My uncle texted me earlier this week about playing a round for my birthday at Windyke Country Club. Never having found a round of golf I didn’t like, I naturally accepted. Stan is my mother’s brother, but to me, more like the brother I never had. I have always looked up to him, so whenever I get a chance to spend time with him I do not hesitate. Windyke would be the closest golf course too my office if not for being directly behind the 2nd green at TPC Southwind. It hosts two championship 18-hole courses, the East and West, as well as a legit Par 3 course which is one of the few in the area. Stan was on the practice green when I rolled up a few minutes late and we headed straight to the first tee.
Disclaimer, Stan asked me to not share his score but I will highlight some of his better reactions and shots throughout the round. His reactions tend to be very Tyrell Hatton-esque. We play from the gold tee’s which play 6,322 yards on the West Course, but with fast greens and tight fairways it poses a challenge for anyone. The first hole is a dog leg left down the hill. The corner is guarded by large oak trees with limbs outstretched into the fairway. I cut as much off the corner as possible with my draw and end up in perfect position about 85 yards from the hole. My approach ends up about 20 feet past the hole and am happy to settle for a two putt on these slick greens. The 2nd plays at 392 yards, moving right to left at the last third of the hole. Today the pin is tucked on the top shelf behind a large bunker. My drive splits the fairway leaving me a lob wedge into the green. With 87 yards left, I cut it in there to about 5 feet giving me a great look at birdie. Stan got up and down for his par from off the back of the green. I’m still working on the new LHL stroke. I’ve been making more puts of length but the short ones are still in the fine-tuning stage. I lip my birdie putt out on the low side, no excuses, it was a straight push so we move to the Par 3 third. The tee box backs up a beautiful meadow and some hardwoods. Stan tells me he usually sees deer and turkeys back there. There were none to be found on that day, I guess they heard a real hunter was on the course… All I found myself hunting for was a way to keep my ball on the green after getting a fried egg lie in the front bunker. I do well to keep it within 10 feet from the hole but miss my attempt for a Sandie coming back.
Number 4 is a relatively short, dog legged left Par 5. Only playing 453 yards on the card, I was still able to go for the green after my tee shot got knocked down by the big pine tree at the corner. I snap hook a 3-iron hybrid 50 yards left of the green forcing me to pitch over a bunker and have only about 15 feet to work with.
I get over the bunker but am still short of the green. From there I chip and have 2 putts for a disappointing bogey. We right the ship on the short Par 4 5th. You have to hit less than driver here because of the pond that guards the left side of the fairway and green starting at about 250 yards. My 3-wood finds the center of the fairway leaving me a wedge into the green, which leads to a routine par. Number 6 plays a similar yardage to that of five but is a hard dog leg right and I make the mistake of blocking my driver into the right woods. Attempting to hit a low running 4-iron, slice, up to the green, it goes dead straight and behind the 11th tee box. I’m left with a blind pitch, thru an 8’x8’ opening and a green that slopes away. I end up about 25 feet away and two putt for my bogey.
STAN UPDATE: He is plotting along fairly well at this point; a few missed chips and putts have irritated him but nothing too bad. #7, the second of the Par 5’s on the front, plays an even 500 yards and moves down the hill and to the left. My drive finishes just in the edge of the rough on the left side of the fairway so I hit a swinging low draw that runs up close the green. I get up and down for my first birdie of the day which feels good after a few squandered opportunities. Eight on the West has always been a tough hole for me and today was no different. I block a 6 iron that hits the top of the right side of the green, kicks dead right, across the cart path and onto the hard-pan under a massive Oak that hasn’t had a haircut since its planting. I punch a pitching wedge under the limbs that hits pin high but runs to the other side of the green. Nestled up against the collar, my goal is just to get it close. I hit the putt and immediately yell “low side every time!” but just as the words come out of my mouth Stan starts coaxing it toward the hole and it somehow drops. We high-five and I somehow escape with a par that honestly was pulled out of my ass. The 9th is another short par 4 that moves right to left, marking about 6 out of 7 Par 4’s and 5’s that shape that way. My drive is pounded dead straight, lacking the required draw, and goes thru the fairway and into the trees on the right. The lake in front of the green forces me to punch back into the fairway leaving me about 65 yards to the back, pin location. I spin one to about 15 feet and lip out my par putt. Nothing worse than a bogey to finish off the front nine. I finish the front with a 39. Stan on the other hand had a rough stretch the last few holes and is quite perturbed.
The back nine starts off with a Par 5 that shapes almost identical to number 1 which is adjacent to 10. I hit a good drive that takes a bad kick left and puts me behind a pine tree. forcing me to hit that same 4 iron as before. With a similar result I chip up and two putt starting off with a par. The 11th is a disaster. The hole is only 345 yards and pretty straight. The trees creep into the fairway on the right side about 75 yards from the green. I hit right into them, then sky a wedge into a limb that comes right back to my feet, duff my next shot and end up with a double. Another wayward drive on 12 and a punch shot that ends up short of the green leads to a bogey. Talk about a lovely start. Nothing gets back on track like a 200-yard, uphill par 3 surrounded by bunkers, just a hint of sarcasm there. I flush a 5 iron that somehow finds a flat spot on the turtle backed hump on the left side of the green. What do I know about physics, I made a D in that class? The 100ft putt has about 12 feet of break in it and I played about 7, follow that with a missed 6-footer for par, we are right back on the bogey train. I go full scramble mode on the next 3 holes which include a nice 15-footer for birdie on the Par 5 14th that I thought was a par 4, followed by back to back pars on 15 and 16. That brings us to the 155-yard Par 3, 17th.
It’s a full forced carry over water and a green that is set in a bowl, surrounded by a 6-foot bank on the other three sides. Stan hits first and hits a perfect high fade that we thought was going in. It ends up about 6 feet away. I step up and hit the same shot, Stan literally thought it was going to hit his ball. Lucky for both of us, it didn’t and stuck about 3 feet away. With our best two looks at birdie all day, there was no doubt in my mind that we would both make out 2’s. INSERT LACK OF FOCUS HERE. Stan lips his on the high side and begrudgingly taps in for a 3. Now my wheels are turning, “do what Tiger would do, take all the break out and ram it in the back”, well I did all of that except ram it, and it caught the lip low side and finished behind the hole. The big middle finger arises from the cup. Both of us re-putted and made them dead center, but the score card will show pars for both of us.
FINAL STAN UPDATE, after a rough patch to end the front nine and the first few holes on the back, he has put together a nice last few holes including 2 pars and a bogey. We step up to the tee on the 18th, a 372 yard, down hill, dog legged left Par 4. Stan hits a perfect drive and great approach shot to about 18 feet, leading to an easy par. I hit mine straight with a slight fade which sends me in the wrong direction. I hit a knock down 9-iron under the tree limb in front of me and come up just short. An 8-iron bump and run seems to be the right play since I’ve played my wedges so well, today right? Wrong, I only get it halfway there which puts me in 2 putt range. I just miss my par attempt and end on a bad note with the bogey and a 79. That feeling quick fades with a handshake and a hug from Stan. We haven’t played a round in a couple of years and this was truly a round I will cherish for a while. Think about a friend or loved one you haven’t hit the links with and give them a call. Get out there and make some memories with them. The days are getting a little shorter and the weather a little cooler, soon these rounds will move to a duck blind but for now, I’m going to soak up the evening light as long as I can..
The West Course, which is the easier of the two courses at Windyke, was in solid shape. The greens were perfect, both fast and receptive. With he recent rain from Tropical Storm Gordon, the fairways and rough were lush. One negative was there was hardly any grass amongst the large trees. If I could stay out of there it wouldn’t be an issue but sadly that isn’t a reality. Overall, I’ll give the course a 7.1/10. The course is as traditional 1960’s as it gets and lacks in the originality department. Obviously, it poses enough of a challenge to keep low handicappers honest but won’t beat the brains out of a mid to high handicapper. They have a great junior membership, have tennis, a pool, great range to go along with 36 holes of golf. I’ll be back later in October for the ABC Golf Tournament that is on the East course, so we will review it when the time comes.
For more info about Windyke Country Club see the link below.
Have a good weekend and stay out of the Tight Lies.