Well after a tough but great day on Royal Cinque Ports (RCP) yesterday and sitting up late supping a few jars, it was off to Royal St George's Golf Club (RSG), a course I had heard so much about and was quite excited and yet equally anxious to play.
I left my hotel on the seafront at Deal and was suitably informed to drive through RCP and I'd come to RSG, so how did I end up at the Prince's Golf Club then! A quick u-turn and a drive through a private housing estate where I noticed a security hut just before the golf club, with no barrier down I just drove straight past without stopping, only to notice a man waving at me in my rear view mirror, which I found out afterwards wanted £4 for a toll, sorry chap, no time to stop and no camera's, so no £4 tax off me was going to be gleaned.
Now slightly on the back foot I got my golf gear together and met everyone in the bar area for a quick coffee, apparently there were bacon butties but I didn't see any so missed out on those. A quick return to the car as I wanted my thermals and suddenly couldn't find my car keys! I backtracked to the bar, the locker room, back to the car, they were nowhere to be found, I then went over to my golf bag near the clubhouse and found them sitting on the carpark floor, no time now to change anymore into my warmer thermals so it was shoes on and get to the practice putting green with my heart pumping and feeling a little flustered, time to settle down before going to the 1st tee.
There was some minor banter being had on the 1st tee, as should be expected at these meets, we all want to play well individually but were all there to enjoy ourselves and have the craic as well, talk of baby draws, power fades and duck hooks seemed to be the current hot topic, so I duly obliged with a duck hook of sorts, and although I was over on the far left on my own but still just on the edge of the fairway, I had actually drove mine further than those hitting it straighter with better looking shaped shots!
I hit a decent 2nd shot with my trusty 4w but it hugged the left hand side and took a little while to find on the high bank overlooking the green, but that was only because I hit it 30 yards further than I'd thought! Anyway, my chip onto the green released to the other side, a 2-putt ensued and I was off and running with a bogey start and 2 points on the card.
For some reason 5 seemed to become a favorite number, as that was what I scored on the first 5 holes for level handicap and 10 points, so not all bad playing bogey golf on an amazing grown up course with huge undulating fairways and greens to match, couple that with not knowing where I was driving to or knowing what was in front of me most of the time, I was more than hanging on in there. I picked up a nice par on the 8th in regulation and I was still level handicap and even more surprising, I still had the same ball, so things were going well, but then it was the dreaded 9th!
What is it with me and the 9th holes, so many times I have a good score going and then mess up and don't return a score on the 9th, I think I must be thinking too much and getting ahead of myself before actually getting to the turn, but whatever it is, I've got to cut it out as once again the 9th cost me. I actually hit a great drive and was in perfect position, I could see a couple of fairways bunkers on the steep incline up to a raised green and after a very nice par on the 8th, overconfidence got a grip of me and instead of laying up over the bunkers but short of the green with an easy iron, I tried to force my 4w and went for it and found a pot bunker with my scuffed shot, and although I got out first time but with no distance achieved, a short iron to the green and then a 3-putt recorded a Nil Pois and stayed on 16 points at the turn.
Came out the traps well again on the 10th with another great regulation par and I just lipped out for the same on the 11th, the 12th took its toll but I scrambled a point but then I had a huge wobble on the 13th! I didn't know where to drive to, the course planner said the right of the lodge in the distance with a draw but I just didn't feel comfortable lining up to that and the duck hook returned as I tried to force my drive over the grassy mounds to an unseen fairway in the distance, all body and no arms it was as ugly as sin and felt awful and I deserved to lose my first and only ball of the round, the 13th was definitely an unlucky hole and number for me as I suitably blobbed the hole.
I battled with the 14th even though I hit a great drive in anger right down the left side of the fairway well away from the OOB which hugged the full length of the right hand side of the hole and then I followed that up with another great 4w over the ditch leaving me only 120 yards to the pin, so how on earth did I come off with 1 point on this great par 5? I chunked my wedge then chunked my sand wedge and eventually got on the green for 5 leaving a 2-putt for a scabby point, that's how!
It was everything to keep my head from dropping, especially as I hit my next drive into the cabbage on the index 1 par 4 15th, digging it out with only an 8 or 9 iron but then I blitzed my 4w and thought it was going to make it to the green, unfortunately I didn't see the long slit bunker protecting it and as I walked up to it I found my ball was pretty close to the deep faced front lip, a bit of encouragement was offered from a playing partner and I not only got out, but I got it up and well onto the green 30 yards ahead, a great scramble after a very poor tee shot and finding a bunker and I came out of it unscathed.
That felt so good I then found the green with a lovely iron shot just missing the birdie putt on the nice par 3 16th hole, another good drive and regulation par followed on the 17th and suddenly I was back in the hunt, the 18th now beckoned and unusual for me I cut my drive to the far right, it was sat a little bit scruffy in the cut down stubbly straw but I managed to get my 4w on it just short of the bunkers leaving it 90 yards from the pin, a nice gap wedge up and over the deep faced bunker in front of me to 3ft of the pin and I was suddenly putting for my 3rd straight par run-in, unfortunately as the adrenalin was pumping I just lipped out but it was still a great finish to what is an amazing course and I can't wait to go back next year with a little bit more knowledge to what I had on this visit. I finished the back 9 with 17 points giving me 33 points for my round, 1 lost ball and 2 blobs, a huge improvement on the day before at RCP but on a much tougher and demanding course, well chuffed.
Back into the clubhouse for a shower in the best facilities (showers) I've ever been in and that followed the best seafood starter and then carvery I've also had at any golf club, although The Berkshire runs it's close.
With the food over it was time for the winners and sinners to be announced, and I only went and won, I honestly thought some of the lads who are quite steady and have played the course before would have put a good score together, so I was really surprised to have won, but it was a battle at times but a battle I thoroughly enjoyed.
Thanks everyone, it was, emotional :D
The #YOTF is up and running ;-)