PAR WARS: THE FINAL ROUND
The Sub Par Golfer’s Account
ROUND NINE – KA’ANAPALI
This was make or break time. The last round at a difficult course, a round that could spell the end of Par Wars 2016. I’d already had a massive argument with my family that morning about Trump, so I wasn’t off to a flying start. When we drove up to the first tees, the reds here were only 4500 yards, so I decided it would be more accurate/fair/comparable to other rounds if I played off the “Fern” (green) tee at 5500 yards. What I didn’t look at though, was the distance for men off the next tees back “Sand” (yellow) tees.
Normally Phil’s tees are around 6000-6400 yards, but at Kaanapali they were the shortest he’s played, 5500 yards. I didn’t realize that at the time, but it quickly became apparent when we pulled up to each tee. The difference was, on about 15 holes, under 10 meters. I measured one that was five and a half club lengths difference. To me, this was the worst time for such a blatant non-difference in the tees. And it was a very ‘popular’ talking point throughout the round – haha.
We teed off, two brilliant drives, both on in two about a foot from each other. Phil did a great putt up for a gimme, and I sailed mine right past somehow and missed the return for a 3-putt. Meh, this happens. I wasn’t gonna get down on myself so early, so I marked down the score and we moved on to the second.
I got us back to square by doing a little less of a duff hole on the second, and we halved the third. I proceeded to do two doubles on the trot, mostly thanks to some bad driving (again). Two-down after 5. This was where the rain started. And when I say “rain” I mean deluge. Sideways bullets. We ran out of the cart to hit our shots and within 15 seconds we were soaked – at least it was warm.
I hit my shot right on the par-3 hole, Phil hit his more right and had a more difficult shot in. My chip was ok but still four meters away. Phil’s chip ran downhill and off the green. He came away with a double and I sunk my big putt for par. Back to one-down.
After 9 I was still one-down, and my three double bogies weren’t helping. I was too in my head and concentrating too hard on the fact that on pretty much every par-four, Phil had a 100m shot in whereas I had 160m shots in. Every time.
Sure, my driving wasn’t brilliant, but it was near impossible for me to get on in regulation. Thankfully we joined up with another two-ball who took my mind off it and I started to play better.
I fought my way back to all-square by the 14th and we were battling it out for the win. I’d save my ass with a good chip or a longputt, and Phil would answer back with regulation play and a two-putt that nearly dropped. We pulled up to the 17th and things were heating up. Phil’s drive was long and left, mine short and right. I hit my approach shot in with my feet above the ball and it somehow went right of the green. I had a bunker and just two meters of green between me and the pin. Shit. Phil had gotten onto the back of the green.
I knew this shot had to be aggressive and especially good. Now, I never do flop shots, but I had no choice. If I didn’t, I’d stand no chance of winning the match. I opened up my 56-wedge and concentrated. The result was, honestly, a proper golf shot. Professional-level stuff. It pitched right where I’d planned, but the result was better than I even hoped. It checked and rolled right up to the lip of the cup. About one inch from glory. If it had dropped I probably would have won, but I was happy with the result anyway. Phil had a great two-putt, it came to within a gimme so we halved the hole.
Walking onto 18 we were all square. This was it. A dogleg left with sand on the right, a street on the left and water up ahead. Phil went long and into the sand on the right. I heard a door open. It was windy so I played a 5-iron short and close to the left line, as I thought the wind would take it. It didn’t, and I ended up smack behind a leaning palm tree. No shot. Of course.
I looked at the shot for a long while and suddenly I saw something. The palm tree was leaning right, and I could potentially get around it, over the water and left of the green if I hit a more lofted club. The only problem was the gap by the water had another palm tree blocking the way. I decided that I had to go for it. No playing safe now, I had to come out guns blazing. Besides, palm trees are so skinny…
I took the shot, and all was going to plan — the shot snuck right by the first offending palm tree, then it got near the secondary problematic palm and what else happened but SMACK. It hit right in the thick of the palms.
I dropped to the ground in suspense-gone-wrong. The ball dropped into the water hazard, no luck there either.
Phil’s shot out of the bunker looked like it was going for gold, but it came up just short and while it passed the water hazard, it fell into the bunker in front of the green. He was there for two. I was laying three, hitting four. While it was an unlucky result, I was happy I’d gone for it, so my mood wasn’t tense at all. I found my ball in the water and dropped it under the [bastard] palm tree. Again, it was all or nothing and all I could do was try.
I visualized exactly how I wanted the 45m shot to go, because what else can you do? It had to cross over the water hazard, over grass, and pitch just over a bunker with a high-bump lip and roll right, toward the pin that was about 15m on. I saw it. I took a couple practice swings for feel and swung.
I looked up. To my surprise as much as everyone else’s, my ball flew over the water hazard, over the grass, and pitched perfectly over the high-lip bunker and onto the green. It rolled slowly, slowly, slowly uphill and to the right and came to rest about 14 inches from the hole. What. A. Feeling.
Phil gave me the putt, and he lagged his putt up to a tap-in for the half. An incredible finish.
It was bittersweet though as I knew it meant I’d lost Par Wars, but it was a great ending to our match. Some really good golf.
So the final score rests:
THE SUB PAR GOLFER: 3.5
Congratulations Phil, you deserve it.
**But be ready for next time…
Par Wars round 9. 13th December
The score is 5 games to me 3 games to Michelle. This round will in all likelihood be our last. However, if Michelle wins and brings the difference back to 1 game, she may well want to play another round to give herself the chance of a draw.
Ka’anapali boasts 2 great golf courses, the Royal and the Kai, but we’ll be playing the Kai. It would have been good to play themore expensive Royal course because it is designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr who designed our home course of Chamonix but the vouchers we’d picked up for $65 were for the Kai where the green fee is normally a tad over $200…. Gulp.
Our usual pre-round discussion ensued as to which tee boxes we would play from. I gave Michelle the honour of choosing her tee box and to my surprise, she did not choose the red (or hibiscus as it was here) but she chose the whites (fern). The slope for for ladies from this tee was 130 and the corresponding tee for men with a slope of 130 was the next one back, the “sand” tee box. So in effect, we had both just moved back 1 tee box. I thought this would probably work out to be fair.
Michelle was surprised on the 1st hole (a par 4) to find her tee box was only about 10m in front of mine. We both found the green with our 2nd shots but a 3 putt from Michelle put me 1 up and a disaster on the 2nd from me put us back to square. Quite a few of Michelle’s tee boxes on the front 9 were not that far in front of mine. I don’t think it would have been a huge problem if she was playing OK but she was not – so at 2 down at the turn she started to kick up a fuss.
Truth is, the reason I was 2 up at 12 was not because of the tee boxes, it was because Michelle was not playing very good golf. Her tee shots were pretty poor but she was scrambling well with her short game. If she had been playing better golf she could easily have been 2 holes up – although my driving was good, my game around the green was awful and I was 7 over par after 11 holes.
Bogeys at 13 and 14 put us back to square and I started to get a little worried. Between the 13th and 14th, Michelle asked hopefully “Shall we mix up the tee boxes a bit?” Of course by mixing up, she meant she wanted to play from the reds. I said she could play from the reds if she desired but I would continue to play from the tee we’d initially chosen. Once again she chose not to change. I was glad because walking on to 15 it was all square.
We walked on to the 17th all square. Michelle’s 2nd shot left her with a 25 metre chip over a bunker with very little green to work with. I was just off the green but I could putt mine. I thought Michelle was more than likely to chip and 2 putt but she played her shot of the day – a flop to under a foot to the hole. Pressure was now on me. I putted up to a tap-in so we were still all square.
The 18th is a short par 4 , which curves round to the left. With huge palm trees on the left and a 3 club wind left to right, it was very tricky today. I ended up in a fairway bunker on the right 120 metres from the green, Michelle ended up tight left behind a palm. I saw Michelle play but didn’t see the result. I hit my 2nd shot over the water into a greenside bunker but then noticed Michelle looking for her ball in the water hazard. I thought my luck was in. She’s be on for 4 then 2 putt. I’d get on for 3 and 2 putt and the game would be mine.
But once again Michelle played an amazing shot. A 50 metre chip over sand to put it to with 18” so I had to give her the putt. Pressure back on me again. It had rained so the sand was wet and heavy. I’d been in the bunkers all day and played them well. It came out but not near the hole. I managed a 2 putt and we halved the match.
Overall result 5½ to me 3½ to Michelle. I had won Par Wars.