Monday, November 21, 2011

Flag Touraj

Mebbe sort of an interesting twist on the strokes touraj, which is not so common here for amateurs . . .

The flag indicates your stroke total, and when you reach that total, you plant your flag, along 7, 8, & 9, the flags were planted all thru Tee to Green . . .8^D . . .

I double bogeyed the first two par 3s, was my main trouble . . . I mean, I count that as 4 strokes I lost, cuz I shouldn't even bogey those holes, and wound up at the 8th tee with 7 strokes left, for a par 3 and a par 5. In desperation I hit my tee shot on #8 par3 10 ft below the hole, jerked the birdie left of the hole 2 inches, easy par, but that meant I had to birdie #9 to finish . . . Totally pureed my drive high up onto the hill, not in the fairway, but with an excellent downhill look into the neck of the dogleg, but I pull-hooked my 7wood into the woods trying to get closer than I really needed to be . . .a 5iron might've done well enuf . . . Punched out of the woods all the way across the fairway behind a bush fir . . . Tried to blunt force a 7iron thru the tree, up the slope, for a miracle, came up 40m short, where I planted my flag. Shoot.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Royal Marianske Lazne, Bohemia, Czech Republic

6062M (~6600 Yds), Par 72, Slope 130.

They Say:
"The Marianske Lazne Golf Club course may serve as an example of Scottish and Irish golfing architecture from the end of the 19th century. The course lies on an upland plain 787 meters above sea level, built under the governance of Scottish professional Duig. It was opened in 1905. Therefore it is the oldest course in The Czech Republic.

"The course forms a clearly bounded area. Only holes No.2 and 3 go out of the compact course boundaries. They were built in 1978 to replace the non-regular old ones. The greens are relatively small (but well protected by bunkers), especially when compared with newly built courses. Most of the course lies on a plain terrain. It seems to be easy at first sight. However, players find many hazards and places demanding an accurate and technical play.

"It is surrounded by a pine forest so that even on very hot days, it is a fine place to be. The surrounding picturesque landscape is natural, not harmed by any construction or buildings. The air is full of oxygen and saturated with ozone, so that it is a real cure for your lungs."

Played in an Intercompany Golf Match over 2 days . . . First day was wet and cold. 2nd day was sunny and cold . . . 8^) . . . Good course, but not all the holes are interesting . . . 

 #1 is not nuthin', but it's not much sumthin', neither. Flat, straight. Small Green.

#2 is a good hole. Sort of a blind tee shot, then a risk-reward decision . . . I tried to make myself go for the green in 2 the second day, but couldn't make a solid swing . . . that creek just takes all the fun out of the shot . . . That big green is really steep back-to-front, so if one *could* fly it to the green, it would hold, for sure. 

#3 is straight, and uphill. A solid drive and a half-decent 7iron would get you where you want to be. But hitting two solid shots in a row is my challenge, thesedays . . . 

#4 another straight, and slightly uphill. Yawn.

#5 is interesting . . . tho' it could also be considered a little gimmicky... that tight dogleg right, enforced with trees, with a bunker pinching the other side of the angle makes the drive a little testy, but if you can get up in the neck it's just a wedge in the rest of the way. Easy green, but the first day there was standing water that slowed the ball to a crawl, so that was tough.

#6 is straight, downhill to the green, narrow (like so many holes here).

#7 is the markee hole here. The first day, we hit a tree on the left trying to cut the corner, hit a 7wood to just below the traps, pitched onto the green, then made a 40 ft bender . . . par on this hole is good enough. The second day, I hit a perfect 5wood 15m short of the creek, then caught a case of the yips like I hadn't had in years. . . couldn't pull the trigger on my 5iron . . . grip felt like it was falling apart in the backswing . . . after 3 backoffs, I just went ahead and tried to hit it, pullhooked into the woods. My partner'd hit a good shot almost where we'd been the day before. I pitched up just off the back of the green. up-and-down from there for bogey was almost as satisfying as the par the day before. That is one heck of a hill going up to the green, as you can see.

#8 is a long par 3 . . . first day was a wipeout . . . 2nd day, with the yips from #7 in my head, I concentrated consciously on technique, which by some odd turn of fate actually resulted in a super shot, a 4iron that came up short of the pin by 3 feet. My partner made the birdie, I don't think I could've, my putting is that bad.

#9 is another par 3 . . . I'm not sure I've seen that before on a "real" golf course, back-to-back par3s. It's a measly 135m, a 7iron I oughtta be able to hit in my sleep, but we bogeyed it twice, missing the green.

#10 is a short par4. Both days, trying NOT to go for the green, I foozled drives. The first day, I turned around and hit a 7iron 4 ft away from the pin, then missed the birdie putt.The second day, bogeyed missing the green.

#11 is the #1 handicap hole: long par4, *skinny* beyond belief, with an elevated green that means you will be trying to up-and-down. Both days, I just *gravitated* a drive upinto the neck of that tiny opening. First day was in the fairway, so we reached greenside in 2, managed a bogey. Second day was in the rough, still soggy, and didn't reach greenside till 3. doublebogey.

#12 is long wide flat par5 . . . easy enough to reach the green in 3 and 2putt for par.

#13 is a long par3. Perfect ordinarily for my 7wood. So I hit a half5wood in the cold & wet conditions. Had this for birdie the second day. No go. 

#14 short par4 dogleg right around deep woods. The first day I was too conservative and wound up still 80m away from the pin (only 60 from the front of the green), so the second day I wound up on the edge of the woods trying to *annie oakley* thru the trees. Not recommended. way wide left is much better.

#15 is one of those short par4s with a bunch of bunkers that makes you put the bigdown down and hit 5iron instead . . . once I do that, of course, if the second shot isn't stiff, then I'm unhappy, and whether a 7iron or 8iron, it just can't keep up with such elevated expectations . . . 8^D . . . This is my playing partner the second day, *Wrong Way Connolly* . . . 8^D . . .what a pair we make with our unorthodox styles. . . comes from his youth playing Irish Hurling he says . . . I say Who Am I To Criticize . . . 8^D . . . he hit some great shots during the day, bailed us out several times when I flaked out.

#16 is another great hole, psychological-impediment-wise . . . that big water hazard on the right combines with the woods on the left to make a very intimidating tee shot . . . IF I could ever hit one good shot I could do it everytime, but I'm O-fer-2 so far, using my partners balls both times . . . First day, I did hit a 7wood up short-left of the green so we salvaged a tap-in bogey, and the second day I hit a 5wood right at the pin that was so good it drew gasps from idle passers-by walking their dog . . .but it was in the front trap . . . got out of the trap expertly, but missed the 4ft par putt . . . those two missed par putts on this hole is what I remember most. . . very upsetting.

#17 is along uphill par5, both days we were looking at *very* makeable par putts after some mis-hits, but we made neither . . . come to think of it... those upset me too . . . 8^D . . .  Those traps that cross the fairway at 130m are *right* where you want to put your second shot . . . like there was malice of forethought in their placement . . . 8^D . . .Somehow that water hazard seems more intrusive in real life, too, closer to the fairway and green.

#18 I like to finish strong, regardless . . . but both days, I was just so wore-out, cold, and irritable that I let the drives wander off into the trees on the right, where then you're looking at a safety, then a LONG shot into the green . . . first day we floundered, but the second day, I had some sudden insight into why my irons were all going left and hit an 8iron 17ft below the hole. My partner made a good run at the bogey putt, so there was nothing left but for me to make it, which felt like a victory of some sort.

So a good course, tho' with too many mundane holes to actually be great. But #7, #11, & #16 are *great* holes, and #14, #15, & #16 are good holes . . . I would say tho' that the par3s and par5s are largely undistinguished. That back 9 really is very interesting, in retrospect I would have to agree, starting with the *theoretically* driveable par4 #10, the impossibly skinny #11, the forgettable #12 par5, the long par3 #13, the amusing #14, the bridling #15, the heinous #16, the long #17 par5,and the puttable #18 . . . 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Golf Club Austerlitz,Moravia, Czech Republic
6428M (~7000 Yds), Par 72, Slope 138 (HAH!)

They say: "Golf course in Austerlitz was designed by renowned golf architectural offices Austrian Hans-Georg Erhardt of Steyer, who is one of Europe's leading golf architects. Irrigated field, it is difficult and interesting natural obstacles, deep bunkers and artificially constructed lakes."

#1 Not for the last time on this course, you need to drive between the two water hazards . . . this 'un's pretty wide, and, of course I blasted my drive, oh, 5 or 10 yds past 'em anyway . . . I tho't I had plenty of club to reach the green in 2, but my 5wood wound up 20m short . . . I just scuttled a 5iron, scottish-style past the hole and 3 putted for a bogey.

#2 I was by myself, behind a 3some in a cart, so I moseyed langourously between shots . . . didn't want to press them, but I did want to finish before dark . . . this second hole kinda demonstrates (to me) the newness of the course, and the way that it might "grow in" as it matures. I just -- more or less intentionally -- hammer-pulled my ball across the dogleg into the stubby rough in the midst of those trees . . .the trees are too small - now -- to really be a problem . . .the hole is short enough, you could just stay in the fairway, but there were some moguls out there I didn't like the look of . . . my wedge distance was uncertain, so I came up 30ft short of the pin, just in the fringe. 3putt bogey. 

#3 is the first of several semi-blind tee shots, didn't bother me, it's only 280m, but severely uphill so I didn't figger there was too much trouble over the water . . . bladed my short iron over the green, and didn't get up and down, even after I played a masterful chip-back from against the 3meter high stone wall -- bogey.

#4 so I was getting a little bored with the course introduction, here . . . easy bogeys is not interesting golf . . . but this next tee shot was visually perplexing . . . I had no idea how far it was to the jumblies, so I just hit it as straight as I could: a high beeline that bounced hard against the slope and rabbited up over onto the side slope next to the fairway . . . I mis-calculated the uphill discount for my short iron, but that was fine, since the flag was on the front . . . had an 18ft sidehill putt for birdie -- you might see the ball right of the pin on the green . . .broke almost 4ft . . . 3putt bogey.

#5 is a long uphill slog slowly uphill, still . . . I tho't I was reconciled to bogey golf, but apparently that last missed birdie putt did aggravate me . . . I hit a short low slice drive to the middle of the fairway, then foozled a 3wood -- from overswinging I realized a hole or two later . . . I usta call this "letting the poodle off the leash" meaning a composure breakdown . . . doesn't happen so often now, but here it was . . . hit another half-assed 3wood short of the green, wedged long and 2putted double bogey . . . on a par 5, dangit.

#6 seems like a little relief is in order, but its a very long par4, even down hill. I was still overswinging and my putting didn't improve, so another double bogey.

#7 turns back up hill, and I resolved to get my swing back under control . . . I mean the course is pretty wide open here, and the wind howling over the hilltop shouldn't make so much difference . . . but it did. Bogey.

#8 -- finally -- a par 3 downhill breather . . . for some reason I resisted hitting a half7wood and opted for a 3iron, which I didn't ketch solid . . . hit my westtexas 7iron chip too solid, 12ft past the hole. putt. putt. bogey.

#9 is not the #1 handicap hole - that's that dang par5 #5. . . since the tees were all under construction I went back to the championship tees instead of forward to the temporary tees . . .what hubris . . . I didn't even reach the fairway with a solid shot to the left side of the divided fairway . . . I don't quite understand the thinking here, design-wise . . .the rough is a little penal, true, but there's just not enough going on here to justify the divided fairway. I took an 8, true, but that was re-mortification due to the temporary tees and my overswinging. . . I don't see why anyone would go to the right fairway here . . . it just makes the hole longer . . . but that is a tough green with a front pin position . . . the bunkers are in play and that false front on the right side makes the landing area smaller than one hopes for. 

#10 . . .ok. we've made it to the top of the hill . . . nowhere near the clubhouse . . . as far away as you can be . . . they do have a little temporary snack-shack by #9 tee / #10 green, but it wasn't in operation . . .but you see the theory of the overall layout now: uphill front9 holes, then downhill on the back9. Interesting concept . . .but I was pretty beat up by then, and wore out . . . good course to have golf carts, like the 3some in front of me . . . I stayed up with them, but dang, at times. Still I was hopeful that I could have some good holes going downhill. . . powdered my teeshot on 10, just hit it as hard and straight as I could, to see what would happen. It went in the bunker on the left . . . 8^/ . . . so I was closeenough to go for the green in 2, but the lie was uncooperative. My 5iron came out week, even, so I still had a long shortiron that I hit fat. my 7iron chip rolled 30 ft past the pin on the cusp of a large circular tier. Amazing green.I think you could play this hole for decades without getting tired of it.

#11 . .  .apparently they have enough downhill they didn't have to leave the holes too close together here . . . it's a good 100m walk to the next tee . . . and same thing as on 10, into the bunker I go, foozle out, wedge on. putt putt bogey. . . thinking the whole time, if it wasn't uphill, I'd go back to 10 and start over . . . that may be wishful thinking, this is the #2 handicap hole, I just think I could do better. Wasn't in a single trap coming up the hill. go figger.

#12 what an awesome view of Austerlitz. After some calculus I figgered 5iron, which was probably correct. If I hit the green, from the height, I guess it would have staid on the front, and not rolled on back, but as it was I was in the second left bunker. Splashed out short, putt putt bogey. The interest in the second hole was all that kept me from going back up to 10 for a restart, well, that and the hill climb.

#13, it's a shock to realize how far uphill I have climbed on the front9, to see the downhill inclines of 10-11-12-13 . . . many courses have 1 hole like that, or even 2, but 4, four! consecutive is a master layout. 13 perplexed me, with its downhill sharp right dogleg . . .one thinks it's possible to drive the green, but the risk/reward is pretty severe . . . I finally settled on a safe 4iron, but that was woefully short . . . I cudda hit a 5wood over the traps safely. Irritation raised its ugly head again here, so I hadda foozle a couple irons to reach the green, then 3putt.

#14 basically back down to the valley floor, now, this is a straightforward par3 . . . I just hit a half7wood without worrying too much about whether it was too much, beeline drive to the right side of the green, and it kicked over off the humps over towards the hole, on the back of the green . . . not really a makeable birdie, but an easy par . . . finally.

the season Americans call Indian Summer has been adopted over here in europe, too, sometimes to describe the surprisingly warm weather . . . in fact, the czechs will translate Babi Leto as Indian Summer, but since I couldn't rationalize them using Indian Summer, I persisted till it was clear to me that Babi Leto means Grandmother SUmmer, because of these filmy tendrils of white somethings that drift about during the re-warmed weather, because it looks likes grandmother's hair . . . 8^D . . . 

#15 on the card looks like a reachable par5 . . . my drive was long and in the middle of the fairway, just past the traps, but I still had something like 250m to the green . . . it's all kinda uphill again, I guess is the kindest thing you could say . . . I flaired my 3wood over into the right rough, right at the 100m marker. Hit a 9iron to the middle of the green, 2putt-par. . . woohoo, 2 in a row!

#16 was not much of a challenge to me now, in my newly refound competency. Driver, 7iron, 3putt, tho'. . .8^/ . . . My camera batteries had died, so I have clipped this photo from their web site. 16 is coming downhill from the left, 17 is a par3 over water to the right.

#17 was a total miscarriage. There were some people kinda wandering around the water's edge by the tee that put me off, so, on a 129m par3, I missed the green and didn't get up and down . . . of all the holes on this course I want to play again to show I can do better, this is one of 'em.

#18 requires another drive between two water hazards, with no malice o'foretho't, I just drove it on the fly between and beyond. Mrs walked out from the cabanas and took this photo from the back of the green from the top of a mound for me .. . that IS how steep it is. I tried to hit a half 7iron the 115 - 120m to the green, and the ball bounced off the falsefront and rolled back down 20m. Dam'. Gimme another try on this'un, too, please! No up and down here, neither.

I love the brutally creative uphill-then-downhill layout of this course, with the lop-sided scorecard (par 37-35, only 1 par3 on the front, and 3 on the back). I may question the design of #9, and possibly identify #6 & #7 as less-than-inspired, but truth-to-tell, I wouldn't criticize a hole on the course: it all fits together so well, that to change one hole would affect the others. There's not really a breather hole in the mix. I can't pick a favorite, either . . . which is always a good sign . . . 8^) . . .

I think it is obvious that this is a rather new course, and needs to do some maturation . . . a few trees growing in would make it harder (more obstacles) and easier (easier to visualize & frame shots) . . . the greens are still kinda grainy, the ball doesn't roll true, which given the contorturedness of these greens is a little unfair . . . 8^) . . . The bunkering is very intelligent all thru the course, both on the uphill and downhill holes, and the mounding around the greens is really attractive and pertinent.

The clubhouse is very nice, the restaurant is justifiably a local favorite, and the cabanas such as we staid in were very nice.

I give this place a 2 on the scottsdale scale, with a note that in a couple of years, it could be a "1". Outstanding.