The midpoint of 2014 has come and gone, so it’s time for a brief look back at the best and worst of my golf world. The best and worst of the first half of 2014:
Best Investment: Golf lessons. I’ve flirted with getting down to a single digit handicap this spring, which is probably a little behind schedule if I’m honest. Even though I’m not setting course records, my swing and my results have become much more consistent, which has made golf much more enjoyable. Sure, I still overcook a swing into a screaming hook now and then, but my golf lessons have really changed everything about my golf game.
Worst Investment: TaylorMade Project a golf balls – I bought a dozen of these new golf balls on Hilton Head, not wanting to spend big money on a bunch of golf balls I’d probably lose so early in the season. Despite their branding to the contrary, I found these little pieces of gravel to be really hard and completely adverse to my short game or any semblance of control.
Best Idea: The Kentucky’s Best Golf Tour. My idea to take one road trip per month to play some of the best courses in and around Kentucky that I’d not played before with friends has worked out better than I ever imagined. The golf courses have been fantastic, even if the golf has not. It has been golf memory making at its best.
Worst Idea: Playing six rounds in six consecutive days. I wanted to take advantage of escaping the unusually long, cold Kentucky winter during my trip to Hilton Head this spring. So, I decided to play golf everyday, despite having played exactly zero rounds of golf in the prior three months. While I managed to enjoy each round, by the end of the week my hands, my back, and my swing fundamentals were in shreds.
Best Golf Course Played: Kapalua Plantation Course. Having played the Plantation Course, I understand why it is so highly rated by all the major golf publications. It is 18 holes of paradise: beautiful, challenging, interesting, fun, and brilliant. The greens fees aren’t cheap, but it is absolutely worth every penny.
Worst Golf Course Played: Connemara Golf Course. Despite significant infrastructure improvements by the new ownership group, this course just isn’t on a good piece of land. The front nine actually has its interesting moments, but the incredibly redundant back nine can’t be overcome.
Best Shot: Driving the green at Number 6 at Wailea Gold Course. At 264 yards, the 6th hole at the Wailea Gold Course is one of those great risk/reward short par 4 holes that is going to memorable regardless of whether you drive the green or not. Grooving one into a cross-breeze that came to rest 25 feet from the cup is something I will always remember.
Worst Shot: Shank-Topping one into the ravine on No. 8 at Kapalua. The par-3 8th hole at Kapalua’s Plantation Course is a devilishly long hole that requires an enormous carry across a jungle-filled ravine. For me and both of my playing partners, the intimidation factor was too much, as we all mis-hit balls into the ravine, well short of reaching the green. It actually became an Old Man and The Sea struggle for each of us, as we all tried in vain to get our golf balls across the vast nothing. We each eventually yielded to the drop zone with our tails tucked between our legs.
Best Customer Service: Harbour Town Golf Links, Sea Pines Plantation, Hilton Head. The staff had Harbour Town made me feel like I was the most important member of an exclusive golf club when I showed up to play on a cold, rainy afternoon. Despite being one of perhaps three golfers on the entire course, the cart lady bundled up and made sure to check on me a couple of times on each side, even taking a special request for a lunch sandwich.
Worst Customer Service: Country Club of Hilton Head, Hilton Head. These people could not have cared less that I was there, whether I had a good experience, or if I froze to death somewhere on the back nine. It’s a shame that this is what I remember, because it actually was a pretty nice course…that I’ll never go back to again.
Best Golf Club Food: Bratwurst at Heritage Hill Golf Club, Shepherdsville. Despite the cart barn, the pro shop, and the snack bar all being located in the same nondescript metal barn, the bratwurst at Heritage Hill was worthy of Lambeau Field. It was hot, fresh, plump, and they had all the appropriate fixings available (onions, relish, mustard).
Worst Golf Club Food: Country Club of Hilton Head. Since I wasn’t a member, and I was soaking wet, sneaking into the dining room for a quick bite was out of the question. So, I didn’t eat anything.
Best Score: 83, three times. Sometimes, this new swing just all comes together and the ball goes where it is supposed to go.
Worst Score: 95. In a tournament. In front of people I’d never met before. And then there are these other days, when an out-of-whack swing makes for a long, embarrassing, soul crushing day.