The last time I played at Van Cortlandt Park it was about three years ago and it was the first time I broke 90. I shot an 89 that day, and then followed it up with an 89 the following day at Pelham Bay. That was when I was playing the best golf of my life.

This time around in the Bronx, my golf game is not nearly where it was back then but I was convinced I needed to (and could) do better than the 112 I shot last time out at Fairwinds Golf Course. That was not indicative of how I golf. Needed a bounce back, big time.

This time around I went out golfing with my co-workers Brian and Stefan. We played a random guy named Rob. Rob was a good dude. We liked Rob.

Brian is relatively new to golf and he easily wins the Most Improved Player award. As the round progressed, so did Brian’s confidence. He learned to aim 45 degrees to the left directly into the woods and then his drives began finding the fairway. He doesn’t slice the ball, but rather he just hits it at a 45 degree angle so he pushes it that way. He worked with his swing, definitely over the back nine.

Stefan on the other hand, was DEALING! He ended up shooting in the mid 80s and had some unbelievable shots. By far the best player in the group, Stefan was able to shoot a great score while borrowing rented clubs and then using Brian’s driver. He may just buy Brian’s driver off of him. Credit to Stefan. He hasn’t played a lot of golf in YEARS, but he still has the skill he developed in high school as a golf team member.

Now let’s see how I did in my 10th round of the year.


Hole 1
Par 4 | 310 Yards

Yes, breakfast balls do exist in my world. There are no warm up grounds at Van Cortlandt park, in any capacity, so yes, I took a breakfast ball.

I was very nervous for this day when both my super shitty first drive, as well as my second drive that counted, did not get in the air. I started the round with two worm burners. Ground scorchers. Ouchy mama.

However, as bad as a drive it was…it counted as a fairway in regulation, barely.

My second shot is a complete skulling. I hit it thinner than Christian Bale in The Machinist. It goes flying over the green and near the second hole tee box where a group of three gentleman are waiting to tee off. God damnit. Brutal.

I have about a gap that is 15 feet wide and 10 feet tall. The green runs downhill away from me. It is not an easy shot. I take out my pitching wedge and attempt the chip. I hit it about 2 feet too high and it hits some leaves and drops down just on top of a ridge that is one yard away from the green. Really not a terrible spot.

I got a congrats from the group that was waiting to hit on the second tee, so that felt good.

From there it is a chip, and two putt. An opening hole six. Par for the course for a Stanko opening hole.

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


Hole 2
Par 5 | 550 Yards

You know where you don’t want to be on this long par five hole? On the left side. It is the low side of the hole with trees preventing easy access back up to the fairway in the green.

I ended up on the left.

I hit a flop up drive that went only 150 yards and ended up on the left side with no access point. I think that I have an alleyway though…but I don’t It gets past one tree but then hits another and bounces left again. I then have to just hit a pitching wedge over trees and go about 90 degrees right onto the fairway. My fourth shot it is from a long way off, but I think it best to hit a low screaming three iron and seemingly knuckles in the air.

My fifth and sixth shots are bad chips, and me seventh and eighth shots on this hole are putts.

This hole was a disaster. The longest hole on the course took the longest time for me to play. It was at this moment I was worried and also slightly embarrassed because my first two hole have not been good. .

SCORE: 8 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 1
Score Overall: 14 (+5)


Hole 3
Par 3 | 160 Yards

We had a downhill par three after a hole where I found myself in a ton of trouble. Seems like I want to make it two and a row.

My drive goes a bit left, takes a bounce off a hill and rolls right behind a tree. Perfect. Lovely. I can either go right or left around of the flag, but no direct path toward it. I decided to go left…but I chipped it too hard and it went past the green and now I am chipping from the other side…downhill. Brutal.

I chip nicely from the uphill position, and then two putt for a five. We are doing double-bogey, triple-bogey and double-bogey. Can we have a good hole please? Need a good hole.

SCORE: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 17
Score Overall: 19 (+7)


Hole 4
Par 4 | 360 Yards

BOUNCE BACK HOLEEEE!!!

Let’s go dancing!

I got a par DESPITE hitting ANOTHER worm burner off the tee. It only went about 140 yards. It was a fairway in regulation, but still terrible. Not good.

BUT ONLY THREE-IRON BATMAN!

I hit the best shot of the round, and arguably the best shot of my entire summer. I hit my three iron a clear 200 yards and holy shit, I had a green in regulation. I kid you not, what a fucking shot by me.

I two putt from on the green, what a two putt it was. I had an uphill look for birdie from about 15 feet away. I told myself to not leave it shot. I sure didn’t because I blasted it past about five feet and left myself a nice tickler for par. But I made it. What a par. What a bounce back. Just awesome.

SCORE: 4 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 5
Score Overall: 23 (+7)


Hole 5
Par 4 | 331 Yards

Looking to continue a streak of good golf after a par, I start off the fifth hole with my best drive of the day thus far. First time that I actually made solid contact. It is a second straight fairway in regulation so we are in good shape.

I tug my second shot, which was an eight iron, a little right so now I am about 3 yards right of the the green but I have a good lie. I chip and get it to within 10 feet (chipping is doing okay thus far this day) and I have a chance for par. A second straight one.

FUCKING HIT THE BALL SALLY! I come up ONE REVOLUTION SHORT of a second straight par. One more “let me just see the nike logo please like Tiger” revolution. Shit. Just shit.

Still a bogey is nice, but a par would have been the best.

SCORE: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 9
Score Overall: 28 (+8)


Hole 6
Par 4 | 262 Yards

Short par four alert!

This hole is an interesting one. There is about 100 yards of shrubbery you need to cross in the air to get onto the fairway. However, if you drive the ball too far, then you reach the funneled part of the fairway that is surrounded on both sides by bunkers. That we do not want.

So I had a choice to make, do I go with driver, or do I go with three-iron?

I chose to go with driver. Go big or go home.

My drive shades a bit left, but I find myself just three yards short of the front left side bunker. Wonderful position. do have a funky 70-80 yard shot in which I don’t love, but still much better than the sand.

My second shot I attempt what’s not a chip, but also not a full swing…a quasi o bump and run. I am aim to place the ball between all the bunkers and on the front edge of the green.

My second shot doesn’t go exactly according to plan, and I end up needing to chip from the fringe. I was too far away to putt.

I get onto the green, and I am about 10 feet away from par. My first putt JUST MISSES THE HOLE AGAIN FOR THE SECOND STRAIGHT HOLE BECAUSE MY CALL WAS CURSED.

I felt like a real golfer on this hole because when the professionals miss birdies it is usually by a hair. I also feel incredibly frustrated because I could be buying valuable strokes I need later.

SCORE: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 13
Score Overall: 33 (+9)


Hole 7
Par 3 | 200 Yards

Oh the long par three. Love them so much. What is the best course of action for me to take? Do I just admit that I will most likely be short and not go with a long iron? Or do I try and get on the green?

The extra funky thing about this par three is that it is downhill and just over the green is the tee box to the third hole. If I go over, it is target practice for those unexpected golfers below.

I choose my three iron hybrid because I think the chance of an large slice is less than a traditional three iron. I also tend to get more loft on it, so i wasn’t worried about going over.

I hit the hybrid, and there is not much slice. Instead, the ball starts out left, and stays out left, and bounces off a rocky/rooted area about 20 yards left of the green and ricochets into the woods. I am not dropping, hitting three.

It takes me two chips get onto the green because I didn’t hit the ball at all on my first attempt. My second chip goes past the hole, and I have a downhill putt for a double bogey. I hit it past on my first attempt, and wrap up with a triple bogey.

Some advice to people who want to score better: don’t hit the ball out of bounds.

SCORE: 6 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 3
Score Overall: 39 (+12)


Hole 8
Par 4 | 304 Yards

A short par four. Lots of these on this course. Making the most of the space they have.

Good contact on my drive sends the ball about 190 yards. I end up landing on the right side of the fairway and the ball rolls off so I am hitting from the rough. With about 110 yards left to the hole, I take out my pitching wedge and attempt to give myself a GIR.

I hit my pitching wedge well, but I don’t get enough of it. I land a little bit short so I need to chip on. A short shoulder swing and two putts later, it is a bogey five on the this par four.

SCORE: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 15
Score Overall: 44 (+13)


Hole 9
Par 4 | 375 Yards

My drive on this hole was a massive banana hook. Double what it usually is, and what it should be. My drive was only about 170 yards. How far would I consistently hit it if I just hit it straight?

So I have over 200 yards to the hole and I take out my three iron. I hit it well, but it is a smidge to the left…and I have the dreaded chip of needing to lob over a bunker without much wiggle room in terms of green space.

I decide to pull the absolutely idiotic move of chipping it into the sand. Don’t recommend anyone going to join the beaches at Van Cortlandt. Lots of green mixed in, some weeds, some bushes.

I somehow hit it out of this bunker in one go. I don’t know if I get any more satisfaction on the golf course than when I get out of a bunker it one swing and actually have a good look out. For the record, this was my only sand shot of the day.

I two putt from where I placed myself and so a six is written on the scorecard.

SCORE: 6 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 7
Score Overall: 50 (+15)


Hole 10
Par 5 | 452 Yards

Not the best way to start the back nine. A par five after a relatively long par four for this course.

I take out my driver and decide that amongst all the green, I would rather it hit into the woods on the left. So I am starting off this hole hitting my third stroke from the rough. I take out my one wood (oh yea, I do have one) because I am about 300 yards away from the hole, Much like my three iron on the fourth hole, I unexpectedly stripe the ball and I find myself 100 yards short of the green.

Looking for maybe a chance to still salvage a par with a one-putt…oh but that is a dream. I tug my pitching wedge a little to the left, but ideal depth. However, my chip, which was my par shot, goes well past the hole. It is damage control time. How bad will the damage be?

Luckily my putting game was still working well, and only two for me from about 30 feet away. It is a seven on the scorecard. A double-bogey. Would have been a lot more palatable if I didn’t hit it OB to start.

I really am stoked I hit a wood so well from an unideal lie. Happy indeed. Finding the positive in the negative.

SCORE: 7 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 6
Score Overall: 57 (+17)


Hole 11
Par 3 | 135 Yards

Van Cortlandt Park enjoys following up par fives with par threes. I honestly don’t hate it.

This short par three is fairly straightforward with the only true danger being a bunker on the right side.

I take out a nine iron. It feels so good coming off the club. There is a bit off a fad the golfball and wait started off on the left side of the green (with the flag on the right side) becomes a tee shot that just lands in the rough. Disappointed in a great shot that didn’t end up as good as it felt, I buckle up and take put my wedge.

I achieve golf nirvana. I nearly chip the ball in the hole. It looks so, so, so good. It doesn’t end up rattling the bottom of the cup, but it is a true tap-in par. It is my second par of the day. Feels good to record a three sandwiched between two par five holes.

SCORE: 3 (1 Putts)
Handicap: 18
Score Overall: 60 (+17)


Hole 12
Par 5 | 550 Yards

We have reached the final par five of the round.

I absolutely pipe my drive and it find the fairway. We are in good shape. After driving it about 210 yards, I have no choice to lay up. I take out my three iron and I hit it well, about 200 yards, so I am roughly 140 yards away from the green.

I take out my seven Iron and I hit it up in the air. It looks really good…till it starts fading to the right. Why is it doing that? I have no idea. My irons never actually fade right.

Still, I am by the green, just five yards off. Okay position.

THAT IS UNTIL I HIT THE CAR PATH WITH MY FIRST CHIP BECAUSE I AM AN IDIOT. Hey, Stanko, why don’t you hit your chip in the air so it can’t skip off concrete??

My first chip ends up going to the other side of the green. I am on a hill, in-between the fringe and the rough. I need to be very gentle.

I chip this think like I am touching lace. Softly the ball the rolls onto the green and would you believe it that I get it to within three feet? What I chip. Oh so delicate. The ball was like a cat landing after a pounce.

I tape it in for my last one-putt of the day.

It is at this point I should mention that this is the hardest hole on the back nine. So a six isn’t terrible, but I was a good chip away from having a real par chance.

SCORE: 6 (1 Putts)
Handicap: 2
Score Overall: 66 (+18)


Hole 13
Par 3 | 135 Yards

This is the Brian hole.

I scored a bogey on this hole, missing the par putt by about a foot from roughly 12 feet away. My putt was important because I was in the line of Brian, who had himself a PAR PUTT.

Brian had himself a great chance for par. This was the first hole we really told Brian to aim 45 degrees to the left and just accept his slice. He took out a seven iron and it went straight toward the green.

Now we had a bit of a blind tee shot on this hole because we had to hit over some swampy brush, so as we approach the hole we see that Brian was just short of the green. He chipped on, and from about 15 feet away he had a wonderful chance to make a par.

The three of us all putt out so Brian is the last one. If he makes this, we are all going to go nuts.

Brian’s putt misses by less than six inches. It was so close. A very worthy par putt. We are all bummed a bit, but this hole marked a great turnaround for Brian. For the remainder of the round he drastically improves.

Easily most improved golfer on the round goes to Brian.

SCORE: 4 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 12
Score Overall: 70 (+19)


Hole 14
Par 4 | 350 Yards

So begins the roughest stretch at Van Cortlandt Park for Mr. Stanko.

The layout of this hole is very similar to the par five 12th hole with a bit of land barging in from the right to cut off faith of an easy drive. With myself putting together a fine round to this point, I decide to be smart and lay up with a three iron.

Check, mark that in the win column. I am in the fairway in regulation…for what would be the last time on the day.

I need a five iron to reach the green. Guess what, when you shank a five iron on the approach, things are not going to go well. So now my third shot is a pitching wedge and I decide that I don’t want to put that on the green either. Sure, let’s make things as difficult as possible.

So I chip onto the green with my fourth shot, and then doom reigns down upon me.

My first three-putt. My first one of the day comes on hole 14. I went 13 holes without three-putting. That is a personal best. But how would I react once i step off the path the first time?

SCORE: 7 (3 Putts)
Handicap: 4
Score Overall: 77 (+22)


Hole 15
Par 4 | 250 Yards

I don’t react that great.

This hole is incredibly unique. It is an elevated tee shot. There is a large valley, but then the green itself is even more elevated than the tee box. For the second straight hole I need to hit a safety three iron to ensure that I do not overdrive the very short fairway.

There is a bit of room on the left, but now much. On the right, there is a nice big tree, and I think it’s the best course of action to hit my ball directly behind this tree. Why not have things be as difficult as possible?

A smartly pitch out to the fairway, but I overshoot it a little and I end up in the rough. It is about 340 yards to the elevated green…so this seems like the opportune time to attempt a flop shot with my sand wedge, right?

Where the hell is my caddy telling me that this is a terrible idea?

My flop shot goes about 10 yards forward, and that is all. I think I got a dumb sense of confidence because when I was behind the tree I attempted a flop shot over it just for giggles and I hit it well, even it if didn’t get over the tree. I had a false sense of confidence.

Never have confidence in golf. Just assume the worst.

I pitch it on with my fourth shot and it turns out to be pretty damn good. Especially for a blind chip where I could not see the green.

Two-putt from about 15 feet away and it is a double-bogey on the scorecard.

SCORE: 6 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 14
Score Overall: 83 (+24)


Hole 16
Par 4 | 281 Yards

This is the Stefan hole. I got a seven on this hole because my drive didn’t fade all, and when I aimed left it went OB and then I puddled around and had a three putt so I got a seven. Not fun, and honestly, I really just don’t want to write about it.

Stefan Juran is playing some insane golf at this point. He really liked Brian’s driver to this point (I think it is from 2008?), but he loved it after this hole.

Stefan’s first drive is a flop shot that probably went about 150 yards and landed straight in the fairway. Up to this point, Stefan was driving around 250 each hole with ease if he so chose.

Stefan wanted to hit a second drive to redeem himself, and oh-boy did he.

When I tell you that Stefan drove the green, I mean it. When I tell you that his ball ended up just 10 feet short of the hole on an uphill slope, I mean it.

It was honestly one of the best drives I have ever seen. It was absolutely unreal.

So Stefan played his first drive and recorded a par. He got up to the green and saw where he second drive landed. He stepped up to the putt, and drilled it. Because he is an honorable man, he wrote down a par, but good lord this was the cleanest eagle I had ever seen. I bow in your presence Stefan.

SCORE: 7 (3 Putts)
Handicap: 16
Score Overall: 90 (+27)


Hole 17
Par 3 | 160 Yards

Putting, putting, putting.

It is an uphill par three running about 160, but you have to play it longer with the steepness. I step up to the tee looking to hit a chopped down three iron and that is exactly what I do. I actually miss the green a bit to the right, which is much better than missing to the left where the woods wait for me to swallow my ball.

I have an absolutely horrendous first chip. I decided to be an absolute buffoon and chip with my sand wedge rather than my pitching wedge, which I had been good with all day long. The reason I decided to do this was because it was a short distance between the rough I was in and the hole. Not a lot of green to work with, so I wanted to be gentle.

I was too gentle. I barely move the ball forward.

Out of frustration I go back to the pitching wedge…and exactly what I worried about happened. I hit the ball too hard and it rolled out too far.

Now about 20 feet away from the hole, I want to get back on the two-putt train to at least have a not awful looking five.

I did not get the two-putt ticket. I was still riding the three-putt train. Six on the scorecard on a par three. The second time today that I have written a six down on a par three.

Disgusting.

SCORE: 6 (3 Putts)
Handicap: 8
Score Overall: 96 (+30)


Hole 18
Par 4 | 260 Yards

We have reached the last hole. My hopes for breaking 100 are hanging on the brink. I need a birdie to get a 99. And I have not had a birdie all day.

The 18th hole at Van Cortlandt Park is a downhill short par four. There is room to the right, but the left is neighbored by woods until about 30 yards in front of the green.

I hit a drive to kick off the hole that goes about 180 yards. I just wanted one in play. The thing is, this 180 yard drive bounced off a tree on the left and found its way back into the hitting area. I got very fortunate. Everyone in the group hit, but everyone wanted to hit again. So, why the hell not.

My second drive, I just swung as hard as I could. Because golf doesn’t make any sense…this one goes straighter than my first drive. I hit my second drive about 220 yards, and I outdrive the fairway and land about 45 yards away from the pin in the left rough.

Punish me or judge me if you dare, but I took this second drive. We aren’t playing in a tournament, so why not.

I take out my pitching wedge and it is time now for a bump and run. Pitching gods don’t fail me now.

A solid chip rolls nicely and I get to about 10 feet away from the hole. I have my second green in regulation on the day…and I do have my chance at a birdie. I do have a chance to break 100!

A birdie putt…and I miss it by one inch. It was a right to left breaker, and I hit my putt a bit too softly and so it curls just in front of the hole and lands 2 inches to the left of the hole. It is a top in par. Not a bad way to end a round at all, but damn, it could have been a legendary way.

SCORE: 4 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 10
Score Overall: 100 (+30)


FINAL THOUGHTS

  • I two-putted the first 10 holes at Van Cortlandt. This is not a drill. The first time I did not record a two-putt was on hole 11 where I one-putted…and then I followed it up with another one-putt on 12!
    • My first three-putt did not get written down until hole 14.
      • This was the pre-cursor to three three putts over the final five holes.
        • I must have lost lost concentration of patience? I am not entirely sure. But damn I was on a great run. Best putting streak I have had all summer
    • The greens on the course were slow. That definitely helped me a lot.
    • 37 total putts is tied for the best this season for me. The last time I did it was at the Meadowood Golf And Tennis Club in Florida back in mid April.
  • I had two par threes where I recorded a six. A triple bogey on a par three is never acceptable. The last time I played in Fairwinds I had an explosion on a par three as well. This is a trend that needs to end.
  • I was SOOOOO CLOSE to breaking 100. When I tell you that my last birdie attempt on 18 was close, it was really close.
  • Van Cortlandt was in better shape than the last time I played it three years ago. There were no mats this time around on the tee boxes. Instead there were some sand boxes or ice hard ground. Needed drill bits to get tees in the ground.
  • I would love how to hit the ball straight. I think I would be at 200 yards consistently if I didn’t have a slice. I have gotten a lot better at playing it, but would love to be as straight as an arrow.
  • Stefan shot an 84 (sh). Just an absurdly low score. Good for him. He sand bagged us!
  • Credit to Rob who we played with. He was a very good sport.
  • Since when did Van Cortlandt Golf Course have three dollar parking fee? That seems like a cash money grab.
  • I do like Van Cortlandt. On the back nine I did not use my driver all the time. The length of holes fluctuates which I like. The only iron that I didn’t use was my four iron.

FAIRWINDS GOLF COURSE

8/21/22 Score
#1 | Par 46 (2 Putts)
#2 | Par 58 (2 Putts)
#3 | Par 35 (2 Putts)
#4 | Par 44 (2 Putts)
#5 | Par 45 (2 Putts)
#6 | Par 45 (2 Putts)
#7 | Par 36 (2 Putts)
#8 | Par 45 (2 Putt)
#9 | Par 46 (2 Putts)
#10 | Par 57 (2 Putts)
#11 | Par 33 (1 Putt)
#12 | Par 56 (1 Putt)
#13 | Par 34 (2 Putts)
#14 | Par 47 (3 Putts)
#15 | Par 46 (2 Putts)
#16 | Par 47 (3 Putts)
#17 | Par 36 (3 Putts)
#18 | Par 44 (2 Putts)
Total100 (+30) | 37 Putts, 6 FIR, 2 GIR

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