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Playing a course for the first time.

7 posts in this topic

I have my dentist appointments in a small town 40 miles north of my home town.  I was wanting to get out to play tonight, but seeing as this small town has an 18 hole course I figured I would give it a go.  It looked pretty nice online and had a pretty nice website.

I walked into the clubhouse and asked the lady behind the desk if there was a chance to walk on (I didn't make a tee time because I had no idea how long my appointment would be).  She gave me a puzzled look and then I realized that this was such a small town that tee times weren't really necessary.  I asked her for directions to the first hole, hit 3 putts on the putting green, and I was off.  The course is 72.6/121 from the tips which play at 6850 yards.  The longest course I have played is about 6600 (the tips at my home course are only 6500), but I thought I would give them a go since I probably won't get back to this course any time soon.  Despite getting lost a couple times and almost aiming at a wrong hole on my second shot I shot an 80.  My lowest differential ever for a round.  I can't believe that I can play a course for the first time and play as well as I did.  I've been playing my home course for 6 years and the best I have managed from the tips is 80.

The course had some very nice black sand bunkers, but luckily I didn't find any of them!!!

Anyways, I have many horror stories of playing new courses, but this was a rare gem!  Anyone else care to share a new course experience.

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A couple of years ago my wife and I were going to Missouri and we stopped to get gas at Lake Barkley in Kentucky. I saw that they had a golf course close by (Mineral Mound State Park Golf Course) and I was getting tired of driving so we went to check it out.

There weren't many people playing so we had no problem getting on the course.

Got the clubs out of the car. No warm up. Not a clue how the course played or how to play it. Didn't even have it on my GPS, but off we went.

Picked the wrong club several times both off of the tee and into greens that cost me a few strokes.

Not a clue why but I shot a 75. That's about what I would expect to shoot on that course, but not under those conditions.

(I would have been happy with an 85).

You never know.

BTW. I really liked the course and plan to stop and play there again the next time I go to north Missouri. (Next time I'll have it on my GPS).

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I live about an hour or so from Mineral Mounds.  When my home course is closed for maintenance or some type of scramble, my normal foursome always goes to Mineral Mounds and play.  Love that course.  Lots of doglegs.  Def gets easier as you play it.  Another great course to play that is close to that one is Drake Creek.

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I love playing new courses for the first time. When visiting a strange course, I prefer playing a length under 7000. I just want to have fun.  I've played scratch golf before, and I still don't play the back tees everywhere I go.  It just depends on the course.  If the back tees are 7500........I play the forward tees. LOL

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Originally Posted by BuckeyeNut

I love playing new courses for the first time. When visiting a strange course, I prefer playing a length under 7000. I just want to have fun.  I've played scratch golf before, and I still don't play the back tees everywhere I go.  It just depends on the course.  If the back tees are 7500........I play the forward tees. LOL

This is absolutely my method to a "T".  The Old Works course in Anaconda Montana has 5 sets of tees, the tips are 7700 yards, the middle tees are about 6800.  My brother and I played the middle tees the first time we played, then the next 2 times we played the set in front of the mids at 6144.  The course doesn't present any exceptional difficulty, but for us 6800 yards was just outside of our comfort zone.  The next year when we went up there, we played all 3 rounds from the middle tees.  Neither of us is long enough to be thinking about playing any farther back.

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I don't have any success stories to share, usually don't play better than average the first time on a new course. The key for me is knowing where to miss, tough to see looking at scorecard diagrams and making assumptions from the fairway. Fortunately most of the newer courses here have gps carts. Feels like cheating at times. Colorado National is a course I don't play often and I appreciate the hole previews the carts give, pretty slick with the voice demo, animated flyovers. If there's a layup area or semi-blind hazard to be avoided you hear about it.

We ask the pro shop what tees they recommend for our handicaps. A few courses print it on the cards. At some courses it would be easy to be confused with their 4 sets of middle/back tees. One in particular at the first hole there isn't much separation, from the tips it's just 413 yds. By the second hole the difference is dramatic, you'd be facing a 626 yd par 5 while people playing three up from the back are at 555 yds. I've been paired with guys that start on the championship tees that move four sets up to the 6230 yd copper tees after running off a string of triples.

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I love playing courses for the first time. As they say, "Variety is the spice of life."  Usually I shoot 5-10 shots higher than my regular score when I am playing for the first time.  I feel the reasons are:

• unfamiliarity with the breaks and speed of the greens

• unfamiliarity with the location and exact distances to the trouble areas (water, sand, marsh, trees, etc.)

• unfamiliarity with the kinds of grass on a course (bent vs bermuda)

• adjustment necessary for club selection in relation to yardage

We just got back from Hawaii, (first time there), and I had the opportunity to play two very nice courses, Ka'anapali and Kiahuna. These courses were fun to play because they were truly "resort" courses with generous fairways and very nice greens.

Kiahuna, a Robert Trent Jones design, was particularly intriguing. On almost every hole you were presented with a number of options to play the hole, a "safe" way, and another way to challenge the above average golfer.

• One good example was a par three that had water bordering the right side of the green.  There was plenty of green to the left of the water to land the ball with either a chip or long putt being the result. But, if you wanted to take a chance you could challenge the water for a more realistic birdie attempt.

• Another example was a par 4, dogleg left. A relatively easy straight shot left a 140-180 second shot to the green.  Attempt to cut the dogleg and a number of bunkers come into play, but the reward was a much shorter approach.

To make a long story short, I played better than normal for a first time course, and shot 84 at Ka'anapali, and 82 at Kiahuna. I hit a lot of good shots to get those scores, because I only made one putt of more than six feet in 36 holes. I also loved the challenge of playing the windy conditions.

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