Tag Archives: Eagles Landing

Do You Golf Like An Artist or Scientist?

artvsscienceHuman beings are predisposed to favor either creativity or analysis in their thought processes.  Take cooking for example.  We prepare a successful meal by either following a recipe or inventing one on the fly.  I am definitely in the latter camp, and believe that when we identify with a trend, it’s probably best to play golf in a similar fashion.  I had an epiphany recently.  I have always thought I trended scientific, but now believe the opposite is true, and realize my current technical approach may be hurting my game.

Do you play with a laser range finder?  I do and my regular golf partner has a GPS device.  These are wonderful instruments of precision and we normally share information on most shots, so I have the distance to the flag, the distance to the front, middle, and back of the green, as well as distance to any hazards or hidden course features at my disposal.  When I factor in wind direction and speed, condition of the putting surface, and my current swing key(s), it feels like I’m trying to land a 747 on a small runway in a 20 knot cross wind.  I’ve been consuming all this information for a long time and have been struggling to hit shots when thinking so precisely.  I think there’s a connection because I had more success when I simplified by calculating yardages old school (using sprinkler head distances to the middle of the green and adding or subtracting estimated yardages for front or back pin placements).   Lately I’ve also noticed I’ve had good results executing difficult recovery or partial shots where my approach has been very simple.

Here’s two recent shots side-by-side to illustrate.  Shot 1:  Yesterday I had a short approach into a par-5.  I measured 54 yards uphill to a back flag.  It was downwind, and the greens were running fast.  I had 60 yards to the back.  I thought, “lob wedge to 51 yards” but tried to be too precise and shut the face a little and the ball trickled over the green into the fringe about 25 feet long leaving a treacherous downhill putt, which I promptly three-jacked.  I’d have been better off playing for the middle of the green.  Shot 2:  Last week, I drove a ball under a tree with low hanging branches.  I had 160 yards left but could not elevate a shot.  I thought, “hit a low 130 yard 3-iron then let it run up”.  Now who practices that shot on the range?  Not me, but I just rehearsed a simple little half flip with the club and hit the shot as planned.  My target was much less precise, but I felt more relaxed during my pre-shot routine than for Shot 1.  Why?  I believe Shot 1 had too many technical inputs and Shot 2 didn’t.  It allowed me to take a creative approach that my brain was comfortable with.

So what to do now?  It’s quite possible that I’m not using the information at my disposal correctly or maybe it’s just too much information.  I’m going to experiment on my upcoming eastern shore golf trip Friday to Sunday.  Friday’s round is at Heritage Shores which I have played twice and am less familiar.  I’m going to use the laser and GPS.  Saturday we play Eagles Landing which I have played over a dozen times and know where to hit it.  So I will go old school and pace off yardages and simplify.  Sunday at Baywood Greens will be the more comfortable of the two approaches.  I will let you know how it goes next week.

Do you over-complicate your approach on the course?  Hope not.

Play well!

My Adam Scott moment

What happened to Adam Scott at the British Open was a terrible experience that nobody should have to go through but everyone who plays golf has probably experienced to some point.  My Adam Scott moment occurred last Monday at Eagles Landing in Ocean City, MD.  This was not a tournament round where competitive pressures can get the best of you, but a recreational round where a personal scoring record was at stake.  Having been in both situations, I recognized the similarities afterwards.

Heading out to the course, I had no expectations for good form since I had not played or practiced for two weeks.  Just showed up and teed off after pitching and putting for about 10 minutes.  The round started off innocent enough with a routine par on #1 and a misplayed chip on #2 that led to a double bogey.  I steadied myself with a couple of pars and then reeled off four birdies in five holes to close the front nine in two-under 34.  Five more pars and a birdie later, I was at three-under with three to play and knew my personal best score of 2-under was at risk of falling.  Normally, I never total my score after nine holes because I try to stay in the moment and not think about score, and I didn’t this time, but trust me, when you are three-under, you know it.

I had actually started to come unglued on the 15th hole and pushed a three-iron layup off the tee into a pond for a lost ball, but managed to save par by draining a big right to left breaking 40-foot putt.  Convinced the golfing gods were on my side, I stepped up to the 16th tee, which is a very simple 300 yard par-4 and cold topped a 3-wood into a swamp 50 feet in front of the tee.  My brain was running 1,000 mph now and I re-teed, determined not to think about any mechanical thoughts, and I nailed my 3-wood in the middle of the fairway.  Unfortunately I was left with one of those in between distances of 66 yards and hit my 56 degree about 50 yards.  Three putts later I had a triple and was back to even-par and in a mild state of shock.

Even-par through 16 is great at this course, but I felt like I was 10-over.  The 17th is a medium length par-3 and I managed to place my 6-iron about 15 feet under the hole.  Still reeling from the three-putt on the prior hole, I got tight and left the first putt about 4 feet short and missed the par attempt.  #18 is a par-4 that was playing very short and required only a precision layup with a medium to long iron and then a medium iron to the green with a forced carry over a marsh.  My tee shot barely hit the clubface and I left myself an impossible shot from deep rough that needed to fly under a tree and over the marsh.  Made it under the tree and no farther – double bogey.  So I played the first 15 holes in three-under and the last three in six-over.

The propensity to choke can happen at any time to anyone and to a player of any caliber.  What could I have done differently?  I thought I was staying in the moment, at least trying to, but it didn’t work.  What could Adam Scott have done differently at Lytham?  Seems like the urge to protect, get cautious, and think mechanically all work against you, but there has to be a way to stop the bleeding especially when you’re hot and playing well.

What’s your Adam Scott moment?  Got any cures?

Eagle’s Landing – Course Review

Summary

Eagles Landing view of #18 fairway from #10 tee

It’s all about the course at Eagle’s Landing in Ocean City, MD.  Located adjacent to the Ocean City airport, Eagles Landing is technically a muni because it’s owned and operated by the city, but the impression of “muni” ends when you step on the first tee.  This is one of my favorite plays on the Delmarva and my stop here on October 28 again lived up to lofty expectations.  Tees and fairways were in excellent condition and the Bentgrass greens were running surprisingly fast.  Bunkers were well maintained and had good consistent sand.

Tee shot on the par-3 17th hole at Eagle’s Landing

First time players will not be wowed by the facilities but when play begins, everything changes as you enjoy excellent hole routing and a wide variety of shot choices around the greens.  Along with the superb conditions there are several spectacular views of holes running along the salt marshes of the Sinepuxent Bay.

Eagle’s Landing is buffeted by fresh coastal breezes and the later your tee time the more certain you are to play in the wind.  Managing the wind and knowing how to safely negotiate some placement holes are key.

View of Eagle’s Landing #16 from the Cloud Dancer bi-plane

Playing tips:  The par-3 fifth has a prevalent two-tier green.  If the flag is in the front or middle, play from below the hole.  A chip or putt from the upper tier is dead.  The par-5 seventh hole is a beauty and doglegs 90 degrees to the left.  From the gold tees, play your tee shot at 200-210 yards.  Take the maximum yardage to the end of the fairway for your second shot as there is ample room past the end of the fairway.  You do not want to be short because the third shot is to a green out in the marsh and you must get enough distance to clear the tall pines guarding the left side of the approach.  #10 is a short par four and the woods creep up fast on the left.  Hit your 3WD or driver but favor the center or right rough for an easy approach.  On the par four 15th, lay your tee shot back with a 3WD or hybrid to stay out of trouble.  Water is hidden on the left and sneaks up fast and there is no advantage to hitting driver.  #16 is a deceiving short par-4.  When the pin is cut on the left (front or middle), do not attack it as most shots will roll through and over the green.  Even putting at this crowned pin position is tough so take the middle of the green.  The 18th hole is termed “The Beast of the East” and is an awkward play because it takes the driver out of your hands as the fairway runs out at about 210 yards and is guarded by marsh on the left and right.  The second shot is difficult the farther you lay back so get as close to the end of the fairway as possible.  If you land in the marsh, you want to minimize the distance for your third.  Good luck!

Value (4.0 out of 5.0)

Greens fees are quite reasonable for a course of this caliber.  High season weekend rates top out at $79 and we played for $55 on the weekend fall rate.  Being city owned and operated allows the course to keep fees low and provides excellent value.

Facilities (2.5 out of 5.0)

The major investment at Eagle’s Landing has been placed in the 18 holes of golf.  A medium-size clubhouse hosts a no-frills snack bar and pro shop which serve little more than their functions of getting golfers out on the course and providing basic refreshment.  There are no locker rooms and rest rooms are a bit dated and could use some modernizing.  Players looking to warm up need to use the short game area because there is no driving range.  The pitching green is ample in size and provides a variety of lies as well as two practice bunkers that are kept in excellent condition.  I’ve warmed up adequately by hitting partial sand wedge shots but if you need to hit balls, stop at the Assateague Greens Golf Center on the left side of the road prior to entering the course.   The large practice putting green is located close to the first tee and and conditions usually mirror those on the course.

Customer Experience (3.5 out of 5.0)

This is a popular golf course because of the quality/conditions and the reasonable greens fees so get your tee times early.  I had no problem booking an advance time for my late-October round, but in season, the tee sheet fills up fast.  You can call or book your times on-line.  One minor inconvenience is how you get a prerecorded phone message to call back when the shop staff doesn’t pick up, and then you are disconnected.  I can wait and listen to some elevator music.

At the course, the bag drop staff and starters are friendly and accommodating.  We were visited several times on the course by the beverage cart which was offering free coffee refills on a cold blustery day, which was much appreciated.  The take offs and landings of small aircraft at the nearby airport were a pleasant diversion and didn’t prove to be irritating or distracting.  GPS has been installed recently on all golf carts which is very helpful and we found play moved at an excellent pace with our round taking slightly over four hours to play.

On this day, I played the gold tees at 6,306 yards and carded a six-over 78.

Overall Rating (3.5 out of 5.0)

Jim on the second tee at Eagles Landing
Jim on the second tee at Eagles Landing


Golf trip set – Destination: Maryland Eastern Shore

My exciting fall line-up is booked for the last week of October.  First up is a new course for me, Glen Riddle – Man ‘O War which is part of a two course complex just outside Berlin, MD.  Next is Eagles Landing in Ocean City, MD, which is one of my favorite courses at the beach.  And we’ll finish with another new play, Heritage Shores, which is a semi-private track in Bridgeville, Delaware.

My game is in strange shape after last Sunday’s round at Maryland National.  I carded my highest score of the season (89) but felt strangely good after the round since I putted so well using the new Stockton method.  Didn’t hit it close all day which gave my lag putting a workout.  Weird how you can get excited about a poor round of golf.  Anyway, full course reviews are coming and please send me any recommendations or playing tips you have on Man ‘O War or Heritage Shores.  Thanks!