Golf in the winter! What says living in the Carolinas more succinctly than "golf in the winter?" Of course in the summer nothing says living in the Carolinas more succinctly than "unable to golf after noon or you'll die of heat stroke" but you take the good with the bad. Hole #16 at Renaissance Golf Course here in Charlotte is a par 5. You can see of rough view of it here. 16 is a good driving hole since you hit off an elevated tee. Who doesn't enjoy hitting off an elevated tee? If you get a decent tee shot your next shot is going to be a layup on this hole. You will be around 200 yards from the green and unless you're paid to play golf you aren't going to drop a ball on that green because it has a creek running in front of it. If you don't get a decent drive you'll have trees on your right, between you and the drop area. If that is the case you'll be playing for bogey. After a decent second shot you will have around 50 to 100 yards to the hole. This shot isn't too hard but that creek in the front and the swamp beyond the hole make the green look mighty small. There are a couple of bunkers on the back side of the green that can save a long shot if it's not coming in too hot.
Yesterday I parred this hole for the first time. If you know my game, my parring a hole anywhere at any time is a bit of a miracle. This hole has especially been a beast. The drop area in front of the green is essentially a narrow peninsula and you have little room for error. As my friend Jon says, "It takes three good shots" to get off this hole without sacrificing a few strokes. That is what makes this hole so tough. When you know your margin for error is very small then the golf shots just get harder. That is the beauty of the game, the easiest shot in the world is the hardest if you absolutely have to hit it like you always do and know you can. Four foot putts with no break for par are the worst.
The white tees were about 20 yards ahead of where they were located the last time I played there and that helped me a lot on my drive. I also got lucky with my drive. I had been driving the ball better than usual, I have found that slowing that back swing down to a crawl really helps me get the club face closed when I swing. My usual slice from hell was lurking there but I kept it at bay for most of the day. This drive the ball did slice some but the fairway has a hill on the left side and the ball rode that back down to the fairway. This put me on the left side of the fairway, just short of the bunkers. I took a healthy cut with my 8 iron and found my self on the left side of the drop area around 100 yards from the hole. My pitching wedge is money with a full swing from 110 yards but I was afraid to take anything off the swing. I decided I'd rather go long into the bunkers beyond the green rather than land in the creek. I took a full swing and took a lot of turf with me. "Shit!" I said, thinking I had chunked the ball. But, I hadn't chunked. I caught enough of the ball it went up like it should and dropped about 15 feet to the right of the hole. I lagged the ball up to about three and tapped it in. A bloody miracle. I am sure the next time I go back #16 will have me for lunch again but until then I am victorious. It is such a good feeling to walk off a green with a good score, it'll keep you coming back. You could be ass all day up to that point and ass the place up for the rest of the day afterward but, as long as you get that one string of good shots, you'll be back.
This is one reason I am really starting to enjoy playing at Renaissance. Sunset Hills is essentially a learning course. You don't really have to think too much about your shots and errant shots aren't punished too badly. When you are preparing for a day at Sunset there aren't too many holes you think about as you go in. The par 3 over a pond is the only hole I really anticipate. With Renaissance there are several holes on my mind. Some I love and some I dread. The new Revolution has that potential but right now the fairways are still too immature to give consistent challenging play. Renaissance has some issues also. The greens are pretty rough overall and there is trouble with drainage (which may be something they'll never be able to control since the course is built on a landfill) and the $40 green fee is too high considering (we played for $25 with a online deal).