Friday, December 03, 2010

Golfing at Renaissance Park

The day after Thanksgiving I played my first round of golf at Renaissance Park. I played eighteen with Jon, Melanie’s brother in law. Rain was in the forecast for that day and we were afraid we could get rained out but, as Jon said, I’d rather play golf in the rain than go shopping. Friday was chilly and breezy but it didn’t rain and as long as it’s above 40 and not raining golf can be played. It may get hotter than hell here in the Carolinas during the summer but you can play golf year round.

A big reason I haven’t played at Renaissance until this past week is the price. Of the county-owned public courses it is easily the most expensive. It costs $9 more to play 18 holes here than at Sunset Hills and $8 more than Charles T. Meyers. The course is overall in better shape than Sunset Hills (I haven’t played Charles T. Meyers in a while) so I can see where the extra cost is going but the clubhouse is pretty dingy. One thing I will never understand about public buildings is how they are gorgeous when built, like the new clubhouse at the Revolution Park Golf Course, but allowed to get rundown until it’s obvious they need to be replaced like at Renaissance right now. Preventative maintenance, anyone?

What I liked initially about Renaissance was how wide open the front nine holes are. Overall they’re pretty forgiving. You can put yourself in some awkward shot positions but the course doesn’t have a great hunger for your ball if you hit an errant tee shot. The back nine will close up on you some but not too bad.

What I didn’t like was having a first hole that is a par 5. Ug, not what I need to face when I haven’t had a chance to hit a ball or two. A par five drive on your first swing is more pressure than I need. The second hole is a wide open par 4 which gives you a shot at the green unless you pop your drive behind you and back into the stands so I can forgive them that long ass first hole.

The third hole was a pleasant surprise and a nice sign of par threes to come. It’s a very short par three from an elevated tee. There are 4 pretty short par threes with big wide open greens. I’m not a fan of long par threes. I’d rather not worry about reaching the hole. I enjoy par threes more when I’m more worried about location than distance. After the third hole I knew I was going to have a fun day. I took a nice easy swing with my pitching wedge and just missed bouncing the ball up next to the flag. I ended up sitting on the fringe and was an easy chip and putt away from a par.

A friend of mine doesn’t like Renaissance because he claims he doesn’t like the blind tee shots. I didn’t find them to be a problem at all. Each fairway with a blind tee shot is pretty straight forward. There is nothing tricky about these holes. You can see where the fairway is going and a decent tee shot towards the middle of the fairway will leave you in a good position. Besides, the reason #10 has a blind tee shot is because the fairway damn near falls off a cliff 150 yards from the green. If you can get the ball to that point it will roll and roll and roll. If you ever want to say you drove the ball 300 yards a strong straight shot here will give that to you. That green is 480 yards from the white tees and my ball was sitting around 75 yards from the hole when I found it. I felt like King Kong. I think I had a bit of a tail wind also when I teed off but 300 yards is 300 yards.

A couple of holes, hello #16, are like giant putt putt holes. 16 is an almost U-shaped par five with an open fairway and a second shot that you have to lay up on a cow-teat shaped protrusion surrounded by a creek and dense woods. Screw that hole. I don’t even want to guess what I shot on 16. All I know is I lost two balls and stopped counting at 8.

This golf course, unlike the rest of the public courses in Mecklenburg, is intricate and tricky. You can have a good day at the rest of them without having a detailed knowledge of the course. Not so at Renaissance. It’s a course that will reward experience. For example, the next time I play when I get to 16 I am going to tee off and then pick up my ball and go play 17.

I actually had a pretty good day. I think I shot 101 which is shite but the best I’ve ever had so far. I would have done much better but a couple of lousy holes messed up my scorecard. All the time I spent at the range this summer has really paid off in the last couple of weeks. Practice! What a novel idea.

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