A hacker’s delight: the perfect golf hole

I was fortunate enough to play in a charity ambrose tournament at Brookwater Golf Course yesterday. It would be fair to say that for the first 13 or so holes I can not remember ever hitting the golf ball better.

Now I know that is probably hyperbole and as a card carrying hacker that probably does not mean much so some context is needed:

1. Brookwater is widely regarded as the hardest golf course in Queensland.
2. Of late I have breaking in a new set of irons and have not been happy with how I have been playing.
3. Whilst I am probably a 16 handicapper when playing regularly until 2 weeks ago I had not really been playing much in part due to a troublesome left knee.

Every hacker level golfer will be able to impart (or impose) on you a story of the golf hole that keeps them coming back to the game and, indeed, inspires them to play more. I have had a few over the years but the 1st hole at Brookwater yesterday, it must now be declared, will take some serious beating for me. Again for context: by serious beating I mean a hole in one.

So: the 1st at Brookwater is a 350ish metre par 4 with a dog leg left. Here is a diagram and picture of the hole from the course website:

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The course website goes on to describe the hole thusly:

This medium length par 4 flows into a valley and features a gentle dog leg to the left and is the first of 5 stunning opening holes.

A good tee shot to the centre-right of this fairway, which slopes from the right towards 2 deep bunkers and a creek, will leave you with a medium length approach to the green. The two-tiered green is elevated and well guarded by bunkers on both sides.

Pro’s Tip: Long is better than short on your approach shot, as there is a deep valley short of the green which will leave a tricky pitch.

From the tee box this is an imposing hole with a small landing area for drives. Fortunately this hole was actually our 6th of the day having started our round on the 13th so I was a bit warmed up rather than playing this hole cold.

Whilst I concede that an ambrose golf day is begat with less pressure than one would normally have on oneself this hole is the best golf hole I have ever played and it went down like this:

The Drive: I hit first off the tee for our group and hit 3 wood off the tee because I have been spraying my Driver all over the place. Being a smartarse I said to one of my playing partners that I intended to aim my 3 wood at one of the left hand side sand traps and let my fade take the ball to middle of the fairway. Frankly I didn’t have a clue if that is what the ball would do off the club but that is what it did. Straight off the club the playing partner I had that exchange with uttered the words “you complete bullshit artist” so I knew it was good.

The Approach: From the middle of the fairway we measured the approach shot at 150 metres to the middle of the green. The flag was right in the front of the green which had the risk of the run off into the gully. As is normal with ambrose play my playing partners went before me. Unfortunately by the time my shot came around we did not have a ball on the green. I hit an 8 iron in and, again bizarrely, the minute I hit it I knew it was good. The ball landed 2 feet from the hole and stopped next to its pitch mark.

The Putt: If there is a major weakness in my game it is with the putter. As a cricketer my favourite shot was the cover drive and I still to this day push the ball with the putter like I am hitting the ball between cover and mid off. So I stood over my, suddenly, birdie putt with zero confidence. This time I went first and as I stood over the putt all I could think of was “don’t cover drive it”. I thought it was a straight putt and hit it straight and bugger me if it didn’t go in.

I know it was an ambrose game and I know I wasn’t off the back tees but if anyone had ever told me I would have a birdie on the card at the hardest course I have ever played I would have told them they need to cut down on what they are smoking.

I know this is a selfishly indulgent post. However I have written it because this type of hole is exactly what I love about golf. There are moments in this game where you can replicate what the best in the game do every week and sometimes on most holes in a round, using almost the same equipment as them with the same variables of weather. There aren’t many games in sport where you can say you can do that.

My round yesterday at Brookwater has inspired me to play more and to invest in my game a bit with some lessons. I want to replicate the felling of that birdie soon!

A tale of two golf rounds: Brookwater and St Lucia Golf Courses

Anyone who knows me will know that I love golf. It frustrates me and makes me swear more than a reasonable person ought but I still love. I was privileged over the weekend just gone to get in two rounds of golf at two courses that one could say are diametrically opposed in just about every way from price to clientele. Brookwater Golf and Country Club quite rightly promotes itself as the best golf course in Queensland and, the fact is, it is. St Lucia Golf Course is a public course owned and operated by the Brisbane City Council open to all comers. See what I mean about diametrically opposed?

That said, for the reasons that follow, I enjoyed my round of golf at St Lucia just a little bit more than my round at Brookwater. Then again: there is much to be said for the maxim that there are no unenjoyable rounds of golf because the other option is not playing golf.

Brookwater

I was part of a group that played in the St George Foundation Golf Day at Brookwater on Friday. A four ball ambrose stroke event in the name of charity is a more than passable way to spend a Friday afternoon. We teed off on the 15th hole which is one of the many shortish testing par-4s on this golf course. I started off somewhat less than well with a shank into the bushes in front of the tee box. 6 holes of shanking the ball around the best course in Queensland mixed in with some fairly solid putting which made me wonder if I was in the twilight zone given that normally my putting is atrocious at best. The 4th hole (our 7th) beckoned with me feeling totally lost and embarrassed as to how poorly I was playing given my 13 handicap. After another shank off the tee, one of my playing partners started a conversation with the line “now I don’t normally give advice but …”. Normally this line would have been with a “so don’t” but given that this was golf with a client I let the conversation continue. Good thing I did because I had not realized the obvious: I was still swinging the club like I was 128.3kgs; viz., I was still hitting around my gut. That adjustment (mostly mental) made, our second shot down the 4th hole became the first of my shots we had taken for the round after I smashed a hybrid 2 iron 210 metres into the wind. I was still scratchy as I got used to my newish swing but that was the shot that got me back.

The thing about Brookwater that you fast realize when you are playing is that it is not only the best course in Queensland but it has to be one of, if not the, most difficult. The intellectual and physical challenge of the course makes for an interesting round of golf but it must also be conceded is exhausting. So much so that I commented to my playing companions when we returned to the club house that I could never be a member of the course because it would destroy my golf game and my soul eventually. Loosing 9 balls will do that to you!

Still it was a great day, with some great people and in support of a great charity and as I said straight up: a round of golf is never an unenjoyable experience.

St Lucia

As I noted above, St Lucia Golf Links is right at the other end of the spectrum when it comes to golf courses given its public ownership, relaxed dress standards and low prices. That does not make it any less of a golf experience however because the course is in a fabulous state that belies its cost and despite being on the short side has a number of holes that test the mind and the golf swing. Again I started with a shank, indeed I embarrassed myself in front of my social golf club by not making the ladies tees down the first. I was again swinging like a 128.3 kg hacker rather than one with my current lighter frame. Fortunately it only took my 3 holes to get my thought process and swing into some shape. Golfers talk about the hole that keeps them coming back and mine across in this round deceptively early. The par 5 6th at St Lucia is the only par 5 on the course and at 476 metres is still moderately short. It is has a sweeping left turning dog leg however and a gully that runs across at about the 130 metre mark. It was here that I had my hole that will get me back the golf course the next time. Off the tee I took driver and hit it over the cover of the dog leg leaving me 192 to the flag (thank goodness for GPS in the phone). I originally wanted to lay up short but I struck my hybrid 3 iron sweetly and ended up on the fringe of the green on the right hand side of the flag. A chip and a putt and there all of a sudden a red number on my score card.

I may not have set the course alight with low scoring for the rest of the round however I still had a great day walking around the course with the added bonus of great conversation and not loosing a ball all round making this golf experience more enjoyable and less tiresome mentally than my round the previous day.

St Lucia is absolutely a course I could play every week: it is short yes but it presents an enjoyable challenge for the mid handicapped golfer. I reckon Brookwater is a place I could only submit my golf game to a couple of times a year though because it would break down any confidence I had in my game raising a “Bradman” (100) every game and loosing nearly a box of balls at the same time.

Still, any weekend with only one round of golf it in is a good weekend so having played two rounds my weekend certainly was a good one. Anyone for a round this weekend?