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Friday, July 22, 2011

Guest Blog from Alan Gard

It’s now been over a month since my visit to the Kingsley Club.  Previously, I had written about the anticipation leading up to the trip.  The offsetting post-trip ennui has allowed me the opportunity to procrastinate in documenting some thoughts on my visit there.  
This time I got to spend four whole days there, and I noticed some things that I missed when I was only there for one day before.
Gard daydreams about an eagle on #13
Culture Club
While I had hunches on the culture from my first trip there, a few points were really driven home to me this time.  First, the genuine friendliness of the staff was abundantly clear.  I arrived before my host, and they made me feel welcome as if I was the member.  There is something different about the feel of this club in comparison to the club I was a member at and other clubs I’ve visited.  The best way I can describe it is that there is a total void of pretention, where many other clubs are havens of pretention.  Another way of saying it might be that they treat you the way they do just because it is the right thing to do.  I get a feeling that few people working at the club are actually “working”; they’re just doing what they enjoy doing.  And for me that elevated the experience.
Into the Great Wide Open
I remembered the remoteness of the club and the dirt road leading to it from my first trip.  But I didn’t realize how alone you could feel on the course. There were obviously other groups out, but many times we felt like the only ones on the course.  And that makes for such a pleasant experience compared to many resort courses where you feel like someone is right on top of you, whether that be other groups or the course ranger.  Playing Kingsley is retreat golf; you are truly getting away from it all.  Despite all the golf we played (my tally was 31, 43, 54 and 36 holes over my four days), I was really refreshed at the end of the trip because there was nothing else to worry about.
(You Make Me Want To) Make a Memory
While there are certainly memories from the first time I was at Kingsley, this trip created many more.  And much like the anticipation leading up to the trip gives more value than the trip alone, reliving the memories helps the trip live on.  Some from this trip really stand out…
  • My brother’s miracle tap in par on #4 (topped drive into rough, hack out barely to the fairway, 7-wood to 1 foot).
  • The Kingsley Golfer’s birdie-less streak and how towards the end of the trip he’d get irked when someone else made one.
  • Jason McOlgan’s quest to post a real score for a round without at least one hole where he’d pick up.
  • My near hole-in-3 on #3 from the red tees.
  • My brother driving #3 and #4 in succession from the red tees.
  • My being in the right fairway bunker a little over a hundred yards from the green on #14.  It now has the unofficial title of “Gard Bunker”.
  • The Kingsley Golfer complaining about playing from the gold tees but still parring #1 and #10 in our only times playing from them.
  • The Kingsley Golfer complaining about my choice of tees for #9 in our head-to-head match. (For those who don’t know, the Kingsley Golfer enjoys complaining.)
Alan hitting one of many shots out of the Gard Bunker on #14
I’m sure we’ll be discussing these and others for many years to come.
Once again, I sincerely thank the Kingsley Golfer for allowing me to return to the Kingsley Club.  I appreciate the course and the Club itself even more after this trip.  

It is always wise to rake thoroughly when you know that you will be visiting the very same bunker later in the day.

Tee Variety - Holes #10 through #12

Hole #10 - The gold tee on the 10th hole is the first of three brutish options on the back nine for those with a soft spot for long par 4 holes.  The gold tee plays 446 and is located across the road back near the practice range.   

The 10th is a monster from the gold tees.  The white tee box is seen in the distance.  The blue tee is to the right on the top of the mound seen on the far right.
With the swirling winds we faced on our recent trip this hole was just as likely to play with a tailwind or a headwind, often times changing with each shot!  One of my favorite moments of the trip was when I caught a nice one from the tips on #10.  While the ball was in the air, I got an “attaboy” from one of my playing partners... only to see the ball fall short of the fairway and come to rest in the rough!  The blue tee weighs in at 393 and plays from a angle more to the right.  This tee is located a little more conveniently to the clubhouse, which is how I rationalize avoiding the gold tee whenever possible.  

The blue tee provides a different angle than all of the other tee boxes on the 10th.  Seen to the left is the red tee box.
The white tee makes the hole an even more manageable 364.  This tee is located back down to the left of the blue tee.  Finally, the red tee presents yet another option for a 300 yard par 4.
Hole #11 - The gold tees really start to show their teeth on the back nine.  While there is only 160 yards difference between the gold tees and the blue tees on the front, there is an astounding 320 yards difference on the back nine!  90 of those yards come on the two par 3s; 40 of them coming here on the 11th.  The gold tee at the 11th is listed at 180 on the card.  The blue tee plays from a similar angle, yet a much shorter 140 yards.  

The blue tee on the 11th hole.  The gold tee plays from a similar angle but much longer.    The white and red tees are forward and to the left.
The white and red tees are off to the left creating a new and fun angle for the player.  Those tees play 121 yards and 114 yards.  Hidden Gem: One of my favorite “hidden” tees is to play the 11th hole from the 18th tee.  It can be played from the 18th gold tee at 100 or less yards, with the green in full view or from the 18th blue tee at 120 to 130 yards to a mostly blind green.  This angle turns what I’d call a “false side” of the green from the normal tee into a pure false front that must be challenged.  

Playing the 11th from the 18th tee is a fun treat when the pin is located front left.  This brings both the false front and the small bunker into play.
Hole #12 - Another hole that stretches into a beast from the tips, the gold tee here plays 455.  The 12th tee is elevated and will often play downwind, but this is probably the most challenging drive on the course.  The fairway plays to a slight diagonal from the tee with some of the most penal rough on the course awaiting to the right for the player that challenges too aggressively.  There is more room than what appears to the left, so there’s no excuse to miss right.  The longer the summer wears on, the longer this rough gets.  When you miss right in September make sure to bring a search party with you!  The blue tee is still a stout test at 425.  The tee box is slightly less elevated than the gold tee box, and the angle is fairly similar.  

The scene of the blue tee on the 12th hole.  The gold tee is directly behind, though a much tougher battle.  The white and red tee boxes and be seen in the distance on the left.
The white and red tee boxes sit together at 335 yards.  These are down the hill a bit and much more to the left, not only reducing the distance but also giving the golf a straight down the chute view of this hole.  The short tees are fun to play when the wind is helping as you can really put the ball down close to the green with a well struck shot.


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