In September 2015, I had been going to the range on a regular basis, but never been out on a course. That month, I had the fortune of finding SWING – a women’s golf meetup in the bay area – and they were hosting a meetup at a local golf store.
While it’s intimidating to go someplace new and hang out with strangers, I wondered if going to place with women who shared a common hobby may be fun.
It was fun.
I was talking to a woman there and she said she usually plays Golden Gate Park Golf Course with another woman but they recently had gone to Fleming (at TPC Harding Park). She invited me to join them for 9 holes the next time they go. I was nervous to say “Yes” because I had never played a course (had only been going to the range for a few months).
However, I did say “Yes”. On reflection, since I was invited by another woman to play on a golf course, I believe that’s a main reason why I continued to play golf – and I have loved every minute of it since!
The LPGA women’s network launched an #inviteHER campaign this fall. Whether you are male or female, invite your female friends to the range, to the course to play or even just to sit in the cart while you play golf.
The Baylands Golf Links, formally known as the Palo Alto Golf Course, is a municipal course and opened in May 2018 after 2+ years of renovations.
Important!If you are playing this course for the first time and no one in your group has played it before, download or print out the yardage guide (located on the Baylands website). There are a number of holes where you could end up going for the wrong flag because it’s not clear which fairway is for your tee when standing on the tee box.
If you set up a tee time be sure to inform them that you are a bay area resident. They were going to charge the full rate ($90) for our 7:03am tee time until I mentioned that I was told over the phone that I would be paying a lesser amount ($82 as of 6/2/2018) and that I’m a bay area resident. Ask about the Links Card ($49 for bay area residents) if you intend to play here 2-3 times per year to save money. Everyone in your foursome will get the discounted rate too!
It was a clear warm morning (almost 60 degrees at 7am). The first thing to notice about the first tee is that the sign says it’s a par 5, but the score card might say it’s a par 4. The scorecard on the website states that hole #1 is a par 5 and that it’s a par 72 course. While the scorecard I picked up the day of play stated it was a par 4, par 71 course.
The bunkers were thick with sand and will probably get compacted over time, which would help. Almost every shot out of the bunker flew the green because of the fluffy sand. There were a couple small touches of links style course, such as these bunkers:
Without having previous knowledge of the course and no guide on the scorecard, for some holes it was difficult to tell which direction to hit the ball either from the tee box or for the approach shot because the flags and greens were hidden (and because there are no trees lining the fairways).
Number 17 is a 200 yard par 3 (from the blue tees) and you can barely see any of the green let alone the flag. This happened on a few holes, where you couldn’t see the green from your approach shot and only saw the tip of the flag stick.
I played the previous course at this location just a few times before it was closed and comparatively, this course has far fewer trees and I don’t remember the previous course having this type of rough. Holes #1 and #18 are basically the same as the previous course.
This course vaguely reminds me of Chambers Bay because the rough is brown with fescue and sticky bushes that you just want to stay out of. Both are links style courses without trees.
Unlike Chambers, there is hardly an elevation change at Baylands. Baylands is an extremely flat course. This course is walkable, yet seemed to not be made with walkers in mind. A number of holes had no mown grassy areas from the tee box straight down to the fairway. Because of the prickly rough, the players are inclined to walk over to the cart path and take the longer route to get to the fairway.
The fairways, greens and tee boxes were in good shape.
The course has its challenges with hidden greens and water hazards that cross the fairway.
The greens run medium speed (not slow nor fast), have some breaks and tiers. These greens would classify as easy in my book.
Has plenty of good bathrooms (with running water) on the course and water stations.
We could always use another course on the peninsula.
It has a great short game area (free) for chipping and putting. Also, it has a range ($10/medium bucket) with new mats.
Easy to lose errant balls in the rough.
The rough is low brush, some have thorns which scratch your legs. Some rough is dry or soggy creek beds.
The tee boxes have squishy thick grass. This seemed to cause problems with teeing the ball to the proper height.
While there isn’t a lot of visible standing water, there are misquotes and other bugs, which bite, especially in the early morning (in June).
The bunkers are thick with deep sand so it’s actually quite challenging to get out of.
[UPDATE 9/15/2018] – Eagle Indoor has re-opened in their new location! The indoor range sessions begin on October 10, 2018. Subscribe to their meetup.com group for future dates.
Join me for a monthly mini-meet at Eagle Indoor Golf, every 2nd Wednesday of the month to meet other women golfers.
This is for all abilities, you don’t even need clubs! Newbies are welcome. Clubs are provided or you can bring your own. It’s $15 for two hours to swing at the range or play a virtual course with others. Drinks and snacks are available for purchase at the event. Post a comment below if you’ll be joining next month!
Made up a game to mimic tournament pressure on our putting game, “$1/hole skins for putts”.
For each hole, count number of putts (chip putting doesn’t count) per player.
Lowest number of putts on a single hole gets $1 from everyone else.
If everyone has same number of putts, no money is exchanged.
Shots and chips leading up to the putting has no impact on who owes who money.
The friend who joined me in this match at San Juan Oaks is a 5 handicap and I’m a 29 – over the 18 holes I held my own and only owed him $4 at the end of the round! Two inches more on the final hole and I would have owed him $5. Thankfully the greens were on the fast side – I putt better with fast greens.
Played from the forward tees again, without my caddie-friend though, and barely squeezed in under 100. The best accomplishment this weekend was a compliment from someone who I golfed with 6 months ago. He said there was a very noticeable improvement in contact with the ball and commented, “keep up the good work!”
The newest strategy is to work with clubs that my GameGolf is reporting as most accurate (5h over 5W, 8i over 9i, and PW over UW/56/60*). So I built a spreadsheet to plan out the round using only those clubs (where possible) even if it means adding a shot to a par 4. So instead of hitting my 5W for a 160 yard approach shot, I’ll hit two PW shots. For a 200 yard approach shot, I’ll hit my 8i twice. I call this strategy “Halvsies” because I’m splitting a long shot into half.
This strategy means:
Less errant shots
If they do go off target they don’t go off by as much
More practice with my irons on all types of shots
Learning what a 50, 60, 70 yard shot feels like with a PW
Less high risk shots (hitting wood off a bad lie)
Not trying to hit the green from 160 yards out and scoring range is now in the < 100 yard distance where it should be.
Over the last three rounds using this strategy, my gamegolf shows the short game improvement over the prior 11 rounds. And “better short game” = “better putting” because you get on the green and closer to the hole (more controlled shots).
Every golfer dreams of going lower – Making birdies, reducing 3 putts, breaking 70, breaking 80… for me it was breaking 100. And it finally happened at the most unexpected of places, Bandon Dunes Old MacDonald course. I wanted something special to remember the day. To commemorate my first birdies, I saved the ball that made the magic happen and wrote the date on them.
A ball marker or bag tag from the course seemed appropriate, and then I was told that their ball marker could be engraved (stamped actually) onsite. How perfect is that?!
Old MacDonald, Bandon Dunes Ball Marker
Ball marker engraved with low score
Two years in the making.
The first time my score dropped significantly (from 140’s to 120’s) was after 10 days of only practicing short game about a year ago. I had come close to breaking 100 once or twice over the last year. Last year, I decided to start playing from the white tees (slope of 124-136) instead of the forward tees. I was driving 180 so I certainly had the length for the whites and could hit GIRs on par 3s from the Whites.
A curious thing I noticed is it seemed like I would get about the same score (hovering just above 100) no matter if I played from an easier slope tees or harder. I like to think playing from the higher slope tees has led to my improved golf game.
Pacific Dunes, Bandon Dunes Golf Course
Bandon Trails, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
So how did breaking 100 happen? I decided to have fun and play from the forward Orange tees at Bandon so I could take in all the sights and sounds of the beautiful course with less focus on the game. I played Pacific Dunes and Bandon Trails in one day on Monday. I started out playing horrible, but by the end of the 36 holes I was feeling a little more loose, and even had a 275 yard drive (courtesy of rolling down a hill). My caddie (my best friend) was icing on the cake for getting a low score. Surprisingly, I was making tons of GIRs, which I didn’t do often playing from the whites. I even drove the green on a par 4 (wind behind me).
Enjoying the GIRs, I decided to play from Orange at Old MacDonald the next day. It’s an easier slope than the previous two days courses and the combination of slope + having two rounds of practice paid off. With a huge thanks to my caddie for the club selection and targets, I signed my card with a 93.
Chambers Bay is home to the 2015 US Open. This link style course was built in an old quarry along the Puget sound. I had the privileged of caddying for a friend who was playing in the Golf Channel Am Tour Pacific Northwest Championship this past weekend. These are my thoughts on the course.
Challenging course; wide fairways, however, there is only a narrow space where you can it so the ball does not run away; good ball placement is a must to stay out of Dunes; the greens are undulated and it’s easy for the ball to run off the greens or to be on a different level than the pin.
One drive-able par 4.
Many of the par 3’s have elevated tee boxes from the green.
There are a lot of tee box options, which make it a different course every time you play it.
All holes have good views of the Puget Sound.
The range, short game area with bunker and putting green are a 2 minute shuttle ride down into the quarry from the clubhouse.
#1 and 10 tee box are at range/short game area down in the quarry.
No trees or bushes (no shade) on course, except for one lone fir.
Walking only course. Pull carts available.
Easy to find ball in the fescue. Fescue in the socks is prickly/itchy.
A couple greens are in really bad shape (never recovered from aeration). The greens seem to have an algae infestation and are fescue. They are slow.
No water hazards on the course.
Long walk up a hill between 3 green and 4 tee box, but they provide a shuttle.
A few holes are an uphill climb.
Pace of play is important and they have marshals to keep people on pace.
Caddies are available for hire.
No beverage cart. There are two snack bars with bathrooms (at the turn (#1&10) and then another one at tee box # 4/12/15)
The clubhouse has a small, decent menu. A better place to eat seafood is Duke’s (about 30 mins from course).
For those without a tee time, it’s $25 for all day practice facilities.
Recommend checking the dress code policy on their website as it’s detailed.
Overall: I’d wait till the greens are blown up and converted from fescue to poa annua in a couple years before going to this course.