I am struggling today with drives) and almost entered the water but stayed dry. This was a routine pitching wedge to the green but instead I skulled it and it shot left. Thankfully, it caught the greenside bunker that prevented it from entering the water. From there, one out and two putted for another bogey. (+7)

Hole 16: This should be a straightforward par 5, but as I expected to hook again, I aimed it too far right and it caught the tree. I used my 9 iron to lay up to about 100m and hit a mediocre gap wedge to the center of the large green. Unfortunately I three putted, with my third putt missing from 4 feet. Sucks. Bad bogey. (+8)

Hole 17: This is a good par 3, front pin and easy. Or so I thought. I was going in with a gap wedge and still conjured to miss the green left with a pull. From there, I hit an awful putt that didn’t even reach into the green. From the fringe, a two putt left me with another bogy (+9)

Hole 18: Already sort of fuming at my game, we reached the last hole this 9, the difficult par 5 uphill. I always struggle here, but this time, a perfect drive left me with the thought of going for it in 2. Wisdom overcame me — for once, and I just layed up to about 100m, and then with a gap wedge, took my third to the green and routine two putted to end this nine with par. (+9)

As I crossed over, I have reasonable feeling with putter after hitting some good distance putts. My driver wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible either – I’ve had a few good whacks with it that really flew. It’s my irons that’s struggling, as I can’t seem to get the proper distance this time around – and also my short game – chips etc around the greens. No surprise there. Last week I was +10 over 18. This week, I am +9 over 9. That’s golf.

Hole 1: I completely whacked the crap out of this hole with my drive as I landed around 130m from the green. This is a long one, with a very steep green uphill. I hit a pretty good 9 iron to be honest, but it just held the straight line too long and didn’t draw enough. It hit the side of the green just a few feet from the back flag and rolled back down into the valley. With my chips resembling a blind hyena, I decided to putt uphill (I am obviously not on the green). The uphill putt is around 50 degrees tilt or so I think, so I hammered it through the green to the other side. Two putted for my bogey. It’s such a waste after that drive. (+10)

Hole 2: This hole I usually take out the driver, but decided to use a 5 wood this time and see if I can navigate it better. Not a good hit, landed in the rough on the left, around 150m away from the green. Since it was front pin and down hill I thought a 9 iron can get me home. I pulled it and it yanked to the left, to a valley similar to Hole 1. Once more, I opted to putt with the same result – I blasted it through the hole. This time, my putt came around 4 feet short and I missed the short putt. First three putt for double bogey. (+12)

Hole 3: Never play a par 3 when pissed. I was pissed and with an 8-iron I duffed my tee shot, leaving me an awkward lie with ball above feet, around 80m from the hole. To balance my duff, I skulled my second shot into the water behind the green. My 4 on putt was fantastically bad and I had to two putt for my triple bogey. (+15)

Hole 4: This time, I whacked a perfect drive to the right on this long par 5. I wanted to see if I can reach the green 230m away with my 5-wood, until I calmed down a bit and saw the stupidity of such an endeavour. Instead, I layed up behind the water, and put it on with my 3rd shot gap wedge. The downhill first putt left me around 5 feet to save par, which I did. (+15)

Hole 5: Traditionally a tough hole wit water on the right. I hooked my ball left, leaving me a very difficult lie. I could only punch out and left with around 40m to the green. Instead of pitching, I opted a bump and run (from 40m). The only place I could hit this was at the slope fronting the green and coax it onto the green with red pin. Which I did. I probably hit the best bump and run chip of my life. I still had to navigate 5 feet of green for a par save, which miraculously I managed to. (+15). Things are looking up!

Hole 6: And just as it looks up, it comes crashing down again. This is a par 5 that I usually can score. However, this time, I hit a drive so straight and long, it ran out of fairway and bounded to the slope on the right, which was OB land. I reloaded, and hit almost the same shot. God darn it! When I went to look for the ball, I found both my balls, near each other. However. One was OB. The other one was in the drain, which according to the caddy was a free drop.

Now, the last time out in Trops, we had a contentious drop. Here, this was the problem. I used Maxfli balls to tee off. The whole day I’ve been using Maxfli with the number 4 (because I want play 4 strokes on every hole). My backup ball usually is Maxfli 3. Now unfortunately, for this hole, I did not take the time to identify my second ball which I reloaded. Because the OB ball was number 3, and the ball in the drain was Number 4. The caddy said, your first ball is the one in the drain. The second provision ball was in OB.

I asked, How do you know? Because I did not identify my ball before I hit the provision. (I didn’t think I would lose it the same spot as ball 1 but it’s a stupid excuse. We must ALWAYS ID our provision ball!). He said, based on ball flight, and the fact I am always using ball 4 for all my other holes. My buggy partner came up to me and said, he can vouch I tee off with number 4 as he saw my ball a few holes and saw the number, from the putts etc. But again, I did not identify my tee ball OR my provision ball. And both are almost identical except for the number.

The question I asked myself: Caddy was sure, partner was sure, but was I sure? I was 95% sure that my first ball was in the drain and not in OB based on ball flight and playing habit throughout the day. But was 95% sure the same as 100%? This is the same story where this week, Sung Kang, a PGA golfer was accused of cheating with an incorrect drop, where he said he was 95% sure he was correct.

95% ain’t 100%. And in golf, you need to be 100%. Especially if we are playing for money, which we were, as usual.

So I told them, ah sh*t, I will just take the OB ball because that’s 5% and I can at least sleep at night. So I dropped the OB ball in the rough and whacked what must be my best 5 wood for a long time, which sailed almost onto the green. Unfortunately, from that prime position to at least save double, I managed to duff my chip into the bunker. Six out to the green and two putted for an ugly (but God honest) 8. (+18)

Hole 7: After the long hold up, I approached the par 4 seven, which had trouble left. As my swing is so retarded, I decided to hook it into OB! So previous hole was a push right into OB, now, a hook left into OB. WTF!!! Reteed again, wallop it perfect, a 9-iron second shot landed in the rough near the green. 5-on with a remarkably mediocre chip, and two putted for my second triple bogey in a row. (+21)

Hole 8: Par 3 downhill 110m. This looks exactly like hole 17. And my shot also ended up the same place as hole 17. I hit a good shot, but it bounced on the green, and slipped down the valley on the left. Again left with the familiar uphill putt up the valley, I finally executed ONE correctly. It left me around 4 feet to par, which I did. With a fist pump! (+21)

Hole 9: Final hole, I pulled my drive a bit to the left rough but was reasonably ok. My gap wedge found the green, but unfortunately on the top shelf, where the putt was so devastatingly quick, I only touched the ball and it rolled 6 feet past the hole. My return putt wasn’t high enough and ended the day with a bogey 3 putt. (+22)

Honestly, I didn’t feel my game was way off. It was a touch off, but it was all that was needed in Tropicana. Trops biggest defence are the greens. Most of the greens are tabletop, where a slight miss will send you down some Valley of Doom where your chip needs to be on (not like mine, which is perpetually OFF). Whereas Mines, when you miss the greens you can still putt on and get it close, it’s nearly impossible to do the same in Tropicana when you are faced with an uphill putt to a green, with a slope at 60% angle. My putting is still feeling good, and aside from a few bad decisions, I feel this 94 could have got down to 88 or something. On the OB drop hole – I lost about 2 strokes there for playing my OB ball. Well, at least I can say I play an honest 94, much better than a contentious 88.

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