Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Armagnac - Chateau de Pallane

6341 M, Par 72, Slope 138 (estimated)


After le petite de jeuneur, I dashed downhill to the 1st tee . . . I didn't want to get caught behind a bunch of 4somes, and we wanted to spend the afternoon touring wineries & distilleries.

So I took one look at the un-prepossive 1st hole, and just lashed my drive out any-old-where, into the right rough. It was wet, but not too long, no worries.

I realized here that I didn't know how far it was to the green . . . there was a cyan & puce striped pole, but I had not asked . . . amazing when you think how often I play at strange courses . . .

So I guessed 8iron and that was close enough . . . just a little short . . . I chipped up with a 7iron, missing entirely the subtle steepness of the flat-looking green, so that I wound up 8 ft away, tho' my speed had been good.

Missed the par. Saw people on the 1st tee. Scuttled off to keep moving without grieving.


Rather ordinary looking par 3, but 180m, so I hit a choke-down 7wood into the wind, pulled a little left, but pin-high . . . wary this time of the green, I was able to get up and down for a par.


There's water left of the landing area there, and OB on the right . . . didn't worry me too much, I tho't, but I hit a weak drive, over on the left side of the fairway.

So I pulled out my 3wood, to make up some distance, and hit it solid, but thin and low . . . it hit a peculiar little mound there in the middle of the fairway, so inconsequential it doesn't show up in the picture, but large enough that my low line drive caught the top and kicked left into the edge of the water. Once again, a flat hole has made me stupid and feel stupid.

This shot of the chateau is from near the hump in the fairway, looking up over the 1st tee . . . the entrance to the grounds from the roadruns into the 3rd fairway, then runs down along the right side to the green, then turns back to the chateau, past the 1st tee, and up the hill.

Awe-fully impressive, even if I was a little put out by the flat ordinary golf holes.

I fished my ball out for a drop, just pulled a 5iron out to make a solid shot, for sure, and blocked it pin high right, not quite into the woods, but in the deep rough.

I was able to flop a shot from there over the bunker, 12 ft away. quite pleased, and made the bogey putt.

#4 was more of the same, and this is my weakness -- inattentivity on boring golf courses . . . the good golfer licks his chops and proceeds to score, I wind up taking double-bogeys just from failing to pay attention. Like here: pull left almost to the 5th tee. chunk 2 wedges, 2 putts.


Another flat par 5, 566m long tho', so I just ripped a drive away from the OB on the right, into the rough on the left . . . then foozled another 3wood (uh-oh), hit a 4 iron just short of the green, didn't get up and down.

Almost a good hole. The tee is set interestingly up on the side of the hill, maybe 10m above the fairway, and it's only 376m, so, I figgered Drive & a Pitch. . . hit my drive solid but still had a full 6iron to the green.

In irritation, I pulled my approach left into a biozone next to the water. Took a drop out of that and semi-bladed my approach over across the green.

Naturally, that chip almost went in, but another bogey. .  .I couldn't even claim to have been bored anymore, and still fould up the hole . . . grrr.

Now THIS is an interesting hole, even if it is still flat . . . it's a puzzle, How much to bite off? Not enough, and you could wind up with an unplayable lie up on the hill, or even in the woods; too much, wet.

I just aimed at the trees as a target, and made dang sure I didn't slice.

That's not quite right, but you wouldn't know that as a first timer . . . I could have bitten off more, or faded it slightly (HAH! Like I know when I will) -- I wound up in the rough, with a sidehill/downhill lie.

I tho't maybe this would still be a good place for my 5wood -- not going for the green, just trying to make sure I got enough to get over the water intruding into the fairway that curls around right . . . but foozled it too.

I just hit it again, and wound up right of the green.

Very successfully lobbed a pitch over the trap to 15ft, but 2putted for bogey.


Somewhat un-confident by now, I chose Aggression and hit the holy bejabbers out of my tee shot, at least 300m, up-hill and into the wind . . . I can't figger it out, I just live with it . . .

I hit a full wedge the remaining 88m, without doing too much algebra, and wound up on the front fringe.

Chip-putted with a 7iron 2 about 4inches from the cup for a tapin par.

Pretty pleased, this is one dang hard, uphill sob.


the par4 391m hole is right next to #18, and very similar looking.

I hit a tight draw over the trees on the right, and could see my ball bounding over the bunkers. It is downhill, and cross-wind right to left, but it still wasn't a big a hit as on #8.

I found my ball, in the fairway, but still only meters from the bunker, not miles, if you see what I mean. I tho't I should have a half-wedge, but I had a full9 to the green.

Hit my approach solid, pin-high, into the bunker right of the green (see illustration!)

Had a restricted backswing on my first shot and could get out . . . hit the 2nd too hard, to the other side of the green.

2putted for double bogey.

I love good golf holes that just make you feel like you can do better next time you play it. If it is a good golf hole, you may well do, but if it's a great golf course, you may find something else will go wrong, too.

If you know what I mean . . .


#10 is a downhill par 3, like I havent seen since AZ . . .either Rancho Manana or Quintero,
Those trees at the sides seem to crowd the flight path in a unique way, tho, and the green curls around a sumpy little pond, so there's lot to consider.

The card says 160, but I know it was further from the tee I used . . . I hit 5iron, solid and high. I heard my ball tick the leaves of the small tree left of the green, but I couldn't see.

When I got down there, my ball was pin high, in muddy ground 1 percent less humid than casual water. . . I kinda chunked it out of there up near the hole . . . never had a chance, but it was inside the leather . . . I didn't putt it, just picked it up with the back of my putter . . .

I noticed then that the French men from breakfast were on the tee of the other par 3, #16, I would discover, watching me from above. I think -- I inferred they were impressed with my tee shot and not surprised that I picked up the ball, rather than putting out . . . They watched me as I circled around their tee to the next hole . . . I didn't know why, but when I looked confused about where to go, they were ready with gesticular directions, waving their arms in large s-motions that indicated I had quite a hike in front of me to go . . . it was close to 300 meters by the time I looped around that tee and a water hazard.

As I wended my way around I saw the women on the 15th green . . . . they waved to me as I trudged past . . . I hope they and the men were watching that tee shot . . . I don't know when I've hit one stronger. . . 

it cut the corner of the slight dogleg and bounced like a gazelle down the middle of the fairway . . . card says 324m . . . it seemed further than 350yds . . . but at any rate, I only had a half wedge left to the green . . . I figgered on a hard landing and a lot of roll but what I got was a plugged ball on the front fringe of the green . . . another birdie chance down the drain . . . .

I didn't chip well, past the cup, 2putted for bogey.


this par 4, uphill, dogleg right, 384m, is one-of-those holes where you know second time would be better than the first time . . . maybe not everytime, but fer shure, the 2nd time . . . flushed with confidence on the tee, I aimed at the inside corner and drew it back into the middle of the fairway . . . a good shot, but not strategic, I discovered . . . I shudda aimed up over the top of the hill, but you can't know that the first time -- that's what I mean.

so as it was I had 150 m uphill . . . way uphill and against the wind, a stiff wind, when it would have been possible, with the same drive aimed more right to cut the dogleg, to have rolled down the shaved rough on the hill down into wedge distance . . . but I felt in my prime here, so I just hit a career 5iron right at the flag . . . I tho't it might be over the green, but it actually came up short . . . similar to the similar hole at Guinlet . . . those were both career shots, both came up short. . .

since my last chip on a flat green had been long, nothng would do but what I would leave this one short and two putt again . . . that was kinduva molar grinder . . .


Now, this next par 4 looks from the other holes like its gonna just slide right off the mountain, its so precariously laid out . . . it feels like that from the tee, too.

I never did get comfortable over that shot, even tho' it's really steeply downhill, and mostly with the wind, I just couldn't figger where to aim to keep it in play . . . I was afraid of going thru the fairway into the woods, and afraid of landing too far left and just bouncing sideways out into the deep rough.

I finally managed a weak slice to hold it up against the slope, and got down the hill mostly, but still 170m from the hole.

So I had a downhill lie, out of the right rough, over a creek.

I shudda just laid up, but those consecutive bogeys had made me antsy, and the poor tee-shot made me aggro, so I went for it anyway, muscled up on my 5iron (having just hit a career shot) and tomahawked the sob into the creek.

So, I dropped a ball over in the brown rough on the left (well, theright in this picture) and chopped a pitch over onto the green.

I tho't maybe I deserved a oneputt bogey out of the deal, but that's not what I got.

This par 4 is a lot more downhill than it looks in this photo, but the uphill approach makes it look flatter. I had a mower out there in front of me that bothered me a little bit too.

I fidgeted a while waiting for him to get out of my way, but he just kept going back, so I finally hit anyway, but instead of challenging the rightside, which you need to do here, I wound up on the left rough.

It's only 359m, and downhill, so I only had 100m left to the pin, but it was 60 ft staright uphill, with a trap guarding the green in my way.

This is a shot I'd like to stand there with a bucket of balls to practice until I got over the psychological hazard there . . .it shouldn't be that hard with a 9iron in your hands, but it is for me . . .

came up short into the bunker, which caused all sorts of internal recriminations about my drive and my short iron play . . .

so, in such a mindset, it is no wonder that it took two to get out and two more to get down


in the best spirit of aft-gang-agley,
I made stern resolutions to play better -- that always helps, don't you find? I first of all realized on this tee that I was going to have to take the driver out of my hand.

I was awfully proud that I still had the wits to do that, and I planned with my 3wood to aim at the middle of the fairway and fade or even slice it around the hill on the right down by the water.

But I steer-jobbed that stupid 3wood into the left rough instead, typical when I try to play carefully.

I'd hit it solid and the lie wasn't bad so I didn't beat myself up about it, but I wasn't thrilled about it . . . I don't know how far it was . . . I might have been wrong about all my yardages today. . . there were these cyan-and-puce yardage poles out in the fairway, but I never  did find out how far they were -- I forget whether I said before or not -- they looked about an 8iron away, and going by that, some of my shots were right and some were not . . .

I judged this one about a 7iron, using that information and plugged straight into the bunker, even tho the shot felt solid and clean.

I guess I should be glad that it was only another bogey. . . I really liked this hole, the downhill, sidehill teeshot to the water, then the elevated green . . . but I felt like I deserved better after two solid shots than a bogey . . .

c'est le golf . . .


this very short par 3 is almost as uphill as #10 is downhill, but only 105m . . .

I finally decided on a half-9iron, and hit it right at the pin, but it rolled off the green into the back fringe.

I musta been getting a little golf-weary by then, I didn't give the up-and-down the attention it deserved, and wound up with a bogey.


There's that dang mower again.
I waited till he got over on the left side and then hit over to the right side.

The hole is only 336m, but it's all uphill and there were moguls where I wound up, so I had kindufa downhill lie for my uphill approach.

The right rough is the wrong place to be, in more ways than one, too, since I couldn't see the green for the trees, either. . . I had to guess, which is not good for my swing concentration.

I got over the trees but short of the green.

And again, I blame this concept of golf-weariness for my shocking bad short game.

Another double bogey.


#18 and #9 look very similar from the tee, and they're right next to each other . . . it's kind of disconcerting . . .

I managed to put aside my doubts and frustrations with a resolve to finish strong. This is a shortish par 5 that looks to be all down hill, and I figgered an eagle would make me happy about my game, after all . . .

So I put the old Iron Byron mechanical swing onto it and hit a high draw right over that little conifer on the right side of the fairway . . . there's a bunker behind it that gave me some worry, but I hip-hopped around it smartly.

I figgered I might even have a half-7wood to the green from there, but I had no idea where it was  . . . totally hidden . . . there was a kind of marker there but I couldn't tell what it was telling me, anymore than I knew what the fruity barber poles meant.

So I pulled a 5iron out, but I pulled it again, if you see what I mean, left of the fairway I couldn't see, onto a road that led into the cart barn . . . from there I could see the green, and what I should've done . . . sigh . . . but I put on the bulldog trying to salvage my hole . . . but chunked the halfwedge to the green tyring to pop it over the trees, then bladed my chip way past the hole. 2putt bogey.

All in all, I had to say that Pallane was very enjoyable to play . . . they seemed to have had some conditioning problems, as had Marsan and Guinlet, due to the extremes of weather, so I'm overlooking a little bit there, in patchy greens and flawed fairways, muddy spots, and so forth . . . I don't think I'm one of those golfers that expects or even desires pristine conditions, if you know what I mean. . . . the first 5 holes are so forgettable here at pallane tho' there has to be marks off for that, but then again, once, you make the turn, the challenges are so unrelenting, you almost wish for more of those breather holes . . . #16 is the only one close, and it's so uphill, there a certain amount of luck involved, even on such a short hole.

But #10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, & 18 are all interesting in unique ways, that make excellent use of the dynamic landscape. When you add in the posh accommodations at the Chateau, it makes for a very nice holiday. If only we had found an armagnac distiller nearby, it would have been perfect!

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