The first green appeared saturated by last weekend’s heavy rain.
Even with the bright sunshine and warm temperature on Monday, July 26, it didn’t have enough time to dry. So I figured the greens at Crab Apple Ridge Golf Course in Waterford would be slow.
Then my opening putt of the morning – a 15-footer for par on the 485-yard, par-5 first hole – rolled 6 feet past the hole. So of course, I tapped the 6-foot bogey putt. It stopped 2 feet short of the hole.
After finally tapping in for double-bogey, I knew my putter and I were in for a long, unhappy day.
At first glance, the greens on this otherwise short and relatively easy course – it ranges from 5,157 yards from the red tees to 6,484 yards from the blue tees – appear inviting. But looks are deceiving.
When I thought a putt would roll left, it rolled right. When I thought a putt would roll right, it rolled left.
When I thought putts would roll straight, they didn’t. When I thought putts would turn, they didn’t.
When the greens felt damp and spongy earlier in the round, I put more speed into my putts. They rolled well past the hole. When the greens seemed drier later in the round, I took some speed off my putts. The putts stopped short of the hole. Only my level of frustration remained consistent throughout the round.
I failed to one-putt a single hole that day. I had nine three-putts in all, including a stretch of four straight and six in eight holes (No’s. 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 12). That lack of success on the greens was especially disappointing on the par-4, 390-yard 17th hole. I fired a 7-iron approach shot within six feet of the pin, which in itself was a borderline miracle given my lack of golfing ability.
I was poised to record the first birdie of my life on a course other than a par-3, pitch-and-putt. Better yet, I would rebound from missing a short birdie putt and settling for par on the par-3, 92-yard 11th hole.
The putt on No. 17 appeared straight when I lined it up. The ball rolled straight until about the three-foot mark. Then it slid to the left of the hole. I settled for a par, which again is a borderline miracle but still made me shake my head and roll my eyes.
After hitting two uncharacteristically solid shots, I wanted to be rewarded with a birdie. But that hasn’t happened on many other courses over the years. It didn’t happen at Crab Apple Ridge either.
But Crab Apple Ridge is worth playing, as much for the course as for the relatively inexpensive fees (I paid $29, including a cart, on Monday). Just ask my 14 year-old son Anthony.
He gave it two thumbs up. Anthony hasn’t stopped talking about where he played his first official 18-hole round of golf. He especially has shared the story of his first par on the par-3, 124-yard second hole.
He sank an 8-foot put on that hole. But he experienced his share of difficult putts. He used my putter.
– Victor Fernandes