Yes, I have been enjoying all the envious posts from friends, and compliments on my position from the so-called swing experts. But, truth be told, it was this moment that I cannot help replaying, because I think it was this moment that came between me and the storied breaking-100-at-the-Ocean-Course feat.
The fact is, I was out of position. Way out of position! And, ladies, I blame man-think. I confess: I indulged in it, and it cost me.
Here’s what happened: I teed off without the original companions who were going to play with me, because these two men suddenly had other things to do when this big wind came up at the course that, with its 77.3 rating and 144 slope from the back tees, has the reputation as the world’s toughest. PGA Professional Stephan Youngner estimated the wind at four clubs, and said, “This is probably a day we have 10 percent of the time here. And 10 percent of the time, the wind doesn’t blow here at all.” In other words, he said, I was going to get to experience the Ocean Course in all its fury.
Fortunately, I had David Drake set to caddie again on this, my third visit to the Ocean Course, and another delightful Dave, whose flight back to Washington State had been postponed until later in the day, joining us. Then after the eighth hole we were joined by David from Washington D.C. and his caddie Dave.
Yes, four Davids. All we were missing was Michelangelo.
Now we were playing into the wind, as generally happens on nine holes of this beautifully designed Pete Dye layout, and I had just made a zero-putt par from the fringe on 8. At the turn I was at 50. With the wind complicating every club choice and putt line, I did not expect to have the slightest chance at breaking 100.
So, little did I know as I headed for the par-3 17th (the hole in the picture), I stood at 89 and could break 100 with just a bogey and a double-bogey at the last two holes. I had played the par-3s at 2-over, so this was entirely reasonable — especially with the wind behind us.
I started to follow the Davids over to their tees on the right, behind the lake, when it was pointed out that the forward tees were over to the left. And one of the Davids said, well, you’ve got game, why not just play over here with us?
That’s why I am in that photo with the lake between me and the hole. I hit a beautiful shot that did not take the precise line that would have carried the lake, and I hit the facing of the green and splashed. Then I doinked one into the lake, and was going to just skip the hole and post a net par but was instead urged by the Davids to go over to the forward tees and play the hole the way I now wish I had played it in the first place.
Well, guess what — Alice Dye set up the forward tees at the Ocean Course so that it is not the hardest course in the world, or anywhere close to it. With a rating of 72.7 and slope of 124, resort public relations director Mike Vegis notes of those “Carolina” tees, “Maybe you’re not going to score well here, but you’re going to enjoy it.” Alice eliminated forced carries (like that lake) and created an eye-candy layout for short hitters who like to see what it is they are supposed to do. Do not under any circumstances tell your husband, “I am not good enough to play the Ocean Course, honey, you go ahead without me.” Take along one of Kiawah’s caddies, who will point out a sucker pin when they see one, and the average woman can score well at the Ocean Course.
My story does not have that happy ending. Having hit two tee shots into the water from the 168-yard Kiawahs, I hit my next one from the 122-yard Carolinas into a bunker, left my next shot in the bunker, and got the next one out only to watch it roll across the wind-baked green to join my tee shots, in the water. I wrote down a fictitious 6, and made my double-bogey on 18 for, let’s call it, a 101.
Not bad, at the Ocean Course in all its fury. But I’d like to have a do-over. What was I thinking there at 17, teeing up from the blues? Maybe a man could tell me.