Sunday, September 20, 2009

Armagnac -- Guinlet

Par 70, 5675M, Slope 131
Never have been a fan of a par3 1st hole . . . while it's true that I usually DO hit a good teeball on #1, a par3 puts a little extra pressure, especially an uphill shot 201M -- I think it slows down play right from the git-go, too, design-wise, if you see what I mean --

I hit a 5wood, popped it up a little bit right. Landed 1m away from those trees, pin high.

Had just enough room to swing a normal pw . . . landed it on the edge of the green, where it rolled right up to the hole. An unexpectedly easy par.

The tilt of this fairway felt even steeper than this picture . . . I might have listed left taking the snapshot, just from vertigo . . .

While a little intimidating, it is not perplexing . . . you gotta hit a high fade at the right side to get the ball to stay up. So . . . I got a double-cross, natch: a low bullet hook that almost trimmed the trees on the right then rolled across the fairway into the trees on the left.

NFG. Here it was obvious what the problem was, but I still clipped a branch and came up short of the green.

I lobbed up over the trap past the back pin position, to the fringe . . . could have been makeable, but I didn't. A bogey.

I'm starting to wonder about this course . . . M from Mont de Marsan had never heard of it, tho' it is only oh, 40 klics away, and there ain't so many golf courses in Armagnac a golf nut can't keep track of 'em.

The condition of the course was clearly sub-standard, but the layout was starting to look interesting. The second hole was lined on both sides by little cottages, called "gites" i think, under construction, as the course is apparently to be the anchor for a resort-type community.

The par3 #3 looks like it should have a sign "abandon all hope, ye who tee up here" . . . 174m, all uphill, totally blind.

I did the algebra, and selected 3iron . . . back 20 years ago, 3iron was my favorite club . . . I called it "the magic 3iron" used it for everything except sand shots, great trouble club . . . now, not so much . . . but if I pick my spots, I still get good results . . . like here . . . hit a bullet that ascended 10 feet off the ground the whole way up the hill, straight at the left side of the green.

Even blind, I knew it was right . . .

I could see by the ball trails in the dew, how my ball caromed off the left hump, rolled around the back hump, and trickled straight down towards the hole, 4 or 5 ft away from the pin.

You can see how someone else putted almost the same line and missed left. My birdie putt is in the heart . . . so this gave me the same number of birdies in Armagnac as I had in the Czech Republic.

One thinks one is past all that.
One would be wrong.
Hitting a 3iron stripe can do that to me . . . make me think I know what I'm doing . . . So I tried to hit a power-draw for some extra roll down the hill on the par5#4 . . . didn't take . . . the ball one-hopped into the treeline, which I didn't think was so bad, but, they had a hard winter here, too, apparently, cuz there were a lot of downed trees and messed up, uneven ground. . . . couldn't find my ball, which I tho't was unfair, so I generously allowed myself a Phoenix-style desert drop, instead of a lost-ball penalty.

Didn't help, really . . . I was still 2 5irons and a wedge away . . . I wonder if I was looking far enough down the slope for my ball? It's 514m, but all downhill . . . 2 putt double bogey.

This, I tho't, is freakin' ridiculous. Uphill par3s are very nice and all, but in moderatin, please!

I didn't calculate right, and came up short, but handy.

My short game reverted to form, too.

7iron chip scooted past the hole, and the comebacker lipped out.

The course looks like mid-winter condition, rather than late summer . . . tees and greens are fine, and -- for the most part -- the grass in the fairway is just brown, still playable . . . but there are large patches of, er, patch growth, too, and places where the gravelly subsoil shows thru.

I guess, on a par 70 course where you have 3 par 3s on a 9, it wouldn't be that unusual to have a stretch of 3-5-3-5 . . . but it feels weird.

Absolutely hammered my drive with a power fade down the left side . . . learnt my lesson with my so called tame hook on #4 . . . the slope took it almost all the way across the fairway to the right side.

This is what I think I want . . . an uphill lie on a par5 2nd shot so I can launch a 3wood at the green.

I guess I could claim I hadda wait too long on the 4some in front of me, by myself. Despite my best intentions and confidence, I still jumped at it and bellied the ball only about half-way.

That left only a 9iron, and I laid that on the green with a smooth swing.

Then an inexplicable 3putt, if that's not too redundant. I could still read the trails in the dew, after the fact . . . I guess that green was much slower than I figgered.

The card says #7 is only 317m downhill, but it looked further, and had some sort of trouble, some bunkers in front,right of the green.

So I played strategic-like, I didn't want to stand around waiting for the 4some, anyway, and hit a 5wood . . . pulled it a little bit, into the rough, but it was easily found and playable.

Except for a wedge-foozlin' fool like me. Incroyable! I guess there was some part of my subconcious rebelling against my club selection.

My second attempt, my 3rd shot, flew straight over the pin.

An easy 2putt bogey, that could have been an easy 2putt par, or even a 1putt birdie, I felt.

Well, except for the vile little pond in front of the tee, this is a beautiful hole . . . the grayness of the day kinda takes the shine offn't, but from the tee, even tho' it's a little bit of a blind shot, it seemed clear to me what to do.

So I hit a nice high tight draw down the tree line on the right -- to heck with lessons learnt, if I'm going to 3putt and foozle wedges, I'm going to pretend I know what I'm doing on the tee, too!

Wound up in the middle of the fairway, looking straight uphill again . . . I had time again to cogitate on this shot, waiting on the 4some. I decided on 5iron, and to keep from brooding on it, I tho't about that tee shot. . . It sure would be nice to be higher up on the hill, but you'd have to challenge those trees . . . and hit a power fade to hold the roll, which I don't know if you would get far enough then. Good hole.

It IS the #1 handicap hole.

When the green cleared, I followed my plan without ado, to minimize the chance for doubts to creep in . . . hit a career 5iron with a tight draw . . . never know when that's going to happen, and off an uphill lie to an uphill green didn't seem likely, but it happened.

I tho't it might go over the green, but it was short. I gave it the ol' west texas 7iron chip right past the hole, then made that 4ft comebacker. Felt pleased as punch.

I had plenty of time on #9 tee to gloat . . . did the math and hit a 7iron 144m, slightly uphill . . .

I saw a puff of white sand when it landed, and had a bad moment when I tho't there might be a hidden bunker up there.

But it was just ground-under-repair . . . I was pin-high, with an uphill putt for birdie, coming off the fringe.

I liked my chances, but it wasn't a smooth roll . . . there were tractor tracks or something there . . . not really treadmarks, but an indentation where the wheels had rolled. Came up short, leaving a one-handed tap-in par. Sigh.

There's another concept known only to the most informed cognoscenti: PPFU . . . a condition that sets in when the confirmed duffer gains the unjustified opinion that he now controls his game, after making a par, or in my case, 2-in-a-row.

On this charming, short par 4 I attempted a smooth swing, instead tried to steer it, which for me means my swing plane flattens and I pull hook the ball . . . sometimes a solid hit, like this one, but hopelessly left, into the small copse of trees.

When I got to my ball it was resting -- as any duffer could predict -- exactly in the root of a tree on the opposite side of the green, just as moss always grows on the north side.

The 4some in front of me, walking to the 11th tee adjacent, all came over to look, with amused concern on their faces . . .
"You were unlucky!" said one, in an English accent.
"Well," I said, "I WAS careless."
They watched me chop it out, left-handed, with a pw turned over, but that didn't go well, because of the roots: it was still in the trees. I hit a 3iron trying to chase the ball up near the green 60m away, but the rough was very plush in this spot, then I flopped the ball over the green into a bunker on the other side, back onto the green and a couple of onehanded putts.

So I was not surprised to see that #11 was the #2 handicap hole, a par4, 433m hole where the tee is set back in that copse of trees, there's OB all down the left (I hate those straight-line OBs!), more trees crowding in on the right side, then all uphill from the landing area.

I've played a lot of par5s easier and shorter than this. In arizona, some of them were the #1 handicap hole, too.

But since I didn't steer it, in fact put a little west texas red-ass on it, that drive was perfect, long, long, long, with a power fade down the left side.

I could tell, by the length of time it took the 4some to clear the green that this was a hard hole, so I took the walk up to my ball very leisurely, made my algebrations thorough & deliberately, selected my club thoughtfully, then jumped and hit the ball before I could think about it. . . it's amazing how far it still was. I ripped a 5wood, thot itmight be long, a little left of the green. Worried about the OB behind the green, but I was short and handy.

I'm not making many claims of golf expertise, but I gotta tell you not many duffers could hit two shots that good on the same hole, and I still missed that green short and left. Whew!

I chipped with a 7iron past the pin 8ft. and missed the comebacker. A green on a hole like that ought to be bowl shaped so that everything funnels down to the hole, if you inow what I mean . . . 8^D . . . instead of full of ridges and mini-mounds.

As I walked to the next tee, the groundskeeper stoped on his mower to chat, his English was very limited, but he tried . . . "the grass is very . . . very . . . " he groped for words not just because of his English, but also because of his apparent frustration with the conditions . . . "difficile . . . "

I clapped him on the shoulder with as much comraderie and compassion as I could convey non-verbally and said, "And it all rests on these shoulders!"

He understood that and smiled ruefully. I waved au revoir, and he went on to mow.

I might say more about #12 if I had played better. It's attractively downhill, claustrophobically teed, and modestly greened. For reasons I don't understand I topped my tee shot. Lobbed onto the green 12 ft past the pin. Missed the par. Phooey.

The tee to #13 feels just like this. All I could do was keep my head down and swing smooth. Swang so smooth I put a big fade on it(didn't finish, hung back in my congenital reverse pivot) out into the sparse tree line along the fairway.

That fairways is 100% uphill, way uphill . . . the algebration were pretty complex, in addition to everything usual, I had to add in slicing around and under a tree.

Couldn't do it. Just a foozle . . . or an extremely conservative safety, if you wanted to stay positive, which is not my forte.

In my irritation I bladed a wedge over the green into an area sort of torn up for more construction of more gites. I gave myself a drop from there and desultorily got up-up-and-down.

That is one hard green. . . sloping away from the fairway, tho' elevated 10 or 15 meters from the landing area.

Now my mental set was bad, not focussed.

I hit a weak short slice into the right rough.

topped a 7wood down the right edge of the fairway.

skulled a 5iron further down towards the green.

bladed a pw over the green.

chunked a pitch back.

up-up-and-down, again.

But I was trying to right my ship, regain control of my swing, so I steer-jobbed an ungly pull hook into trouble on the left.

I hadda hit a mad ball as a provisional, and absolutely gravitated it like I hadn't hit a ball since #11.

But I found my first one, still in bounds, in deep rough, on a slope down to more gites-under-construction . . . I over-guarded against the hook-lie and wound up in a greenside bunker.

As I walked up to the green, I picked up my provisional. Dang, this game could be easy, if I could let it.

I popped the ball up out of the dep bunker onto the edge of the green, leaving a makeable par putt, 10 or 12 ft, but I didn't. so Bogey.

But I popped up my drive on the next hole, just confirming I had no game left.

Tho't I might float a 7wood the rest of the way downhill to the green, but it must have been too much club, since I didn't hit it well -- my sub-conscious rebelled.

Had a half-wedge left by my calculation, and hit it solid, which was a relief, then disbelief as I saw it fly the green . . . I mean it was downhill, but my calcs couldn't have been that wrong!

Pitched back up 4ft away, and made the bogey-grinder.


you can see my plaing companion here. He joined me on the par5 #14. He spoke no English. He motioned for me to hit first, graciously, but he had the honor the rest of the way. Played very well . . . not long, average length, but totally solid technique . . . I think he was one-over for the last 5 holes . . . .

The par4#17 runs parallel to the par4 #16, but uphill instead of down, and 90m shorter by virtue of not crossing the road.

I'm always surprised by how much distance an uphill tee-shot takes off . . . it could be I'm not seeing the slope for what it is . . . but this was no exception . . . I pushed a solid shot right into the rough, but there was no trouble over there.

I reckoned a full 9iron by subtracting my solid drive from the hole length and by algebrating the distance to the pin from my ball, but as long as the downhill shot had been, this one was short. I'm sure my playing partner expected nothing else, but I was pretty frosted.

I gotta get some camera instruction on how to not de-emphasize the slope on a downhill photo . . . it's much steeper than it looks here.

So, on in 3, 2 putt, bogey.

The finishing hole looks really cool from the tee, just full of the rollercoaster action one loves in a golf course . . . 8^) . . .

My partner just tried to cut the corner and hit a tree. I figgered he was in jail, but he seemed sanguine about it. I knew I was longer than him. So I took the same line and staid behind the ball, but I didn't get a solid hit, didn't feel like, and pushed it right.

That was ok, then, down the middle of the fairway, then taking the slope on the roll around the dogleg towards the green. Good miss.

But it left me still with a 6iron to the green. My favorite club, but I hadn't hit a full iron solid on the back 9, but I gave it the old college try. Felt fat, but I had aimed to the right side of the green, counting on more slope to the left, which was correct. I was on the green but 50ft away. 3 putted . . . I think the 4 5s I finished with were the 4 easiest tapin bogeys I've ever had . . . just great . . . like a pitcher of warm spit.


Guinlet is not a bad layout, but the condition was a little worse than you could overlook. So a 3 on the Kokopelli standard . . . a little more wide-open than Mont de Marsan, but there are places where the trees do intrude into play, especially off the tee.

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