We start this round of golf at Gator Trace Golf Club with some drama. My girlfriend and I are all excited because we are going to go golfing together for the first time ever. Emma has never been on a course, and she has agreed to come out with my and my dad’s friends for the experience and to see if she has any interest in the hobby. We are all excited and good to go when my dad gets a phone call from someone within the crew that there is not enough room for my girlfriend and I.

We know for a fact that is a lie. My dad is stressing out about it, but with reassurances from other members golfing this day, Emma and I arrive at Gator Trace with smiles.

Said man who said that there was no room for my girlfriend but that she could join us for lunch after…he greeted us with a smile. Kill them with kindness. Just smile and wave boys, just smile and wave.

Emma and I are teeing off as a threesome with a great man by the name of Pat. A dear friend of my recently passed grandfather, he was the perfect companion for Emma and I. He was easy going and wonderfully kind to Emma when she was practicing around the green. Pat, if you are reading this, thank you.

I had never played Gator Trace before this day, but I had heard great things that about it. There is tons of wildlife, including gators. This has Emma excited, and I entered the round hoping to see dome dinosaurs while playing as well.

Now let’s see how I did in my eighth round of the year.


Hole 1
Par 4 | 294 Yards

First tee of the day. Here we go. It is a short par four but there is water to the right to look out for. Naturally, which my slice, I aim for the water, and it works out great. It fades back, not as much as I thought, but it finds the fairway. The drive only went about 190 yards, so I a little over 100 to the pin, which is in the back left.

I hit a pitching wedge incredible thin and my approach shot sails over the green and I am having to chip to give myself a par putt. It is a short chip, and those typically don’t work well for me. Rather than landing the ball in front of the hole and letting it roll out nicely, I land it at the hole so it goes rolling about 20 feet past. Not ideal.

I get educated on the slow greens on this putt as I love an uphill par putt a bit too short. It is three feet for bogey and I make it. We start out with a five. I will take 18 holes of that, thank you.

SCORE: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 15
Score Overall: 5 (+1)


Hole 2
Par 4 | 308 Yards

Hole two is a straight dogleg left. it turns about 90 degrees. You have to cross some water to get to the first part of the fairway which is about 180 yards away. From there it is direct left to the green.

Thinking that I am going to keep with my traditional banana hook drive, I aim dead straight and hope the shape of my shot lends to me nicely.

Well I don’t hit a banana hook. I hit it dead straight. I hit an absolute missile dead straight into houses. I truly hope that I did not ruin anyones home.

So after my first los ball of the day, I drop it hit an approach shot that lands over the green again. I am hitting my pitching wedge strong today I guess. It is chip and a two putt for a double-bogey six. Besides the lost ball, this was a typical Stanko hole.

SCORE: 6 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 9
Score Overall: 11 (+3)


Hole 3
Par 4 | 341 Yards

First note that I have about this hole is that I had a terrible three putt. I missed a gimme putt. It should have been a par, but instead it was a bogey. Brutal.

This hole was shaped a bit of a dog leg right. I extended the whole a smidge with my drive landing on the left half of the fairway. I got it onto the green in regulation, but just missed some putts.

Cool thing about this whole was that it was the first one that Emma took some clubs out on. She did some chipping and practiced some putting. Was very funny with the putting because the first putt was too short, second one was too long. A classic problem that everyone has encountered on the golf course.

SCORE: 5 (3 Putts)
Handicap: 3
Score Overall: 16 (+4)


Hole 4
Par 4 | 331 Yards

We are starting the ride on the bogey train, and bogey golf is good golf.

I had a monster drive that went 225+ and again found the fairway. I had a nine iron or pitching wedge into the green, but I tugged it a bit to the right. From there it was a chip and two putt, classic Stanko hole.

Really nothing too much to right home to on this one. The drive set me up for success and from there it was standard par for the course.

SCORE: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 11
Score Overall: 21 (+5)


Hole 5
Par 4 | 330 Yards

This hole I took a three iron hybrid off of the the tee. It was the first time I was hitting the club, so was just hoping it was be salvageable.

I hit the hole ball well but it as in the right side rough. I had to hit it under some low hanging palm trees, and in the process I skinned by seven iron and it went left of the green into some more nasty looking trees and roots.

This was one of those things where I looked for the ball a smidge, but didn’t wanna hold up play. I dropped a ball in some shit, and I purposely gave myself a tough shot because I didn’t wanna give myself a stroke because the ball was not out of play, it could have been found if I searched more than one minute.

I need to hit my third shot from the rough, through trees, over a sand trap. I really set myself up for failure. My shot comes out WAY TO HOT, but it hits a leaf of a palm tree and all of a sudden I am on the green with a chance for par. Is it kinda cheap? Maybe. But my argument is this: Emma found my ball in the thicket when she drove the cart to go to the bathroom., I was about 20 feet further than where I hit my third shot from, and I had an easier look at the green.

So I gave myself a harder shot, still ended up with a bogey. Don’t feel bad about it.

SCORE: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 13
Score Overall: 26 (+6)


Hole 6
Par 4 | 307 Yards

I have had three straight holes with a five. Can we make it four?

I miss the fairway for a second straight hole, but I hit my drive well and it just hooked onto the left side rough, so I really don’t deem it too bad. The drive went about 210 yards, so I took out my eight iron hitting out of the rough. If I recall correctly, I land a bit short of the green, so it is time for the Texas wedge game.

I hit one from off the green and get it to within five feet, so I have a chance for my first par!

I miss the putt. It is my second three-putt of the day. I am writing down another five as we head to the hardest hole on the front nine.

SCORE: 5 (3 Putts)
Handicap: 17
Score Overall: 31 (+7)


Hole 7
Par 4 | 383 Yards

This is the first one two-straight longer par fours. I don’t make life easier for myself when I absolutely NUKE a ball about 20 yards right of the fairway over trees and into a neighborhood community. I really worry that I killed someone on a sidewalk.

I mean hit this drive beautifully, but much like hole two, it went dead fucking straight. It can have been used as a perfect linear example in an elementary school math class.

So I am dropping near an electricity box in the right side rough. I first grab a five iron and am looking to hit a low flier out of the rough just enough to cover creek that is in front of the green.

But then I change my mind. I actually play it smart. Good job by me., I just pitch it out and give myself a clean fourth shot. So it is PW chip out, PW full shot and then two putt for a double-bogey six.

This hole was nerve-wracking off the tee because you are lined by houses for the first 100 yards.

SCORE: 6 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 1
Score Overall: 37 (+9)


Hole 8
Par 4 | 390 Yards

Guess what. We have a birdie!! And not just the animal, but also the score!

It is a fairly straight par four. I hit an excellent drive down the center of the fairway and I have myself a slightly downhill eight iron shot. The practice swings are good, so I step up. The pin is the back left, and all I am hoping for is on the green.

Folks. I put this ball about six feet from the pin and I tuck the ball INSIDE the back left portion of the green! It was about 10 feet between hole and green, and I stuck it in that gap. I’ll be damned, it was a professional ass golf shot.

I take out my putter and BANG! One-putt this sucker to put a three on the scoreboard.

Emma also ventured out and tried to hit a ball off the fairway this hole. She hit a ground ball, but it did go forward and we did not lose the ball so that is progress!

SCORE: 3 (1 Putt)
Handicap: 5
Score Overall: 40 (+8)


Hole 9
Par 3 | 147 Yards

On the ninth hole we found ourselves looking at about 150 yard par three over water.

I take out an eight iron, and after the confidence of my birdie on hole eight, I want to get this one close. And if we are being honest, we kinda do.

I hit the perfect distance, but I am just one yard onto the fringe and about 20 feet from the hole. I would hav loved to Texas wedge this, but there was a sewer grate or something of that variety in my way. I have to take my actual pitching wedge and try for a gentle chip. Dare I say, I kinda do it? It is a shot I am not very comfortable with, but I did not make a mess of it.

From there it is a two-putt and we have a bogey on the scorecard.

SCORE: 4 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 7
Score Overall: 44 (+9)


Hole 10
Par 5 | 435 Yards

We start the back nine with our only par five on the course. We have refueled, used the restroom and are ready to take on the second half.

This par five had the wind DIRECTLY in our face. Not good. Don’t like it. My drive, I hit it well, but it doesn’t get all the distance I need. I need a good second shot to get me in close to the green…AND BY GOLLY DO IT DO IT! Holy shit balls I really do. I absolutely roast a three iron hybrid and it fades from front right of the green to directly in front of the green.

I chip onto the green. We have a green in regulation!! It is my third of the day…and there are more to come. I played some fucking golf today.

I two putt from about 30 feet away and I write down a par on the scorecard. I am playing some damn good golf right now.

SCORE: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 16
Score Overall: 49 (+9)


Hole 11
Par 4 | 413 Yards

So we are just going in order of numbers here. Had a three on hole eight, a four on hole nine, a five on hole 10 and a six here on hole 11.

I had a good drive that went about 220 yards. It is a long par four, so I decided to try and hit my three iron hybrid in onto the green. The stupid thing I didn’t take into account was that there is water all along the right side of the green, and there is no wiggle room behind the green either. So don’t hit the ball back right. That would be bad.

I drop in the rough between two bunkers for my fourth shot. My pitching wedge does well and then there is the two-putt for a score of a six.

This was the last ball that I lost on the day. It was the last penalty stroke. I only had three of them today. By far the the lowest number of my three rounds in Florida.

SCORE: 6 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 2
Score Overall: 55 (+11)


Hole 12
Par 4 | 329 Yards

WORST HOLE OF THE DAY.

I blame myself for not having enough snacks.

Had a good drive and a solid enough second shot for me. I was around the green. Not in a great position, but I was around the hole.

I have a chip for my third shot, and I just blast it past the hole and it goes into the rough on the other side of the green. I then decided to just play wack-a-mole with my putter for four strokes. My first putt goes 20 feet past the hole. My second putt comes up about 10 feet short. Then I two putt from there.

I had four putts. It is the first two two times I had four putts on the round. This was the highest score I recorded on the day.

I felt bad for Emma on this one. I needed a bounce back.

SCORE: 7 (4 Putts)
Handicap: 8
Score Overall: 62 (+14)


Hole 13
Par 3 | 157 Yards

The good thing about the 13th hole is that it is right next to the 12th hole so I had a very quick turn around. And it is a par three. It should a good score.

I take out a six iron, but i tug it. It is flying into the trees and dangerously leaning towards the water. I did now know where my ball was when i was driving up. Thankfully, Emma had very good eyes and she found my ball underneath a palm branch. I was in the thicket, so I just needed to punch out and get it on the green anywhere.

I punch it out in the lane where I have the widest berth. It may have been like 30 feet from the hole, but it was the smart thing to do.

It is a five. It is a double-bogey. Not the best bounce-back hole.

SCORE: 5 (3 Putts)
Handicap: 10
Score Overall: 67 (+16)


Hole 14
Par 4 | 304 Yards

Hole 14 could have been so much better than it was. And with that being said, it was a five.

The hole is divided in half by a creek, so you either have the courage to go over it or you lay up. The creek was about 190 away and it stretched to 210 away on its slant, so I didn’t trust my drive to get over it. I decided to lay up. You know, the smart decision.

For the layup to be considered a smart decision I need to hit an okay approach shot. I did not. For the first time, and only time all weekend, I took out my four iron hybrid.

DUFFFF-A-ROONEY!!!!

UGHHHHH.

Thank god I didn’t go into the water. I take me third shot from about 90 yards out with a pitching wedge. I hit a good shot, but it rolls off the green on the back right edge and hits the rough.

I am starting over this chip on my fourth shot. I look at my girlfriend and I tell her that I want to hit this shot so it goes into the ridge, then trickles down the left slanting hill towards the green.

In my best chip of the day, I do that exactly. Emma thought I was good at golf for a second. It is a tap in bogey. I go running away from the hole with a bogey after a duffed second shot.

SCORE: 5 (1 Putt)
Handicap: 6
Score Overall: 72 (+17)


Hole 15
Par 4 | 310 Yards

I hit a fairway on this hole, but it means absolutely nothing. I had a horrendous second and third short. Two different approach shots.

I had to do a chip, and then two putt for a double bogey. Don’t have a done of things to say about this hole expect that I felt myself waining and I should have realized it faster before my next hole.

SCORE: 6 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 14
Score Overall: 78 (+19)


Hole 16
Par 4 | 354 Yards

Uhhhhh, this hole was a roller coaster.

My streak of six straight fairways in regulation came to an end on this hole. Turns out if you hit your drive only 50 yards on the ground, it doesn’t get you where you need to be.

I am on the right side, hugging a river but luckily not in it. I and a wayyyy aways, so I take out my 3 iron hybrid to get closer. Mission accomplished there. I have about 150 in for my third shot so i take out my six iron and hit it atrociously. Like thin, slicing right away, very bad. Luckily I had aimed toward the right because that is where the flag was.

Now far away from the hole, I have a good chip on, and then I two putt for a double bogey.

This is not a good hole. This hole ruined by aspirations for under 90. It was officially dead at this point for me.

SCORE: 6 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 4
Score Overall: 84 (+21)


Hole 17
Par 3 | 128 Yards

The final par three on the course. It is a short 128 yard shot but you have to clear water. There is no bones about it. Water all along the left side and front left portion of the green.

I bladed a nine iron so I ended up on the deep fringe while the hole was located in the front. Not a ideal set up.

So all you want to do is get it close, but I decided to take me sweet as time with this 60+ plus putt. I only hit it about 30 feet my first putt because I thought the down hill was much more severe than it really was. My next putt I just don’t get it close enough for a gimme, so now I am writing down a four putt on a par three with a score of a five.

Not the best momentum heading into the last hole.

SCORE: 5 (4 Putts)
Handicap: 18
Score Overall: 89 (+23)


Hole 18
Par 4 | 284 Yards

Ending with a par is such a good feeling. It is remarkable. It is a very short hole to end it, so you need to put a drive in play. I hit my drive into the fairway 225 yards, leaving myself with a nice bump and run opportunity onto the green. It was a two-tier green so my goal was to just get it onto the top tier anyway. My attempt with my pitching wedge is looking good, but I bounce it about 2 yards too short, so it goes partially up the hill to the top tier, but drops back down. Still, I am on the green in two putting for birdie. Really hard for me to be disappointed. I take out my putter and hit a pretty damn good putt, getting myself to within three feet of the cup. Pat was offering me the gimme, but I had to finish it out.

Bang. It hits the bottom of the cup. We are ending with a par. Was super eager to write this one on the scorecard.

SCORE: 4 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 12
Score Overall: 93 (+23)


FINAL THOUGHTS

  • This is the best round of golf I have had since late 2020 summer when I had back-to-back scores of 89. I admit that Gator Trace was an easier course, but still this was a remarkable achievement for me. I played good golf and I hit good shots.
  • Having my girlfriend there was a huge help because it kept me calm and it honestly kept me thinking about other things besides golf. I was not in my head, I was having conversations and helping her when I could. Pat also helped because he was dispensing grandfatherly jokes non-stop.
  • Have to love that we saw gators. Glad that we got to see three tiny little gators. Emma also got to see a TON of birds and some big turtles as well. The wildlife did not disapoint.
  • I hit 10 fairways on the day. 10. And this is on a course that had three par threes; that means of the 15 holes of golf that I needed to hit the short grass, I hit it 66% of the time. Easily the best I have ever done. This means it was back-to-back rounds in Florida where my driver was working.
    • How about the early 2000s Big Bertha driver doing magic? It is funny because my dad’s friends all play Big Bertha drivers too, but theirs are slightly more modern.
  • Putting still a bit of a disaster. The greens at Gator Trace were slow, so I did have some nice one-putts, including on my birdie. However, I also had two four-putts on the back nine. Unacceptable. Stuff like that needs to improve. 41 total putts is not great. Five about what I would ideally like.
  • YEA, I GOT A BIRDIE!!! Let’s go!!!
  • A HUGE, and I mean HUGE part of me shooting well is that I had ZERO shots from any sand traps. I completely whiffed on the sand traps. Didn’t need to hit anything from the beach. Thank god I didn’t have to because I don’t know if I cold embarrass myself in front of my girlfriend like that.
  • I shot a 44 on the front, and I have to be honest, I had terrible thoughts of breaking 90. I let it creep in my head. But still a 49 on the back is acceptable for me.
  • It was a really good day on the golf course. I had a really good time. I am glad that Emma did as well.

GATOR TRACE GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB

8/4/22 Score
#1 | Par 45 (2 Putts)
#2 | Par 46 (2 Putts)
#3 | Par 45 (3 Putts)
#4 | Par 45 (2 Putts)
#5 | Par 45 (2 Putts)
#6 | Par 45 (2 Putts)
#7 | Par 46 (3 Putts)
#8 | Par 43 (1 Putt)
#9 | Par 34 (2 Putts)
#10 | Par 55 (2 Putts)
#11 | Par 46 (2 Putts)
#12 | Par 47 (4 Putts)
#13 | Par 35 (3 Putts)
#14 | Par 45 (1 Putt)
#15 | Par 44 (2 Putts)
#16 | Par 46 (2 Putts)
#17 | Par 36 (4 Putts)
#18 | Par 45 (2 Putts)
Total93 (+23) | 41 Putts, 10 FIR, 5 GIR

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