MIAMI — My previous blog talked about the excitement of discovering a historic golf course, walking in the footsteps of greats such as Sam Sneed and Gene Sarazen, as well as non-golf legends such as Jackie Robinson and Mickey Mantle.
It would be a great story if Pete and I contributed a chapter to the rich history of Miami Springs Golf Club, but unless there’s a comedy section, I think we will have to settle for having a great time.
The whole point of the trip was to celebrate my becoming old enough to play off what I call the “old man tees” (yeah, I’m not ashamed. I need all the advantage I can get).
The conditions were perfect. The wind blew 15-25 miles an hour, which I love more than anything, and the temperature was a lovely 82 degrees.
The layout of the course is wide open (a far cry from pre-Hurricane Andrew days, when there were more than 3,000 extra trees on the course). But being wide open doesn’t mean one can just blast it anywhere. Being on the wrong side of the fairway could mean the green is blocked by one of the big banyan trees (as I found out on the second hole the first two times I played it — I’m a slow learner).
We decided to play the same course both days of our trip, and we played the first nine twice the first day. The logic was that we would know the course better the second day. We did — mostly. For a start, I avoided the tree on No. 2 the second day, after having been stymied twice the first day. But I did manage to drive the hidden fairway bunker on 18 the second day having forgotten that I had barely missed it the day before.
The funniest part of the trip came on the 10th hole. The first day, Pete said it was a dog leg right. I stood on the tee and blasted a great drive which faded (not sliced) and perfectly contoured the dog leg. Pete followed suit with another cracker bending to the right. We hopped in the cart, our eyes firmly on the balls sitting in perfect position.
Except, when we got there, the fairway seemed to disappear. We stared ahead, looking for our next target. The hole had simply disappeared. Then we turned around. Apparently, it was a dog leg to the left. Sure, we could have looked at the map on the card, but it seems we were not smart enough for that. Our “perfect” drives had left us miles away from the green, and the pair of us in stitches.
But no problem. When the next day comes, we will have it down.
Fast forward to the next day. We are smart. We remember. All I have to do is clear the trees in the distance to leave a nice 9-iron to the green. I was first up and I killed my drive. Perfect line and long. Pete got up and followed suit. There was much cockiness as we got in the cart and drove down to admire our skills and course management.
There was only one problem. Apparently, the hole dog legged before the trees and not after. So we found ourselves in the rough and blocked by the trees. By now we were laughing our asses off — old and forgetful. I looked back down the fairway. There was nobody behind us that we could see so I suggested, as we would not have another chance, that we pick up, go back to the tee and try once more to actually play the hole as it should be played.
We both hit good shots again, this time on the right line. Shockingly, we discovered that hitting the ball in the right place leads to an easy second shot. I think we both made pars (let’s go with that).
There were several other examples of, “Oh, I didn’t know that tree would block that approach,” or, “Ah, there’s a bunker there in perfect position to catch my tee shot,” but we just chalked it up to (in)experience.
But the best part was actually getting to play. Southeast Texas has been so wet that it has been difficult to even get a round in. And if we could just play Miami Springs another four or five times, we might actually remember where the hell we are supposed to go….