Links golf presents a lot of challenges to the truly average golfer

My traveling group decided to head north this week. Our destination was the Maumee Bay State Park and its links golf course. I am not sure which member of our gang decided that playing this particular course would be a good idea, but when I find out, a serious conversation will take place.

Actually I jest a little. The course is in great shape and my front nine score was not bad. Unfortunately, they made me play the back side as well and let’s just say my game slowly unraveled. I hate it when you can’t wait for a round to be over. It has to be the course that is the problem. Certainly it can’t be my golfing ability. Can it?

Let’s first take a look at the course as described on their website. Arthur Hills designed Maumee Bay Golf Course in 1991. It is situated on 1,850 acres of protected wetlands. Now that line by itself suggests trouble. Golf balls and wetlands don’t exactly go together. Never mind that you are supposed to avoid the “wet” parts of the course.

Another line also grabbed my attention. It suggested that the Scottish-links layout is wide open. I should consider suing the website for false advertising. What they meant to say was that there are no trees on the course. Normally a good thing to us average duffers, another eye-catching word in the description belied the “wide open” claim.

You see, the course features tall fescue. In case you are not familiar with this type of vegetation, I should point out that it consists of grass high enough and thick enough that you will be lucky to just hit out of it. That is, if you can find your ball to begin with.

All right. If you haven’t heard enough of my bellyaching, let me throw one more curveball at you. Maumee Bay Golf Course is located just off of Lake Erie and is subject to strong crosswinds. On this day, the wind was calculated to be between 15-20 miles per hour. Yes, I have heard the phrase that a “well struck shot is not affected by the wind.” That may be another golf myth.

Let’s just say that when you have to hit driver on a 180-yard par 3, well, the wind is indeed a factor.

All right enough about the difficulty of the course. Maybe the worst thing that happened to me came after we drew for playing partners. We all have handicaps and I was informed that mine had dropped three strokes from the week before. I was not happy to hear that. Neither, I might add, were the guys that got stuck in my foursome.

So how bad was my game on this day? Well, I shot a respectable – for me – 40 on the front nine. I was in the fescue once – used more club than was needed playing into the wind and that darn “well struck shot” thing got me – resulting in a double bogey. I had one other double on the front as well as a bogey. A chip in birdie on a par-3 that had no business going in kept my score decent.

The back nine was a totally different story. I hit one shot in the water because I didn’t know there was water over that hill. Had I known, I would have aimed further right which may well have brought the fescue into play. It’s always something.

To be truthful, I just didn’t play well enough to score any better. The silver lining might be that shooting 47 on the back may well bring my handicap back down for next week.

Despite all my caterwauling, I enjoyed my experience at Maumee Bay State Park Golf Course. They have a nice course and great rates for seniors. The fescue, however, really should be avoided. The water is plentiful and checking out where it is located is paramount.

The one thing I really missed was the lack of trees. I mean there was not a single tree anywhere. In the future I promise never to complain about trees. At least not until I get directly behind one with nowhere to go.

Geez this is a tough game.

Al Stephenson is The Advertiser-Tribune’s golf columnist.

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