The dust has finally settled from Golfapalooza 2014 (Myrtle Beach) and this was a trip like no other.
Our plan was to have four players (myself included) drive down from Maryland and four fly in from Arizona on Sunday June 7th, with the intent on playing Monday-Saturday (June 8-14). Storms on Sunday evening delayed the AZ group’s arrival and then left them stranded in Charlotte, NC as US Airways cancelled their flight to Myrtle. Determined not to miss their Monday 8 a.m. tee time, they rented a car and drove the remaining 240 miles to Myrtle through heavy rain, and arrived around 8:30 p.m. with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The airline refused to release their luggage and equipment to them and promised to fly them in on the next plane.
Sunday evening at 10:30 p.m. we checked at the US Airways lost luggage counter at the Myrtle airport but no bags had arrived from Charlotte and we were told the luggage and clubs would be in on the first flight on Monday – uh oh. Our AZ guys were given permission to buy clothes, toiletries, balls, tees, shoes, and rent clubs, and expense them to the airline, so instead of resting up for our 5:30 a.m. wake up call and dreaming of all the pars and birdies we were going to make on Monday, we went shopping at Walmart at 11:30 p.m.
On Monday, we called Lion’s Paw early and alerted them that we needed four rental sets but upon arrival realized the clubs assembled were barely fit for a yard sale. Was this how a golf vacation was supposed to start? The course was also trying to launch a tournament off the first tee and sent our two Team Walmart foursomes off #10. In the chaos of the arrival, tournament prep, and rental assembly, I did not have the opportunity to hit balls and went to the tee cold. Somehow I scratched out a 7-over 79 on Lion’s Paw but was out of sorts all day and carded my worst round of the trip in the afternoon (89 on Tiger’s Eye).
In the afternoon, we received word that the clubs and bags had arrived, and had been shipped to our condo. Upon arriving home, we noticed that all the clothes and golf equipment were soaking wet. Apparently the airline had left them overnight on the tarmac during the torrential rains in Charlotte. Very nasty-gram going to US Airways on that one.
Tuesday, armed with dried clothes and equipment, we headed back to Ocean Ridge Plantation for a round at Panther’s Run. I got a good warm-up in and started to relax a bit. On the second nine something started to click and even though I carded a 9-over 81, I hit 10 GIR for the first time in 2014. My ball striking had been so bad this spring I was wondering if I’d ever see 10+ GIR and it was a welcome relief.
Then I got on a ball striking hot streak for the next 54 holes and shot 77 and 75 at Tiger’s Eye, with 13 and 11 GIR respectively, and carded a 76 at Leopard’s Chase with 10 greens. Our AZ group was starting to play better as well as they settled in with their own equipment and clothes and it started to feel like a vacation again.
Friday, at True Blue, my ball striking was just a little off and I carded a respectable 82 in the morning followed by an 81 in the afternoon. When the wind is up you need to hit it very solid off the tee, as the 6,812 yards plays like a beast. If you don’t believe in the horses for courses theory, consider that last year I carded an 81-81 at the same venue under pretty much the same conditions, and in 2012 during my last round at Leopard’s Chase, I also carded a 76. I’ve observed over the years that I’ve accumulated significant local knowledge and preferences, and often play well/not well at the same venues on repeated attempts.
Saturday at Surf Club (course review coming), I lost my swing and struggled for 27 of the 36 holes we played. Inevitably, when playing this much golf in a short amount of time, you get too mechanical in your thinking, and I paid for it. Only on my last nine when I decided to dispose of all swing thoughts except hitting the ball at the target, did things right themselves. I struggled with a 46-41 (87) in the morning, and finished up with 44-37 (81) in the afternoon and enjoyed a super high note finish, as I hit a 3WD six feet below the hole on Surf’s 200-yard par-3 18th hole, which requires a water carry and was playing into a stiff two-club wind. It’s great to hit your best shot of the trip on your last attempt.
Stay tuned for trip reviews of Lion’s Paw/Panther’s Run and Surf Club. Happy Father’s Day to all!