First round of golf for me since July of 2021! Let’s see how this went.

I started off my 2022 golfing journey at Oak Hills Golf Course in Norwalk, CT, which is a nice 10-15 drive away. I will be frequenting this course often. With my schedule, my travel softball days are over, so there will be more golf in my future and I am going to make a commitment to get better.

This is a fairly short golf course, but one that is fun because you will not be hitting driver on every par four. The back is much longer than the front, so have to keep up some breath of stamina as you close out.

I went out solo this past weekend, which mean that I was paired with people I did not know. As it turns out, I was partnered with three young men; two graduate students from Temple and a high school senior who is a D1 commit in some sport. They saw that I worked at Barstool, so I immediately got some sort of credibility. I was happy to see that they seemed easy going and they laughed at themselves, which is what I need on the course.

The hilarious thing is that they were freezing their ass off, and they were starving. I layered up both on the legs and up top, and I packed some nuts and a sandwich to keep myself fueled. I needed it because I was walking the course, which I much prefer to do when riding when it is an option.

One other thing about my first golfing expedition of 2022…the course was not in the best of shape. I was not expecting excellence by any means knowing it is March and it had rained the day before, but the tee boxes were off limits and hole three didn’t use the green, but rather a makeshift hole on the short fairway of the par three. So, chop a couple yards off these lengths and add in there was zero roll out on any shots.

I, for the record, am not good at golf. When I played consistently, I usually got in around the mid 90s. My record is 89, which I got twice on back-to-back days back in 2020. Those were a two glorious days.

Now is my quest to get to that level again. Last summer I did not play a lot with a new job and personal obligations. This summer, now in a routine, I will do the best I can to make golf a consistent thing in my life.

Now here is my first round of 2022, at Oak Hills Golf Course where it was a brisk 42 degrees at tee-off.

Hole 1
Par 4 | 374 Yards

First shot of the new year…was a good one. A drive that actually went past the fairway length. I even got it on the green in two. But then putting comes into play. It took my four putts to get the ball in the hole from about 35 feet away. That is not going to get it done. You can ask anyone who has played with me…my putting is not the best part of my game. Getting a six on my first hole since July is honestly okay by me, but the four putts are very bad.

It was nice showing the guys I was with that I was not terrible though.

Score On Hole: 6 (4 Putts)
Handicap: 3
Score Overall: 6 (+2)


Hole 2
Par 4 | 295 Yards

Don’t remember much about this hole because this was a classic Stanko hole. Drive was a little off course, then it took me a couple to get on the green. Had a long putt for bogey but got it to within five feet and I was able to hit that second putt for a six again.

Score On Hole: 6 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 9
Score Overall: 12 (+4)


Hole 3
Par 3 | 109 Yards

This was the hole where the green was not in use and they used the makeshift hole on the short fairway. It was a shot with a sand wedge, and if you are short you are in a pond…and if you are long, then you are on a cliff that is not a backboard at all. It is fulled with fescue type grass and rocks.

I skulled my sand wedge a bit and it went onto the not-so-nice hill behind the makeshift hole. In arguably one of my best shots of the day, I chipped off the hill, landed it just off the green and had it role to within ten feet for a par putt. I did not make the par putt (I blame the fairway green which was MUCH slower than I anticipated) so i ended with a four. A good bogey save in my book.

Score On Hole: 4 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 17
Score Overall: 16 (+5)


Hole 4
Par 4 | 307 Yards

This par four is one of the more unique looking holes on Oak Hills course. You tee off elevated, then the fairway dips a bit and you have no room to the right at all. The green is elevated and tucked a bit to the right so if you can aim left side of the fairway you are in better shape.

I did not do that. Well I tried to. I aimed left because that is what my banana slice does, but ONE FUCKING TWIG on a tree shot my ball down from the sky and It dropped only like 75 yards in front of the tee box. Not great. A three iron and pitching wedge later, I am putting from the fringe, and once again I hopped back on the double bogey train.

Score On Hole: 6 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 5
Score Overall: 22 (+7)


Hole 5
Par 3 | 174 Yards

Elevated par three with a MASSIVE green. I took out a four iron and landed it just off the green to the left, where the flag was more situated. I then proceeded to chicken out on my chip and I left it about 10 feet short. Two putts later I am in with a four. Overall, really not a terrible hole. I am not too confident being pinpoint with my longer irons, but this hole the four iron treated me okay.

This was also a great example of how I just don’t hit the ball very fall at all. I am self aware. The three guys I am with are talking about six irons and seven irons, meanwhile I know my own swing and I need the help.

Score On Hole: 4 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 15
Score Overall: 26 (+8)


Hole 6
Par 4 | 304 Yards

Well, here is the first blow up hole.

The tee box was moved up like 25 yards which made the first shot somewhat difficult for club choice based off length of the fairway, etc. I could not do driver, so I aimed to do a short eight iron to try and get another short iron layup onto the green. Things did not go that way.

My eight iron off the tee box went into the water that was about 25 yards forward, so not a great start. I take me drop and I am about 200 yards away from the green. My mental strength lapses and I try do get on the green with a three iron but that ends poorly. I bleed left and lose another ball into the woods. Another drop and I hit a pitching wedge over the green.

I am chipping from terrible rough about 30 yards away with my sixth stroke, but I hit an awesome shot that rolls about seven feet from the hole. I one putt and get a seven. A hole where I made a mess even worse by trying to compensate for a mistake. Can’t be doing that. However a seven looks and feels much better on the scorecard than an eight.

Score On Hole: 7 (1 Putt)
Handicap: 13
Score Overall: 33 (+11)


Hole 7
Par 4 | 336 Yards

What a good bounce back hole for your boy. I am talking about myself. A good drive, shot just short of the green. Chip to about 10-15 feet away, and a two-putt from there and I get a five. This was just what the doctor ordered after a blow-up hole. Got back on the right mental track.

Score On Hole: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 7
Score Overall: 38 (+12)


Hole 8
Par 5 | 484 Yards

First par five of the day, and it ends up being my first (and only) par of the afternoon. I hit a rather terrible drive that bleeds way far left and i am stuck on the edge of OB about 300 yards away from the hole. In a fantastic punch out effort, I hit a low screaming three iron that curls back into the fairway and I am not about 185 out from the green. Yes, I know my distance is not very long, but so be it.

I keep my three iron…and I hit a rather awful worm burner. But i hit it straight. I miss it straight. The shot ends up rolling perfectly up the fairway, up onto the green. Suddenly I am on the green in regulation with a 15 foot putt for birdie. Now I am a stupid baby who left a birdie putt a few feet short, but a tap-in for par after a really bad tee shot makes me very happy.

Score On Hole: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 11
Score Overall: 43 (+12)


Hole 9
Par 4 | 440 Yards

I wish I could have ended the front nine on a high note…but I did not.

I got a seven to end my front nine and the worst stretch of my round has begun. The most stressful part of this hole was that I had a great tee shot. i was in the fairway in regulation…for the first time of the day! Still I managed to hit a very wary second shot that went nowhere I wanted, and it was a duff chip, then another one, then some putts. Lost my focus. Got too happy on the par and couldn’t keep the momentum going.

Score On Hole: 7 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 1
Score Overall: 50 (+15)


Hole 10
Par 5 | 528 Yards

The longest hole on the course and I made a mangled mess of it AFTER hitting the fairway in regulation again. From here I learned I need to get better at my second shots. Maybe this is where the rust comes into play? My woods were bad, and this hole they really let me down. I didn’t want to hit a three iron because it would have left me short, but who am I to reach the green in two anyway? Know your strengths and your swing, Stanko.

On this hole i got my worst score of the day, a legit eight. A snowman. I didn’t even lose a ball on this hole. Just bad shots after bad shots. Three putts at the end of it did not help the cause either, that is for sure.

Score On Hole: 8 (3 Putts)
Handicap: 4
Score Overall: 58 (+18)


Hole 11
Par 4 | 365 Yards

Alright…maybe time to get back on track. I hit my third fairway in a row and I am feeling…okay. From there it is classic “not being able to string things together.” I get it up around the green after curling my drive just where it needed to be, but what I could not do was chip properly. A chip I left short leaves me with a tweener just on the edge of the rough, and so I try to be gentle with that but I skull it. Now I am 20 feet past the hole, and so two putts later I am getting another six.

Score On Hole: 6 (3 Putts)
Handicap: 10
Score Overall: 64 (+20)


Hole 12
Par 5 | 501 Yards

In case you can’t tell, the back nine is a lot longer than the front. That can lead to some disastrous things. However, the mess on this hole, I am not entirely sure if it is my fault.

I hit a drive into the fairway…a fourth time in a row! I hit my three iron and it bleeds a little left so I am in the midst of some trees. I am about 125 out of the green so I punch out with my pitching wedge. Now my head is down and I don’t see where the ball goes after it gets through all of the shit. I heard it hit one twig, but a small one, so it had to get out there somewhere.

The people I was playing with where all way ahead of me and did not watch me hit, so they had no idea where my ball went. I looked in the vicinity of where I thought it should have gone, but didn’t see anything. So I took a drop, and frustration set in a bit. Partially because I wish I didn’t get into that shit in the first place for my third shot, but also I wish the people I was playing with didn’t speed up in their carts and not keep an eye out. I got a seven on this hole, still better than a couple of the boys, but they couldn’t be bothered.

Score On Hole: 7 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 8
Score Overall: 71 (+22)


Hole 13
Par 3 | 154 Yards

I hate bunkers. HATE THEM.

The front of the green was about 130 yards and it is a downhill hole. I took out a pitching wedge and it went about a 135…but it was a little right and it ended up in a long bunker.

The sand is hard, compact, and calamity filled. I took me far too much time to get out of there. Like, four strokes. I hate bunkers.

Luckily I one-putted it to salvage a SIX on a par three after a tee shot that felt good. Just a disheartening stuff.

Score On Hole: 6 (1 Putt)
Handicap: 18
Score Overall: 77 (+25)


Hole 14
Par 4 | 406 Yards

This was the first hole that I played fully solo. From here on out, it was just me on the course. The three young men that I was playing with left after the par three because they were cold and they wanted coffee. I was not upset about this. It allowed me to play a bit slower.

So this hole I hit a drive that does not curl back at all and I end up in the woods on the right. A lost ball later and I punch out to the left and am not 75 yards out of the green. This is the world distance. What the hell do I hit from here? I take out a sand wedge and try and get the distance right. I get it onto the green and two put later so again…it is a six. I was really riding the double-bogey train today.

Score On Hole: 6 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 2
Score Overall: 83 (+27)


Hole 15
Par 3 | 205 Yards

So after my last par three debacle, I needed a good score. I typically do not do well on the 200+ par threes, but I have grown to just embrace that I do not hit the ball terribly far…so driver here I come.

I take out my driver and I hit it PERFECT distance, pin high. I am not on the green however, I am about 3 yards to the left of it. I chip onto the green and a two-putt later I am writing down a bogey. This is a nice bounce back from the tragedy of hole 13.

Score On Hole: 4 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 12
Score Overall: 87 (+28)


Hole 16
Par 4 | 342 Yards

I hate myself for ruining a good drive. Really hate it.

I piped this one down the center of the fairway and I was about 135 out of a green that is elevated. I took out an eight iron and I landed a bit short of the green and it rolled down the hill so now I had to chip up. I did chip, I got on the green, but got zero roll out because I didn’t take into account the amount of slope I was hitting into so I was left with 25 feet. I proceeded to three-putt and I ended up with a six.

This is a whole that when I am playing better (hopefully), I will get a five one consistently.

Score On Hole: 6 (3 Putts)
Handicap: 6
Score Overall: 93 (+30)


Hole 17
Par 4 | 336 Yards

On hole 17 I hit a provisional because I did not see where my first drive went, even though it felt good. Turns out my first drive went 15 yards further than my second drive and I had drove past the fairway and landed in some swampy stuff. The wetness affected my approach and so I ended up on the green putting for bogey. Two puts later I am writing down a six. I am really upset that after such a MONSTER drive it took my that long to get in the hole. I need to learn that how to hit out of wet stuff and bad conditions…but one thing at a time.

Score On Hole: 6 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 14
Score Overall: 99 (+32)


Hole 18
Par 4 | 341 Yards

This hole, legit the last hole, was the only hole I took a mulligan off the tee on. It was the only one. I was so close to not using one.

But let’s be real, we all want to use a good drive on our lost hole.

So after my second drive, which I am counting as my first, I lay up in front of the green so I have a nice little bump and run. This is what good Stanko golf is. Decent drive, solid approach (but not good), a chip to get it onto the green, and then attempt at putting. Luckily I was able to get it in the hole in two putts, so I ended my day with a bogey. I will take that every day of the week and twice on my first round since July 2021.

SCORE: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 16
Score Overall: 104 (+33)


FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Fun fact, I thought I shot a 103 but it was actually a 104, so that is not great. But still, don’t hate where I was at. I had a good time.
  • I had 19 putts on the front nine, and 19 putts on the back nine. While it is not great, it is consistent.
  • I only had three hole with more than three or more putts. The four putts on the first hole sucks.
  • I hit two greens in regulation…one hole one and hole eight. That has to improve.
  • I hit five fairways…and had four in a row from holes nine to 12. It is hilarious that during those holes I played my worst golf. Second shots doomed me.
  • Golf is a blast, and I am happy to be back out there.

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