Chips & Divots – In the Eyes of an Amateur

As a total golf amateur, I had no idea what to expect the morning before I hit Cape May Court House’s Laguna Oaks Par-3 course. I had heard that the course was not only scenic but also perfect for a beginner golfer. And never having picked up a club aside from a few mini golf putters, I was most definitely a beginner. For my companion on my first golfing venture, I decided I needed some one with enough experience to instruct me and who was innately obligated not to give up on me. My father was a clear choice. In my mind, looking the part was the first step to success. I woke up bright and early, selected my favorite polo, and threw on an athletic-looking baseball hat. My dad and I arrived at Laguna Oaks bright and early where the helpful staff set us up with a cart and explained the lay of the course.

The course uses the “Golden Golf” scoring system in which tee locations vary slightly while the par rating varies greatly depending on a player’s handicap. Owner Fred explained the especially tricky holes, joking that he couldn’t even estimate how many balls were lost to the water on hole 18. With professional counsel , we hit hole 10 for my very first attempt at a drive. Dad lined up first, showing me proper foot placement, the perfect grip, and how a swing should ideally look. Each Laguna hole has three sets of tees – blue, white, and gold – for varying skill and experience levels. My dad chose to tee up from the moderately difficult white tee, while I stuck to the shortest and most handicap favorable gold tee on every hole. “This can’t be too hard,” I thought. Thirty seconds later, as my nine iron hit the dirt under the tee completely uprooting a chunk of grass, I was proven wrong. I actually hit the ball on my second attempt, however, it veered left away from the green and off the course hitting a tree trunk.

On the next two holes, I started to get into the swing of things. My dad and I were playing a match of what he called “best ball golf” and together, we managed to stay on par. Admittedly, 95% of the best balls that we played actually belonged to him. But my putting skills shined through. On hole 11A, the course’s longest (180 yards from the blue tee), I lost three balls to the beautiful lake expanse between the tee and the green. “Let’s stick to putting,” joked my dad, firing me up and inspiring a greater effort. On hole 15, a waterless hole set amongst the course’s natural trees, my training finally fell into place. I decided to ignore my dad’s chuckles and focused on my swing. Once again teeing up from the gold tee, I struck the ball with a pitching wedge and to my amazement, watched it land on the green within 100 feet of the hole. While I missed the birdie, I was on par and this time the “best ball” that we played actually belonged to me! My stroke of luck did not endure and on hole 18, and I landed my first ball in the lake at the foot of the flowing waterfall.

While I did not prove to be any sort of golf prodigy, I actually enjoyed golf much more than I had expected. The “thwack” of the ball after a good hit and watching it soar through the air on those few successful drives made my concentration and frustration worth the struggle. What will be the future of my golf career? While you can’t expect to see me on the LPGA Tour any time soon, I’m determined to hone my golf skills. Catch you on the links!

By Meg Kummer