First round of the year, in the books! I was traveling for work. I was in Houston for three days, then Stefan (my co-worker) was a hero and drove a cargo van two hours to Lake Charles, LA for our stint at L’Auberge Casino and the Barstool Sportsbook. I want to thank L’Auberge for being fucking incredible as hosts. Delightful. Want to go back ASAP.

On the grounds of the L’Auberge Casino is the Contraband Bayou Golf Course. Stefan and I got some rented clubs and got hooked up with some balls and we were ready to tackle the course. No warmups. I have no knowledge of the course. I am going out clean slate. This is my first round of golf since September 20, 2022 when I played Dunwoodie Golf Course with Michael Ritz.

The course has a 69.0 rating with a 116 slope. Playing from the green tees, the distance was 6,015 yards.

So here are the clubs that were in my bag. This bag was full of clubs all made from within the last five years. Beats the irons and wedges that I have been hitting that are nearly two decades old.

  • Driver
  • Three Wood
  • Three Iron Hybrid
  • Four Iron
  • Five Iron
  • Six Iron
  • Seven Iron
  • Eight Iron
  • Nine Iron
  • Pitching Wedge
  • Wedge (That is just what it was labeled as)
  • 54 degree wedge
  • Putter

This is technically my second time on a course this year. On New Years Day I played with my cousin and his buddies which was a hell of a new way to start the year. I do want to ask the question if simulators count? I do not think that it does, but some people would. I have not played a round on a simulator. it has been with Emma so we have done a lot of practice range and arcade games. Good times, but does not count as a golf round.

Now let’s see how I did in my first true round of 2023.

Hole 1
Par 5 | 543 Yards

Here we are. First hole of a new golf year. Does this whole set the barometer for the whole year? God, I hope not.

No driving range at all, and my first swing with the driver is OUTSTANDING. Bada-bing, bada-boom! We have a fairway in regulation to begin the season. Let’s fucking get after it here!

Oh, can we mention how rude it is for the course to start out with the longest hole on the course as the first? What about us Northeastern folk who are not warmed up yet for golf swings.

My second shot from the fairway…not so great. Duffed a three wood. Not great. This is where I say I used a mulligan. My one mulligan of the day. I am normally not good with my three woods to begin with, so trying out a new one going was a tough choice.

Regardless, I take a second swing with the three-wood, and dare I say…it goes swimmingly well. Like really well. Like, almost further than my drive went? Odd. I feel odd. What is this swing I just felt.

So my third swing is from about 150 yards away. I hit it a bit short of the green, so now is time to test the chipping skills. My fourth shot, my chip, goes over the green. It bounced were the hole went and then rolled passed. I was too strong for my own good. So now I have a second chip, and this one goes much better. It is within about 10 feet! Holy shit! Good bounce back.

To make things even better…I one putt it. I slip it in. Holy lord. A one putt to start? Not too bad.

Yes I used a mulligan on this hole. Too bad! I need a bit of a warmup after not playing golf on a golf course in a long time!

SCORE: 6 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 12
Score Overall: 6 (+1)

Hole 2
Par 4 | 368 Yards

Hole two starts out with a massive slice. My ball only goes about 150 yards and heads to the left at a pretty sharp 45 degree angle. Not great.

To make matters worse, it begins to rain. It is just a shower, but it is a heavy shower.

My ball is in some touch rough and I have to deal with some trees. I attempt to hit a low stinger/burner type of shot…and it kind of just comes out as a screaming ground ball that skips over a bunk and gets to me about 110 yards away from the pin. I am still in the rough, and I am wet (literally), but I am not in awful shape.

Pitching wedge to the green, but it goes over the green. Now my fourth shot is a chip that gets onto the green but the rain must have slowed up the green because my chip doesn’t necessarily come close.

HOWEVER, I fucking one-putt it again! I did it again! Two straight one-putts. I start out the day with bogeys and one putts. I am salvaging this!

SCORE: 5 (1 Putt)
Handicap: 6
Score Overall: 11 (+2)

Hole 3
Par 4 | 404 Yards

This is the hole where I found out I can hit a three wood. And I can hit it fucking well!

My drive was a good one. A bit left, but still a clean line of site to the green. Nothing to complain about at all.

As the rain begins to clear up, I take my three wood weapon out from my back. I am about 200 yards away from the flag. so let’s see what happens.

Folks. Ladies and gentleman. Anyone who has surrendered themselves to reading this post. I hit this three wood so pure. It was effortless. Is this how all golf shots are supposed to feel? Is this what it feels like to hit it pure.

I drive up to the green with Stefan and I see a ball at the back of the green. It is my ball. I have a green in regulation!

I am about 25 feet away from the hole? Maybe 30? This is where I put my dunce cap on I decide to forget how to putt. Three putts. Three. I had a chance for birdie. Even an early par! But I am getting a bogey. I start my round off with three bogeys. The other two I had to fight for. This one is a little bit disappointing.

SCORE: 5 (3 Putts)
Handicap: 2
Score Overall: 16 (+3)

Hole 4
Par 3 | 143 Yards

First par three of the day. Let’s see how this goes.

About 140 yards away, I take out my nine iron, and I hit it short. I kind of wanted to keep it short of the green, but not that short. So I needed a chip and a putt. I chip went long. I again, like the first hole, chipped it too long. It lands pin high and rolls past. Then, I chipped it too short. Then it will two putts.

A relatively mundane hole. A very much normal Stanko par three. Made a mess of it. Shanked iron, two chips, and two putts.

The decent scoring but disappointing scores train rolls on.

SCORE: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 14
Score Overall: 21 (+5)

Hole 5
Par 4 | 307 Yards

Confession. I do not remember much about this hole at all.

This was at the point of the round where I stopped taking deep notes and was just enjoying the round with Stefan.

I do know that I hit on my drive and that was a 200 yard beauty in the fairway. About 107 yards out, that would mean that I hit either a pitching wedge or nine iron next, but it did not land on the green. I do not have GIR checked off on my scorecard.

In the end it is my fourth straight five. I am rolling along just giving high fives to everyone. At this point in my round, my consistency with my putting (for the most part) has allowed me to keep things steady.

SCORE: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 4
Score Overall: 26 (+6)

Hole 6
Par 4 | 345 Yards

I do not recall this hole very much at all.

What I have written down is that I scored a five. My fifth straight five. It is the fifth bogey I have on the round thus far with one double bogey on the third.

I two-putted this one again. It is my third straight two-putt. That seems okay to me.

Sorry, this hole just sorta happened. Maybe I blacked out? Two straight holes where I just stuck to the normal Stanko productive hole agenda. Decent drive, second shot off-target, chip and two putt. All in a days work.

Luckily for all of you, I do remember the next hole.

SCORE: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 10
Score Overall: 31 (+7)

Hole 7
Par 4 | 359 Yards

Dog leg right hole. There is water on the left side and it curls around to the green, and behind the green the water and swamp expands. That last little part about the swamp expanding…yea I didn’t know that when I hit my second shot.

I hit my drive out there but it does not go terrible par. I didn’t get all of it so it only went about 170 yards. Not super clean. But I am okay. I am in the fairway. Again, I can not complain about being in the fairway.

So I am roughly 180 yards away from the hole. I take out my three-wood. My excalibur. My secret weapon for this round. I hit it, and I hit a nuke. I hit it like I hit my strong drives. Straight with a fade at the end. I hit this ball over the green, and it looks like it lands on the other side of the bridge which was near the tee box for hole eight. I drive up to that area, towards the green, and see the green, wet, moat that surrounds the back of the green. I start cursing myself because I had a deadly fear that I have lost my ball. Deadly hit to the confidence.

I have to drive back over the bridge, away from the eighth hole and back to the seventh, and I drop the ball in the rough where I say my ball go over the water. I take out my pitching wedge, and I hit my chip two yards short of the green. Now I am chipping with my fifth shot, but my wedge club (which I also wanted to steal), and I stick my golf ball to within three feet! A one-putt to save a six! How about them apples!

SCORE: 6 (1 Putts)
Handicap: 8
Score Overall: 37 (+9)

Hole 8
Par 3 | 127 Yards

I will say it. I am a lucky son of bitch. This is a short par three and there is water in front of the green. All you need is a short iron or even a pitching wedge to get there. That is all you need.

Stefan goes first, and he does exactly what you are not supposed to. He puts it in the water. He chunks it. He uses his mulligan on this hole. A good spot to use it.

I get up there, and I hit a worm burner with a seven iron. The wind is in my face and the flag is in the back so I think that I will be okay. Well, my ball skips once on the water, bounces over the lip of the grass, and ends up in the bunker that protects the front of the green.

I will take not being in the water, but I am in the sand. Not great.

I do have a good lie though. I don’t even use my 54 degree. I take my pitching wedge and just pick it clean. it is the right decision! I get the ball into the middle of the green, and two putt from there for a bogey. It is not a traditional sand save, but it is a Stanko sand save. If I am getting bogeys on holes I am in the sand in, then I am cheering up and down the course.

SCORE: 4 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 16
Score Overall: 41 (+10)

Hole 9
Par 5 | 498 Yards

We began the front nine with a par five. We end the front nine with a par five. We begin the day with the longest hole on the course, and we end the first half of our day with the second longest hole on the course.

This hole has hole all up the right side. Then there is about a 10 yard gap between the water and the road. I aimed for that gap, hoping that my natural fade would carry it over the slit of water and plop the ball in the middle of the fairway. My drive is a fucking beauty, and it goes dead straight with just a slight fade. It was my best drive of the day. I hit this puppy 230 yards in the air, and it just hits sploosh in the water. Frustrating because I lost a ball, but I am also happy because I nailed it and hit it so clean.

I drop my ball and I take out my three wood. With my third shot, I get fucking get the ball onto the green. I reached a par five in regulation with a dropped ball! How does that even work! How does my golf swing switch so often between absolute dog shit and absolute beauty. I am on the green with a putt for birdie (granted from fucking miles away). I can never be complaining about this.

Now, could I yell and screen about three putting. Recording a bogey after being on the green in regulation on a par five is a massive struggle on the psyche. I am not a fan of that. Nope.

So my front nine I managed to do alright, even with this bogey. I shoot a 47 with two holes that hurt, but a couple of holes that I am pretty damn proud of. Overall, not too shabby for the front nine after not playing since last September.

I still can’t believe I hit my three-wood nearly 240 yards. I hit it so pure. So clean. I need to take this club home.

SCORE: 6 (3 Putts)
Handicap: 18
Score Overall: 47 (+11)

Hole 10
Par 4 | 316 Yards

If there is ever a hole made for Jonathan Stanko, this is the one. A dog leg left with a hill on the right side to protect the hitter of the golf ball from screaming away from the hole and extending it. I begin the back nine with probably, the greatest drive of my life? I legit hit this drive 255 yards. I am not kidding. I must have had a great kick. I was less than 60 yards away from the hole. Less than 60 yards.

My ball did land in the rough. I was short right, and between me and the green was a nice big fat bunker. Now, if I had a flop shot in my bag of tricks, i would have tried it here. or even an easy shot pitch. That is not in my bag, not my first go-around of the year. I try and do a bump and run hitting the top of the hill behind the bunker and letting it trickle on the green, but I hit it too far and my ball goes over the green. I didn’t skull the chip. It wasn’t like super-duper bad…but it was not very good either. Landed it past the hole and god knows I don’t have backspin.

But from behind the green I pitch on and then two putt from about 15 feet away.

A good way to start the back nine. I don’t lose much sleep about my poor chip because I know that shot is very difficult for me.

SCORE: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 7
Score Overall: 52 (+12)

Hole 11
Par 3 | 154 Yards

My most disappointing hole of the day.

Hole 11 is a 154 yard par three with a green slightly elevated. The wind was in our face. I take out a seven iron and it slices to the left. It bounces on the hill on the left and then rolls left of the car path and into a bit of the brush. Being the honest man that I am, I punch out of the brush but couldn’t get it all the way up the hill before the green. So I step up now and try and chip again, but this chip only just trickles onto the green and I haven’t mentioned it yet, but the hole is on the opposite side of the green. I have like 60 feet to go.

Three putts. Three of them. My first putt goes about 50 feet but ends up short and to the right. My second putt goes past the hole a foot.

I have a six on a short par three. This is not a great hole. We need to forget about this hole.

SCORE: 6 (3 Putts)
Handicap: 15
Score Overall: 58 (+15)

Hole 12
Par 4 | 394 Yards

Boy oh boy did I get lucky on this hole. A dog leg right, I would love to aim to the right and bring it over to the fairway, but I have this annoying thing called a “tree” standing in my fucking way. I tell Stefan I don’t like the tree, and I wish it was not there. I aim slightly left of the tree, hoping to avoid it.

If you are here then you know the drill. I did not miss the tree. I hit a screaming line drive into the tree, but the ball does come through the other side and I see it moving toward the fairway on the 13th hole. Stefan and I get into the cart and miraculously, my ball is not that far off course? I look at my ball and it appears to have a scuff mark, which means by ball hit the cart path and I was fortunate enough to have the golf gods smiling on me.

From this point, it is lucky right. All I would want is a decent score. But how does a green in regulation sound? I think that sounds pretty fucking delightful! I plop my second shot onto the back of the green, giving myself about a 50 foot putt with the last 10 feet being straight down hill towards the cup. it is a slippery one. Not great. I want to kill the ball on the top of the hill and just let it roll down to wherever it goes. The stupid “hit the ball Stanko” in me leaves it short of the ridge, so now my second putt is downhill breaker. I get that putt to within three feet and I putt it in for a bogey.

It is the second time today thus far where I got on the green in regulation but then left myself in a position of weakness for the par putt.

SCORE: 5 (3 Putts)
Handicap: 5
Score Overall: 63 (+16)

Hole 13
Par 3 | 132 Yards

Short par three. Thing about this hole is that there was a shit ton of wind in Stefan and I’s face. Mattered what club you pick. I picked the eight iron knowing it would probably be too much, but hoping the wind would help. Turns out I was right. I got the ball pin high. The bad part is that I was about 15 yards to the left. Again I hit this iron shot through the shortstop and third base hole. I did think I had gone OB, but luckily I did not hit it as far as I thought I had.

I am next to near a tree. My feet are at an awkward ankle. I am going to need to do a sharp, short swing. I took out my pitching wedge thinking I needed some more oomph then just the wedge club. I should have gone up to an eight iron. I hit the chip the way I want but it lands a yard short so now I am in the rough right next to the green. Just needed to land it about three feet further. But, much like on my first and second holes, I managed to have a fantastic chip and I tapped in for bogey. I enjoyed not needing to really use my putter after doing three putts on the last hole.

SCORE: 4 (1 Putt)
Handicap: 13
Score Overall: 67 (+17)

Hole 14
Par 4 | 279 Yards

The driver let me down. Really for the first time, the driver let me down really bad. I aimed right, into water, thinking I would have my fade. Turns out I do know how to hit a straight drive but it comes at the expense of a lost ball. The must frustrating thing about it is that this is a scorable par four and I wasted it right off the jump.

So from the right I just pitched out closer to the green with my third shot. Chipped on with my fourth, and two-putted for my double bogey. That is just the way it happened. it is frustrating and annoying. Have to move onto the next hole.

SCORE: 6 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 17
Score Overall: 73 (+19)

Hole 15
Par 5 | 487 Yards

Here it is. Here is the disaster hole. It wasn’t hole 11 where I got a six on a par three. Those were mistakes and are quantifiable. This here, this hole has a little bit of everything.

The whole whole is a dog leg left par five. There is very little room to movie on the left side, so naturally the hole is going to be extended a little. I have the honor on the tee and I aim to the right attempting for my banana hook. I unfortunately didn’t account for the fact that’d I’d jam myself on my swing and push it ever further left than I wanted. This ball is curving towards the woods, careening at a speed that does not bring about much optimism for a ball being in play.

Stefan steps up behind me, and like a good guy he is, he decides to play good cart golf. He was aiming over the trees on the left, hoping for it to fade back towards the fairway. Stefan hit his straight as an arrow, so trees bound it seemed.

Now luckily for both of us, we found our balls! How, I have no idea. Maybe they bounced off trees, or maybe we just got lucky and didn’t know the course well. Regardless, both Stefan and I are hugging the left side, but stll have enough room to swing towards the green on our next shots.

I take out my three-wood which I was feeling oh-so-confident about. This wouldn’t be the game of golf if it didn’t humble you. I take my swing and my ball nearly hits the cart next to me. Stefan may have flinched. It was atrocious.

Stefan shakes off his cobwebs and throws me another ball. This time I don’t think and I just swing and who would have guessed, its a god damn good swing.

So I have a drive that was lucky to be in bounced. That is one. Then a swing that goes OB. That is two. Penalty stroke is three and my good three wood is my fourth. Now I should mention that my second attempt with this three-wood goes over the green. I fucking killed it. But I am off the green with a terrible lie. Not good. Just got on the green. DON’T GO OVER IT STANKO! GOD DAMNIT YOU DID IT AGAIN! I duffed a chip.

So my sixth shot is off the green and I pitch it onto the green and actually have a decent shot. I roll it out to within 15 feet of the green from about 60 feet away, so I am somewhat okay with where I ended up. I two putt, and I end up with a snowman. A snowman indeed.

So let’s recap.

Driver shot gets lucky.
Second shot into woods.
Fourth stroke I kill it and it goes flying over green.
Fifth stroke is a duffed chip.
Sixth stroke is actually a good chip.
Two putts for an eight.

SCORE: 8 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 1
Score Overall: 81 (+22)

Hole 16
Par 4 | 396 Yards

Bounce back hole. Needed it bad, and I got it.

After the disastrous 15th hole, I took out some aggression with this tee shot. I pretty damn starch banana hook finds my off the fairway and I am about 190 yards away from the green. I did extend the hole a bit with where my ball ended up, but that is to be expeted sometimes with my shot shape.

Even after the rough three wood swing on the 15th, I took it out again on this hole. This time around, I don’t fuck up my first swing with it. The swing goes really well, and my ball goes near the green. I am stretched out on the left side, just short of the green. I didn’t get all of it this time around, but I ended up in a perfectly fine spot.

From there, it is a chip, and two putts. This was just a damn good bounce back hole. Nothing really off about it at all. The act that I don’t hit the ball far really hurts me from being able to score on these longer par fours, so bogeys are perfectly okay for me.

SCORE: 5 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 3
Score Overall: 86 (+23)

Hole 17
Par 4 | 353 Yards

We got ourselves a par! Finally! Had some good opportunities but could not put them away earlier in the round. But here, on the 17th hole, we finally get the par we needed and wanted.

Now for the record, we played this whole from the front tees because I drove past the tee boxes we were using and we needed to go as fast as possible. But still, 353 yards, nothing to scoff your head at.

Both Stefan and I MURDERED our drives, probably about 230 or 250 yards. No joke. This driver has treated me well all day in terms of distance. Still made me proud here on the 17th hole.

I was about 110 yards away from the hole, so I took out my pitching wedge. I was in the center of the fairway with nothing but a pitch and a putt for birdie. Naturally, I then chunk my pitch attempt and it is a ground ball that went about 50 yards forward. UGH. FUCK ME. Can’t even get a GIR out of it.

I take out the wedge for a little bit of a bump and run. The green is slightly elevated, so I hit the front lip, a soft bounce…and it rolls to within one foot of the cup! One foot! A tap-in! A tap-in par! We are getting after it! Let’s go!

So I have to steal the three-wood and the wedge club from this rental bag.

SCORE: 4 (1 Putt)
Handicap: 9
Score Overall: 90 (+23)

Hole 18
Par 4 | 380 Yards

Stefan and I played this hole in the dark. In the complete and utter darkness. But we have a free round of golf and we are not going to let it go to waste.

Stepping up to the 380 yard par four, I hit a solid drive and I can see after about 100 yards that is has a bit of my banana hook but it doesn’t have as much as I expected. And where do I end up? I end up in the first fairway bunker of the day. Very disappointing. However, with that being said, I do have a pretty clean lie, so I pick out my four iron from about 180 out and hope to get it close.

I feel it come out a bit left, but still feel alright about it. There is water to the left, but I Stefan and I both did not hear any splash, so we know that it did not go there. However, when we are driving our cart into the darkness, we can not find my ball. Stefan is kind enough to let it drop by him, which is off to the left about 25 yards short of the flag. We both have a chip and a putt. 

Oh, and Stefan is up by one stroke. So we are literally right there neck and neck.

I unfortunately duff my chip on my third shot, and Stefan put it within 10 feet. So with my fourth shot I get it closer to the hole and then two putt to record a six on the final hole. Not the ending I would have liked, but for playing it in the complete darkness, who am I to complain. I am happy. Got to play some golf.

SCORE: 6 (2 Putts)
Handicap: 11
Score Overall: 96 (+25)


  • Last year I went out 13 times from March through September. I want to try and get out 20 times this year. That is my goal. Luckily I am going to Florida next week for a vacation so that may get me a bit of a head start.
  • I averaged less than two putts per hole. That is uh, pretty good for me.
    • Last year I averaged 39.4 putts per round. My lowest was 37 putts, which I did three times.
    • So my 35 putts in Louisiana, yea I will take that!
  • I think I maybe sort of figured out how to hit my three wood better. Even my own. I stood up very straight for my three wood during this round. I am going to try and bring that back the next time I play, whenever that is.
  • I averaged hitting 5.46 fairways per round last year, so my six this round seems accurate
  • I averaged 2.46 greens per regulation last year, so again my three greens this round is right about where I was.
  • I suppose I should set goals for how many putts, fairways and green I should hit per round?
  • I kinda of wish the course was in better shape. The greens were roughest with two separate types of grass. The darker green was much slower.
  • Whatever wedge club that I rented that had only “W” on it, I want it in my bag. Big time.
  • I

Contraband Bayou Golf Club Rounds

4/2/23 Score
#1 | Par 56 (1 Putt)
#2 | Par 45 (1 Putt)
#3 | Par 45 (3 Putts)
#4 | Par 35 (2 Putts)
#5 | Par 45 (2 Putts)
#6 | Par 45 (2 Putts)
#7 | Par 46 (1 Putt)
#8 | Par 34 (2 Putts)
#9 | Par 56 (3 Putts)
#10 | Par 45 (2 Putts)
#11 | Par 36 (3 Putts)
#12 | Par 45 (3 Putts)
#13 | Par 34 (1 Putt)
#14 | Par 46 (2 Putts)
#15 | Par 58 (2 Putts)
#16 | Par 45 (2 Putts)
#17 | Par 44 (1 Putt)
#18 | Par 46 (2 Putts)
Total96 (+25) | 35 Putts, 6 FIR, 3 GIR

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