Saturday, June 20, 2009

Golf Club Praha, assessment

so Kjvetaak said to me "they want to know what you think of the club".

This I say, objectively --

totally unpersuaded by the booty they have graciously bestowed on me despite the fact that I was obviously over-handicapped . . . but then that could just be my ego . . . it would be very pleasant to believe that I deserved first place in the tournament (for the 3rd flight), with all the benefits that accrue to that position of honor, but I would like, LOVE, to compete at a higher level and contend successfully, if you see what I mean --

I love this course, not the least for how quirky and unfair it is in places: the trees in the fairways of #2 & #6; the top ledge on the right of the green of #3; the hump in the fairway on #4 that keeps me from hitting more than a 7wood IF I can find the fairway; the blind tee shots on #7 and #9; the brutal bounces from shocking elevation changes side-to-side on #5 and #8; and the awful, grainy, slow greens . . . I mean, I accept it as a failure on my part, the inability to adjust to the greens, but most courses that use slow, grainy greens as a defense are flattish, undistinguished courses with little rough, where this course not only has amazing elevation changes, but also ankle deep rough, narrow fairways (at critical distances), dense copses of trees, and a prevailing wind that makes staying in the fairway a major challenge.

I tried twice to get a new putter, a heavier putter to help me with the greens, but I've had no luck, so far. . .

GCP is a quirky layout, with dangerous intersections between holes, awkward routings, inconvenient retracements, not to mention the road crossing several fairways, but within the confines of each hole, the shot values are of the highest quality. The par 3s are all interesting and challenging, even tho' of all mid-iron length. The par 5s are true 3shot holes, by virtue of being so long and so uphill. The 4 par4s are varied, with unique challenges each, without being over-long. I wish the greens could be faster, but they would have to be re-contoured less dynamic, if you see what I mean . . .

The Club was built in 1926, and it has that "bursting at the seams" look of such an old course, but I don't know what I would change, really: more than any other club I've played, you HAVE to keep it in the short grass, or pay a half-stroke penalty; if you go off in the trees, that's a full stroke -- ANOTHER full stroke. Missing the green requires a superior short game to recover -- which I don't have now due to rustiness, but, even in-practice would test me fully, because of the gruelling, grainy, slow greens.

Today, while I was warming up, just putting, I suddenly stroked a few putts properly, I could tell, by the way they rolled . . . I tho't the feeling might stay with me, but it came and went, several times . . .if one could roll-the-rock that way every time, it would help, but the lack of it makes for 3putts, which puts stress on the short-game, which puts stress on the iron game, which puts stress on the tee-game, if you see what I mean . . . I feel my game has imploded from the green out.

On the back9, I tho't I'd gotten it together: I parred #3with a good up-and-down, but bogeyed #4, missing a 4ft. par putt; double-bogeyed #5 out of the sand; parred #6 after leaving my birdie putt 2 ft short; bogeyed #7, taking 4 to get down from 70 yds; double-bogeyd #8, taking 4 to get down from 15 ft.; triple-bogeyed #9 after leaving one in the trap, then missing a 3 ft for double-bogey.

my playing partners frequently said "dobry" for "Good shot", but they also said pekna (pee-yekna) for "Good One". . . not just for me, for everybody . . . this is a course you can hit a ton of good shots on and wind up still making double bogey. That's one definition of a great course.

prvni tournaj, prvni misto

My first tournament in the Czech Republic: I intended to confound the Czech Bureacracy that had consigned me to the depths of Dufferdom with a 54 handicap by shooting a 90 in the tournament, thus netting a 36 for 18 holes . . . despite my lingering premonition that this might lead to unpleasantness -- I don't know what the penalty for sandbagging in CZ is, but I bet it's pretty severe! . . .8^D . . .
It didn't work out that way . . . I shot 54-49=103, so net 49, which isn't good enough for me to reckon I showed the Czech Golf Federation anything they didn't expect . . . 8^D . . . but I got 64 stableford points in the tournament which raised a few eyebrows in the clubhouse, and in the process of announcing my victory in the 3rd flight, they also announced my new handicap will be 31, which will move me into the B flight, which may have poured oil on any troubled waters. It was mostly the greens -- I don't think I had more'n two mis-hits -- they're just so-o-o-o-o-o slow they confound my attempts to adjust.
On #2 the first time around, I missed a 14 footer for birdie, then a 18incher for par; on #3 the first time around I scuffed my birdie putt trying to hammer it up onto the back ledge; on #4 the first time around I 3 putted from 60 feet after hitting past the hole 9 ft (I don't know why, but that green isn't is slow uphill as the others); on #8 the second time around I hit such a good shot the group waiting and watching on #9 tee applauded, but then I took 4 to get down from 15 ft away. Oh, I could go on-and-on, but I won't.
As they say, the conditions are the same for everyone (usually, tho' this year at the USOpen seems different . . . 8^D . . .) , so maybe the scores were high all around. Anyway, the 1st prize is very bounteous. . . an umbrella, a shirt, tees & ballmark tools, and a bohemian crystal trophy . . . when I tried to trade my umbrella for a Club Praha Golf Cap, the tournament director just gave me one, then gave me a second "in case I change my shirt colour" . . . 8^D . . .
dikuji moc, Club Praha,
miluji te!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

One Under Par

From a recent crossword . . .

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

golf risk intolerance

Settling for Par: Pros More Likely to Play It Safe

When PGA Tour golfers from Tiger Woods down to the greenest rookie draw back their putters this week at the United States Open, their scorecards will be sabotaged by a force as human as it is irrational: risk intolerance.

Even the world’s best pros are so consumed with avoiding bogeys that they make putts for birdie discernibly less often than identical-length putts for par, according to a coming paper by two professors at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. After analyzing laser-precise data on more than 1.6 million Tour putts, they estimated that this preference for avoiding a negative (bogey) more than gaining an equal positive (birdie) — known in economics as loss aversion — costs the average pro about one stroke per 72-hole tournament, and the top 20 golfers about $1.2 million in prize money a year.

I don’t know why this doesn’t apply also to layups vs GoForTheGreen . . . maybe it does, but the Tour sells the sizzle, plus it may freak the newbies on tour and keep them from competing well?


Monday, June 15, 2009

Golf Club Praha

My Golf Partner, Kvjetaak (an as yet unexplained schoolboy nickname), says GCP is the hardest golf field in Prague. There’s not much competition within Prague, no 18 hole Fields within Prague, but I gotta admit, after 3 rounds, this is one Sumbitch: hilly, no make that Mountainous as all getout, deep rough, steep, but excruciatingly slow greens, and a bunch of trees that come into play, not only out of the fairway, but within . . . you’ll see. . . so my confidence that I will shoot a net 30-something in my first tournament with my 54 handicap is shrinking somewhat, but we shall see . . .it does help a lot if you stay in the short grass (I mean especially here with the deep rough), but I’m struggling with 3putts on the slow greens, too, even when I overcome the other obstacles.

Kind of a squirrelly layout – no getting around that . . . this is an old course that’s been enlarged for the new equipment, so like all courses like that the holes are definitely bumping shoulders, if you see how I mean . . . plus the entrance driveway cuts thru the course, across #2, #4, & #9, adding a special piquancy to arriving and leaving the club . . . 8^) . . . but the lay of the land, over this mountain top is so great, that in the end, I just have to overlook these oddities.

This is the par 4, 375m #1, about half-way down the fairway . . . I had camera problems so I didn’t get a t-shot, but that elevated green just winks at you from the elevated tee. I’m thinking easy par, drive & pitch, but I haven’t staid out of the rough yet, and I’ve come up short every time, then the ball just bounds down the slope in front of the green. Add in the requisite 3putt on the slow green and you have a double-bogey-6 start almost every time. Note how the fairway slopes right to left, and a drive on the left side of the fairway will definitely roll off into the deep rough and probably behind a tree, too. The extra added attraction for my 3 rounds has been that a 2 or 3 club wind has been blowing left-to-right, but you can’t feel it on the tee, so twice I’ve wound up on the right, either in the trees and deep rough, or just the deep rough, trying to slash a wedge onto the green (and failing).

These fairways are lush too, not much roll, except sideways, down the hill . . .8^/ . . .

Here is Kvetak teeing up on the par 4 309m #2. This is from the right side of the tee, so it makes the fairway look a little more open than it feels . . . the wind has been coming right to left (that is the 1st fairway on the right), and you can feel every breath of it on this exposed tee. A lot of duffers overcompensate for the cross-wind and actually exaggerate their slice by hitting too directly into it, tho the balls typically don’t make the 1st fairway, but instead settle down in the deep rough or trees.

And of course, there is a tree in the fairway on this hole, a very large tree. So, even tho’ it’s only 309m, it IS against the wind, and it IS uphill in the landing area. I’ve been trying like heck to wind up left of that tree, with a clear look at the green, but every time, I’ve been in the rough on the right or trying to hit a trick shot around the tree.

The last round I was just left of the tree, and hit a plu-perfect 7 iron (adjusting for the wind and elevation change) so close to the branches of that tree they turned brown from the scorchin’ – and STILL came up short on the elevated green. . . I don’t remember exactly, but I think its only 110m from where I was, and I just can’t see hitting a 6iron with any confidence at all from there, but I Came Up Short . . . the pin always seems to be in the back on a shelf that my short game hasn’t navigated well either – and with the slow, grainy greens, when the ball slows it turns sharply, even more sharply because of the undulations in the greens, here.

This view is from the deck of the club house restaurant .That’s #1 to the left and #9 to the right. There’s a huge bunker guarding the front right of the green there you can’t see. This hole is a terrible conundrum to me right now. I might’ve hit 4 good tee & fairway shots on 1 & 2 and still come away 3 over.

So, On to the par 3, 140m #3: a breather, one would expect, but one would be wrong. The dense woods on the left and the trees on the right are just psychological barriers, not real obstacles, but they hide the fact that you’re hitting straight into the wind here. . . .when I do the algebra, I come up with 8iron, but I’m going to hit 7iron next time, I’m tired of coming up short . . . of course, it’s is Death over the green.

Another one of the disagreeable layout issues with this course is the driving range there on the right . . . you have to walk thru the back of it to get to the #3 tee, after crossing in front of the #1 tee . . . very disconcerting to me. There’s also a chipping & putting practice area left of the green, out of sight there, so it is OB all around this green. I’ve been in the trap on the right, I’ve been short, and I’ve been on the front of the green. None of those are any picnic.

I just want this picture to show the back right corner of the green, where the flag was. That shelf is no bigger than 10 sq meters, and it’s elevated over the front of the green by at least a meter – I mean that is one STEEP face there. That flag position borders on the unfair. If you land up there it will bounce over and off; if you land short, that slope will reject it, and Just Try to get your up-and-down out of those bunkers up onto that shelf. A perfect flop shot is all that will do. Last weekend the flag was left of where you see it, on the lower left shoulder, and I wound up on the front right. I just hammered my birdie putt up the corner of that top tier, and let it coast down towards the hole, then made the 8 foot par putt with a 360 flush . So I’ll hit a 7iron when the pin is back from now on, and if they put the pin in the front, I’ll be thinking birdie, provided I can get a firm roll on the rock.

Well, that brings us to the #1 handicap hole, a par 5, 542m double dogleg hole that is severely up hill in the middle leg. I tho’t with the tailwind I could jack it up onto that 2nd leg of the fairway, over the deep-rough-covered slope, but no-can-do . . . too far . . . so I need to lay back a bit, and just keep it in the fairway. I don’t have a photo yet, but the leave on that 1st shot is something else . . . that’s the 1st green on the right, just over the little conifers, intruding into the fairway, with a big nasty hump that has caught my fairway wood shots twice and knocked them down . . . so you need to hit around that hump and still keep it in play , which so far has proved very difficult for moi . . . There are some roman cypress trees at the 2nd dogleg that look like good targets, but they’re really ball magnets . . . when I looked in them for my ball I found two others instead. The green is very well protected with mounds, trees, and bunkers all around, and it seems tiny, so I feel like I need to hit a fairway wood, but I can’t quite get over that hump, but if I lay back with an iron sure to get over the hump, that leaves too much yardage for the 3rd shot . . . what a perplexity. . . the third shot is likely downhill, possibly even off a downhill lie, which doesn’t make it any easier, does it? Just a brutal hole, with no obvious solution, to me, so far . . .

The par 3 149m # 5 is another trial. I guess it’s actually uphill and down wind. If you come up short at all, your ball will bound straight left off the slope of the green . . .the rough is sort of terraced there, and bunkered to keep the ball in play, but up-and-down from anywhere left is very unlikely . . . I’ve been trying to land on the far right of the green and let that contour work for me instead of against me, with the result that I’ve flared right into the trees or just deep rough. This is one green that I feel needs to be rolled out a little bit, because the ball just does not roll true at all . . . and you need that when you have those 12 footers for par, if you know what I mean . . . 8^D . . .

Here is our friend Petr teeing up on the par 4 316m #6. . . note that that is #4 on the right, not #5 . . .which another one of the awkward layout issues with this course, but also note #7 on the left, which is built over the very crest of that hill – more about that later. This is a relatively straightforward hole, tho’ it is ALL uphill and ALL into the wind . . . any sort of mis-hit or deviant spin on the ball means big trouble with trees and rough. As it turns out, I have hit nothing but rising quails on this hole, perfect situationally, which I have explained to my playing partners as “west-texas-red-ass” after bogeying #5 . . . but there is – again – a tree in the fairway here.

All three rounds I have had to contend with that tree . . . I can’t drive past it, from the slope and the wind, and I can’t drive away from it, for the rough and the sidehill slope . . . so apparently I just have to deal with it. On the first round, where I took this photo, I hit the perfect 8iron knockdown fade around the tree and around the bunker to 15 ft below the pin . . . I left the birdie putt 2 ft short, but that was my first par here. But I was sorta demoralized by the brutal unrelenting golf here . . . I mean, I hit 3 perfect shots and only wound up with a tap-in par . . . I don’t think I can do better.

That first day, while we were approaching the #6 green, all-a-sudden we saw a handcart slowly rolling back down the hill from the 7th tee toward a bunker in front of the green. This young woman came chasing it, out of the trees by the 7th tee, knees and elbows pumping athletically. She really had to make an heroic effort to capture her bag . . . I confess I was doubled over with laughter at the sight and the tho’t of a golf course so steep that the bags were rolling away like the baby carriage in the Potemkin movie. What a hoot. What a golf course.

I wasn’t so amused when I actually got to the 7th tee. This is the view. More than a blind tee-shot. There is no feel for the fairway, because you cannot see the fairway only rough. There is this one post to steer by, bearing in mind that the wind is quartering left to right, with you on this shot. Twice of the 3 times I have executed perfectly the high fade shot here and wound up in the middle of the fairway . . . the other time I wound up in the trees on the right (in the deep rough under the trees, need I add? – a 2 shot penalty, I figger). My playing partners have largely wound up even right of that, even further down the slope, almost to the 8th green . . .a 3 shot penalty, normally . . . 8^0 . . .

This is my ball on the first round. My last round I was even further downhill, almost to those traps . . . but here is the thing . . . from this steeply downhill lie, it is very difficult to get the ball to stop on the green, even with a sandwedge . . .I had a 3putt bogey the first time, and a 10foot par-save the last time, but I still don’t know what to do . . . I watched a very good woman golfer behind us play 4 balls to that green, practicing, I think . . . she was trying to land 10 yds short and roll on, but the bumps there steer the ball off to either of the bunkers guarding the front, and if the ball sticks up on the slope, that 20yd shot is at least as hard as the 90 yd shot.

The par 3 141m #8 runs along the side of the hill next to #7. The club tries to keep that hill side shaved so the ball won’t stick up there, but if it’s soft from rain or the grass is long, the ball will hang up there, for an instant double-bogey. My first time on this hole the wind blew me off the dance floor and the slope caromed me off into the sand . . . that was a double bogey, too. The other two times I’ve managed to land right of the green, up on the slope, so that the ball kicks onto the green, then 3putted . . . I guess I’m gonna have to go up another club when the pin is on the back, to avoid that 50 ft uphill very slow putt. The 9th tee is there just by the bunker, but since everybody aims right, there is little danger. The signs say, let the 8th tee hit before the 9th tee.

The par 5 458m #9 . . . halle-fricking-lujah, another blind tee shot, against the wind onto a 45 degree sidehill. All you can do is aim right of the little round tree and see what happens (uvidime) . . . the first time I hung up in the rough and had a horrible side hill deep rough lie . . . I hit a choke down 3 wood perfectly and wound up still on the right side rough, behind some trees. The other two times, in the fairway, the ball has rolled completely across into the left rough . . . I’d tho’t, from the distance on the card, I might reach this green in two, but it’s all uphill, and the bounce is against you.

You can see that the entire field slopes right to left. That bunker is up between #2 & #9 greens. #9 is tucked behind that forest that intrudes into the fairway on the left, and it is D-E-A-D over there, no shot, as I discovered my first round, so I keep aiming at those trees on the right side of the second dogleg, expecting the slope to bring the ball back for me, but I’ve hit two perfectly straight fairway woods into those trees (and need I mention the deep *##$@@% rough?) . . .

This is not quite the view I had from the left, a little better . . . so I punched a 7iron up into the trap, then came out short, and 3 putted for a 7. The second time I flubbed out of the rough, chunked from the fairway, then took 3 to get up and down for another 7. The last time I hit a perfect 7 iron, but the wind didn’t help me at all, and it went into that same trap. I got out over to the opposite fringe then rattled the pin with my chip for a tap-in bogey . . . maybe I can’t eagle this dang hole, but I sure ought to par it, or even birdie with a little luck.

Just one last bit of humor from my friend Kvjetaak on this hole . . . he grabbed the wrong club for a shot from right there on the corner just out of the trees and hit his best shot of the day at the wrong time . . . he’d hit 7 instead of 9, and the ball sailed over the green, over the slope, over the retaining wall, into the verandah restaurant seating . . . I would have run into the woods at that point, but he just dropped another ball and and played out . . . when we went up onto the deck he asked the pretty women sitting there if they’d seen his ball and if he’d frightened them . . . they said no and no. . .

“You’d do anything to meet a pretty girl, wouldn’t you”, I teased him . . .

“But of course,” he said, “but it makes golf a very expensive pastime!” . . . 8^D . . .

So a very good, if quirky course. Brutal golf, and walking 18 holes here is a real stamina test . . . one won’t be good for anything after that . . . so we will usually only play 9 at GCP. . .

In The Rough

Mr Science:

The duffer takes his 3-wood out of the bag, and sets it down behind the ball, in deep rough. He lifts it, waggles, sets it down again a little harder. And again and again. Steps on the grass behind the ball, looks at the green and at the 200-yard marker, and says to his caddy: "What do you think, 3 wood?"

"Not yet, sir".

Pukka Dave:
Did you see the video . . . I tho’t I might have sent it to you from CNN/SI . . . “pretty damning” they said . . .

Bloggable joke . . . 8^D . . .

Mr Science:
No, I didn't see it.

Pukka Dave:
There’s a video link – watch how the ball pops out of the rough when he pushes the grass down behind it . . .
He’s using one hand . . . not grounding the club like he claims . . .

Mr Science:
He clearly is grounding the club, and perhaps even addressing the ball, because of grounding it, though not with the intent to hit it. I don't see the ball moving ("pops out?"), though clearly some of the grass between the ball and the camera has been flattened, allowing the camera to see more of it. The European rules official quoted in this article all but stipulated that his lie was improved, but said that the rule involved intent, not result. Plus, it was a sand wedge, not a 3-wood, so even the extent of any improvement would have been arguable. It's not like he ended up with a clean lie, and got up and down because of it.

I think what he was doing was more like "testing the conditions", which is prohibited in a hazard, but not elsewhere. He surely got a better break from the officials than the LPGA pro (Annika, I think?) who was penalized for moving a loose divot that was a foot in front of her ball in the fairway, thus "improving her line of play".

Besides, Charley blew it on the 71st hole, when he missed the 4-footer.

Pukka Dave (Blogger Gets the Last Word . . . 8^) . . . )
I see very little American golf here…
They show the prior Week’s Sunday broadcast on CNBC-Europe Sunday afternoon – but I don’t get CNBC, yet.

Yeh, it was annika who was penalized, which I still don’t understand.

I go at it the other way . . . which is not to say, the proper way for a ruling . . .

If one was going to press down the grass, one would do it the way he did it, standing back from the ball, with one hand, almost absent-mindedly – I see duffers do it all the time . . . the next step (pristi stanice(!)) is to take your club and gently “turn over” the ball so that it will ride up on top of the grass instead of sit down . . . that’s what’s damning, is that it’s not even a grey area to me: what’s the prior step in the array of “improving your lie” ? I think it must be something like moving some debris that’s not quite loose, or even a divot . . . 8^D . . .

When I say pop-up, I just mean that before he starts you can only see the top of the ball, and when he’s done, you can see all but the very bottom . . . he improved his lie.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Green Card

Playing golf in CZ is not as easy as in the US, where you just show up and flash some green . . . here, you must be accredited by the Czech Golf Federation (CGF) . . . in some ways, it is entirely understandable & desirable . . . . I mean if most of your players are very new to the game, since golf was considered the foppish undertaking of the very wealthy, until very recently . . . as it was in the US many years ago . . . then you really do need some way to orient players to the game and ensure they have at least the minimal skills to get around the links . . .

Of course, here, they call it the Golf Field, or Golf Court, or Golf Park, which are not exactly wrong, but unusual . . . but I have to admit I have come to admire & enjoy this new POV . . .

So it took me a couple of weeks to get organised to getting my accreditation, my Green Card from the CGF, even tho’ my clubs had come over in an air shipment only a few days behind us when we moved – but I was sick, I tell you, I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without gasping, from my lung infection that I feared was H1N1, much less hump around 18 holes, but eventually I felt well enough that cabin fever drove me out to Golf Hostivar for a training session to qualify for a Green Card.

I have no car, so I had to hump my clubs onto the train, then onto a bus . . . this was the first time I took the bus, and heuristically finding the bus while carrying clubs is an adventure itself, but eventually, 15 minutes late, I found my way into the shop and found my trainer, P. (an alias I have assigned him in a Kafkaesque way . . . 8^D . . . ). He helped me buy 50 balls and we went out to the driving range for my training.

So, first, he said, “Do you have some weakness in your game in particular that you are wanting help with?”

I said, “No . . . I just want accreditation for a Green Card, so I can play golf.”

He nodded amiably, and asked “How long have you played golf?”

“About 45 years,” I said . . . “I play to about a 17” . . . and I handed him one of my Kokopelli Golf Stance Blog calling cards, which he examined dubiously before putting away in his pocket.

“Well, warm up a little bit, then take a 7 iron and we will watch you hit a few balls to see how you go.”

If you don’t know, I don’t like a warm-up, I like breakfast instead, but I didn’t think I was gonna get breakfast, so I half-heartedly made a few swings, then tried to hit a few balls . . . what I wanted to communicate to him was that I hadn’t played in 6 weeks, and I have so many moving parts in my swing that I was gonna be very rusty, but the language difficulty inhibited that – the first 3 I hit were over-the-top blades . . . I knew the problem and I just wanted to work it out, but P. jumped right in, apparently in genuine pain:

“You must stand more upright, and you must hold the club with your hands more close together, and you must grip the club more loosely, and you must swing/sweep with the left arm and not hit with the right hand so much . . . and there may have been more, but I know all that, but I got my own way, what I call Dave’s Way, or the Kokopelli Golf Stance, or now, The Pukka Way of the Bohemian Duffer, but it took me a while to get it across to him:

I showed him I knew the grips, the Vardon, the Overlapping, and my own baseball grip, and I explained that my hands hurt any other way but mine,

I showed him I knew the proper stance, but I explained that it hurt my back after a while, unless I crouched in my baseball stance,

I showed him I knew the proper swing, but I explained, as best I could, that my baseball swing was based on my own needs, not theoretical bests . . .

So, perplexed and hurt by my uncoachability, P. signaled me to hit a few more balls. So I hit a pippin, a high 7iron with a tight draw, but P. was unimpressed – I guess he figgered it was an accident. So I hit a couple of high fades – my swing was slowly coming back, I was staying back behind the ball better and my swing was slowing down . . . this seemed to mollify him some, and he said, “let us see you hit a few 5irons”. So I did, with the high fade he seemed to favor . . . I didn’t like it so much, it might have been the wind, but they were drifting over out of the range onto a slope where some sheep were grazing . . . I was afraid I was gonna one. P. Seemed marginally happier, but he repeated his critiques, which I acknowledged with a hand-signal for each, but rejected as kindly as I could. P. was kindly but adamant that my technique was wrong . . . and I can’t argue with that, but that doesn’t change anything.

Now P wanted me to hit a wedge, and pointed to a bucket-net, “try to hit that” he said. Well, sure, I clutched up and bladed my first two attempts. My 3rd try was good but long – I had no idea how far it was and when I asked him he didn’t say, as if he didn’t understand, but he said “not so far”. I tried half-a-PW, but it was still long. P. wanted to coach me some more, but I waved him off, changed clubs and hit half-a-SW . . . it didn’t go in, but it was a near miss . . . I hit 4 or 5 similar and he was satisfied, but he had another point: “when you finish your swing you must hold your pose . . . that is how the teacher can see what you have done . . . and everyone will know from your green card who your trainer is, and so you must hold your pose, so that they will know that you have been properly trained!” Well, I’ve always been from the Arnold Palmer school of slash-&-slosh, and – oddly enough – I’m a little shy to “hold a pose” after a shot -- back in Texas, holding a pose is a good way to invite sardonic comments from your playing partners, but I told him, “Don’t worry, P, I won’t embarrass you.”

He said, “Now hit a chip just there by those 4 balls” pointing to foozles of someone else 15 yds. in front of the tee. I wasn’t sure where he was pointing, but I took a 7iron and chipped it to his obvious pleasure and relief, “Just so!” he said.

P. wanted me to hit a fairway wood, then, and I was all over that – too much so, and my first 5wood went into the fence on the right off my club-toe. He had another litany of critiques, but I just raked another ball over and hit a hard hook. I slowed down then and hit 4 or 5 back onto the hump and the sheep seemed to start to move out of danger, much to my relief. I tho’t I was winning him over, but he said, “now, take a 3 wood and hit it straight, if you can.”

Well . . . I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, and I needed him to get my green card, so definitely needed not to piss him off, but that hurt MY feelings . . . but I just rolled a ball over onto the mat (gee, I hate hitting of those dang mats, they hurt my wrists) and spanked a 3wood with just a whisper of fade on it, close enough to straight that he grunted his acceptance, if not his approval . . . after a couple others, he said, ok let me see your 1wood.

OK. I was warmed up, and I’m not saying my swing is molasses-slow, but I DO give the head of the club time to get around, usually, and I did, and I busted one, high, tiny-draw, and flying about 250m . . . that’s meters for you Americans, just round it off to 275 yds. P. was finally impressed: “Your best club!” he said, as if he could take credit for teaching me that . . . “yeah, that and chipping is my game,” I drawled, but that didn’t register with him. . .

P. had another lesson by then, and needed to go, so, I just finished off my bucket hitting 3 woods, alternating hook & slice . . . I’m not really that good at it, but it sure would be a good skill to have . . .

But that’s not the end of it . . . you have to take a written test on Golf Etiquette and play a few holes with the trainer to show you have some basic course management skills, at least those of a 54 handicap . . .8^D . . . to make a long story short -- as if that were still possible -- P. remained unimpressed by my skills but was willing to pass me along for a CGF Green Card with a 54 Handicap.

So, armed with his Diploma, I ventured over to Erpet Golf Centrum at lunch one day, where the Green Card is a simple cash-transaction, at that point . . . The Erpet sports facility looked really posh, with a swimming pool, yacht club, and tennis courts, in addition to the admin–offices of the CGF, and I got there relatively easy by train, tho’ I had to commute down the red-line from Chodov to the yellow-line at mustek, then out to Erpet – and back. Plus a short walk, where I didn’t know where I was going. At least I didn’t have my clubs with me . . .

That was a couple of weeks ago . . . the CGF puts you into the computer right away, so I’ve played twice already, but my actual Green Card wasn’t ready until this week . . . I’ll had to go back over there and pick it up. I’m be glad to be done with it. For this year, anyway. . . now to just get that handicap back down to 17, or better . . . 8^) . . . meanwhile I have my first tournament at Club Praha this weekend . . . I hope there's no prize money to accept . . . if was to quit fooling around and shoot in the 80s, that 54 handicap would drop me down to the 30s for 18 holes . . . and the Czechs have entirely too much interest in implements of medieval torture for my taste . . . 8^D . . . just remember, every castle has a dungeon, and most every castle has a golf course, now . . . so-o-o-o-o-o . . . I'm just trying to lower my handicap to trim a bunch of duffers by sandbagging!


Kolf, per Club Praha

From the clubhouse of Club Praha . . . a representation of the Dutch Game Kolf, played on ice, with hockey sticks . . . I always wondered: When they holed a putt, did the ball disappear into the canal, or was it a puck?

Kolf is not an antecedent of Golf, IMVHO, I am from the Roman Paganican derivation school myself, following the lead of P.G. Wodehouse – rather Kolf is a dead-branch-relative, like chimpanzees to humans, if you see what I mean . . .

Still, there it is . . .