Hole # 11, par 3, Blue tees, 135 yards After coming close to a par on the previous hole, we drove across the street to the next hole. Hole # 11 is a short par 3 with bunkers on the whole left side. My gps gave me a reading of 135 yards so I decided to go first since I felt the vibe. At 135 yards, I was going to hit my 9-iron and de-loft the club slightly to get more distance out of it. My 9-iron normally gives me 125 yards but I was hoping for a nice smooth swing, a nice bounce and a roll to the green. I had hit it pretty good and it flew right towards the green. I would be short of the green by a few feet. Joe was next. He also chose a 9-iron but pushed it. Allen was next up. With a PW, Allen normally compresses the ball and hits it a long way. He would fly his ball to the back of the green. Tom was next. He chose a 8-iron and pulled it into the sand bunker. By the time I went up to the green, I was quite short and decided to chip on with my 58-degree wedge. I hit it flushed and it flew to the hole. I was left with a uphill putt. The greens at Lakeside were running fast and up to this hole, I was three putting everything. I aimed and fired at the hole. The ball would go past the hole and it would make me putt it downhill. The greens were so fast that if you touched it, the ball would roll a mile. I did exactly that and ended up breezing by the hole. Was this a par 8? The simple par 3 ate us all up. None of us walked away with anything less than a double bogey.
Strathmore GC, Strathmore, Alberta: Hole 1 | par 5, Blue tees: 516 yards
On a nice summer day in Calgary, it is worth a drive out to Strathmore for a challenging round of golf. Strathmore is a small town east of Calgary on Highway 1. Once you pass Chestermere, it is about 35 minutes of pretty fast driving. When you reach the town, you will see a big Canadian flag on your left.
Strathmore GC is a fun and challenging course. Take hole # 1 for instance, a long par 5 at 516 yards from the blue tees. Most of the time, you are greeted by the starter who is parked at the first hole. He likes to encourage higher handicap players to start at the white tees and I think it is fair. More golf courses should employ starters like this, who do their job to make golf more enjoyable. Why play a tee that is more challenging than your playing ability?
From the tee box, Mark didn’t know where to land his tee shot. Sometimes it is nice to see the pin but in this case, it is not visible. A good tee shot is straight or a little right but definitely, not left. Mark was recovering from hip surgery so he decided to take it slowly. He had a brand new Taylormade Burner driver in his hands and he wanted to bolt it out there. He swung and his tee shot flew off to the right. He was in good position for his next shot. Jim was next. As a lefty, he would have to hook his ball to get it to the right side. He chose his Taylormade R9 driver and hit a beautiful draw to the middle of the fairway. Next up was me. I took out my Taylormade RBZ driver and hit it low to the middle of the fairway. With a lower trajectory, my ball ran a few more yards than Jim’s ball.
We got into our carts and drove up to the forward tees where Margaret bounced up to the red tee box and teed up her ball. She took one practice swing then she belted it out there. We are all in good position.
From the fairway, you can see the pin off at a distance. It was almost a sharp dogleg left but from the tee boxes, the pin was not visible. On the left side of the fairway, there were stakes marking off environmental areas. Here is where birds from all over would fly and nest here for the summer. I overheard the starter saying that the Arctic Tern would spend their summers here.
Back to golf, I had over 250 yards to go so I used my 4-hybrid to advance the ball. I would end up with a 9-iron shot to the green which was incredibly large. It was as big as a Olympic sized pool. The pin was located on top of a tier with a very small platform. This is where some accurate shot making is required. Jim was the best chipper around so I watched him intently. He always manages to chip it within 5 feet of the hole. Some people have that talent in their game and unfortunately, it’s not me.
We all made it on the green and were ready to putt it in. Margaret was first because she was the furthest. She took a tennis stroke and her ball flew off her putter like no tomorrow. The green was fast. Mark was next and he too, bolted it past the hole. I was next but Jim took his turn, feeling nervous because he just met Mark and Margaret earlier on the day. He finished off with a bogey. I putted last and tried to get a par but the ball seem to roll uncontrollably. I would end up with a double bogey.