The day has finally arrived, I’m playing the Stadium Course, home to Tiger’s “better than most putt” and a host of other big time shots by Tour pros. From the yardage book “Every hole on Pete Dye’s masterpiece demands precision and commitment, none more so than the most recognized hole in golf and the defining moment of the tournament-the island green 17th hole.”
My caddy was Parker again, a great thing as we have a nice rapport and he knows my game. I met Kurt and Chris two brothers on a golf trip in the pro shop earlier when we all were checking in. Parker and I went to the range for a few minutes and worked on my driver. When we got over to the tee box, we met our fourth, Joey and his wife Sue who was riding along and taking pictures. Yes you can take a cart but it’s cart path only so a lot of walking.
We teed off and I started off like gang busters at least for me. Hit the fairway on both one and two and got two putt bogeys on both. On three got up and down for a par. On four it would be a precursor to what was about to happen. Drive right into the sand, second shot another bunker, third shot on the green and two more putts for a bogey. On five I went into another bunker, this time it took me five shots to get out as I kept rolling back in or not hitting it hard enough. Finally got out only to go into another bunker, two more shots and I end up with a twelve. Hole six had five more shots from the sand for a nine. To finish this three hole nightmare, on seven I had three more bunker shots. On just these three holes I had fifteen, fifteen sand shots, just terrible. Parker and I decided no more sand for me, lol. After all those sand shots and I had one more on nine I shot a ugly 59.
We made the turn and even though I felt like I was covered in sand, I still was having a great time, the group was playing well and everyone was really nice and the weather was great. Ten got a double as I topped my second shot, came up short on the approach and then two putted. Eleven good drive, second shot into the water and ended up with a double. Twelve and thirteen got bogeys on those but I did manage to get out of the green side bunker on one try. Fourteen, fifteen and sixteen all had bunker shots, even had two on fifteen as I went from one to another when the ball rolled off the green into another trap. I also got doubles on all of them as well.
I won’t lie, the seventeenth hole is why this whole trip happened. Last time I stood over a Pete and Alice Dye par 3 seventeenth hole was at The Ocean Course at Kiawah. Let’s just say that was not one of my finer golf moments. As you walk up, it’s kinda crazy it’s almost like a bowl or “Stadium” seating and all eyes are on you. When we teed off we had a couple of maintenance guys watching behind us, two different couples getting pictures taken at different spots on the hills around us and some guy near the green doing something for the course. I had been hitting last all day because of filming so the order wasn’t changing now.
The pin was sitting up on the ridge, no Sunday pin placement. I feel like you have a ton of pressure going first on a hole like this, especially when it is this hole and we had a mini gallery. Joey stepped up first, his wife started to record for his tee shot. Bang, he knocked his shot right on the green about twelve feet to the right. Chris the best golfer in the group went next with his brother recording, and he hits a nice high ball that settles about eight feet from the flag. Ok now this kinda getting serious. Kurk steps up and now Chris is recording and he puts his on the green towards the back about fifteen feet from the pin. So at this point everyone else is sitting on the green in regulation, talk about pressure this was it. I had been so inconsistent all day with my irons and now you can only really land it on the green. I stepped up and seriously my heart was beating a bit fast, I took a breath and relaxed. Made a nice an easy swing and stuck that ball on the green. I was so happy I floated up to the green. Sure I should have made a better run at my birdie putt but I had a two footer which I made for the best par I have ever had. We took a group photo with the flag and tree in the background of course and was off to eighteen.
On eighteen I played a super aggressive line with my driver and it worked as it probably was my best drive of the day and I needed every yard of it to carry the water as I ended up only about ten feet from the water. I ended up making a seven footer to save my bogey. I shot a 49 on the back to redeem myself. Hey that 108 is a better score than I got on No. 2 at Pinehurst so I will take that. If you look at my scorecard, I had only 35 putts and hit 10 of 14 fairways. The sand was what killed me, 23 shots from the sand is outrageous. I guess I know what I need to practice.
This course was amazing, I know I say that about all of the places I play, but seriously this one was the most satisfying of them all. Is it because of seventeen? I will say yes, and when you hit last in your group with a mini gallery and put it on the green, well it’s a feeling that if you played sports you know what I am talking about, and if you’re a golfer well then you definitely know the feeling. Thanks for reading along and be sure to check out my Instagram to see the round! I promise to keep trying to hit them straight but if I don’t I will yell “FORE”!
The High Handicapper