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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

 

Walden on Lake Conroe

They say: "Walden on Lake Conroe is a private golf club, open to residents and non-residents. Since its inception, Walden on Lake Conroe has enjoyed a reputation as one of the premier golf courses in Texas. As a representative of our membership committee, please let me take a moment to briefly acquaint you with our Club.
In the newly released 2007-2008 rankings, Walden is honored with a rating of #1 in the Houston Area, and #5 Best Golf Course in the State of Texas by Golf Digest!"
Mr Science played with his new friends from his trip to Ireland at my old club in Texas . . . I think he liked it . . . I won't rhapsodize about it again, here, but at this link . . . he did bring back some good pictures . . .

This is the par3 #4 . . . those two traps are like fielders gloves squeezing the narrow green . . . any pin position on the right 2/3s of the green is a sucker pin, but if you go long into that bunker on the back-left, that's no day at the beach . . . 8^D . . . what we used to do in tournaments would be to aim for that left front corner, and be content if the ball just wound up handy in the close-cropped area next to the green. Everyone I played with there had that shot, the bump-and-run up a 5 foot slope to the pin on the left . . . it was easier when you had more green to work with . . . 8^) . . . but in the 100s of times I played Walden, I've been way-left, right, behind, and in front of that green, too. Those are no picnic either . . . 8^) . . .

This photo looks back towards the 5th fairway on the left and the 6th green on the right, over the pond that separates those two holes. It's a pretty spot, as good a place to spend 11 shots as any other on the course . . . 8^D . . . I got my hole in one on #6. Those pines on the island don't really come into play on #6, but they can prey on your mind from some tee positions. The par 4#5 is a 90 degree dogleg right and the second leg slopes hard from the woods down to the water . . . That green isn't really elevated, but it feels like it is since it hangs over the water by a couple of meters.

I hate to give #7 short shrift, but we are skipping to the par4 #8, the #1 handicap hole at Walden, consistently voted for 3 decades as one of the most beautiful holes in Texas by the Dallas Morning News Poll of Club Pros . . . one of those holes, where, after one hits a perfect drive and a perfect approach, and holes out with a perfect 2putt, says, "I don't see why everyone says that hole is so hard?" It's tempting to try to draw a ball down into the dogleg left, but I had better luck when I just hit my power fade into the middle of the dogleg (125 yds away), then 9iron and hope for a birdie chance.
But say you pull left into the trees, ya gotta lay up; or say you block left into the trees, you might have a shot, but that's a very intimidating shot for a longiron or fairway wood, knowing the treacherous putts ahead or worse, the chips from above the hole.

This green was re-designed several years ago . . . controversially amongst the members at the time . . . the top 1/3 was levelled off, instead of the contiguous slope from the water to the humps . . . I remember a scramble where the pin was at the top right, where the ball broke 6 ft for a 6ft putt. It might be more interesting now, with that bowl behind the trap on the right, but it's easier, too. That is an unputtable pin position on that green adjacent to that trap on the right. . . the green looks kinda flat in this picture but there's at least 6 ft difference between the bottom near the bulkhead and the top tier.

#9 is the first of 3 straight par5s . . . a very unusual design feature, but seamless in the faultless & unique layout of Walden . . . The Tee shot looks down on the landing area across a water hazard, to a target bunker and trees on the left side of the fairway, which slopes back down to the water. The second shot depends on your distance from the green and your strategy: a large cross-bunker 80 yds short of the green and the ankle deep bermuda rough between the green and that cross-bunker make the layup seem smart, but the big trees on both sides of the fairway and the lightbulb-shaped elevated green make the 3rd shot approach very difficult. Having the sand & short game to take what breaks come your way, make going for this green more palatable, but bring double-bogey into play . . . I have 3 missed eagle putts on this green.
Skipping #10, to go straight to #11, the 3rd Par 5 in a row certainly saves time . . . sometimes I wisht I could playing, too . . . 8^) . . .

This is the 2nd shot, after a perfect 1st shot . . . you can't feel the wind whipping around the corner here, and it will affect your shot . . . for me it was always a long iron or a 3 wood, hoping against hope that it would stay left out of the water . . . it's about 13o from that last bunker on the left outside of the dogleg there. You have to have 3 good-if-not-great shots to reach the green . . . and the only birdies I ever made there were damn good putts, too . . . the green's not tooooo tricky, but it's huge, and sort-of funnel shaped down to the water. At one time, the members claimed there'd only been two eagles there, one by Freddy Couples, playing a warm-up round for the SHO at the TPC, on a pitch-in from 80 yds.

The par 3 #12 makes up the 2nd hole of what we used to call "The Perilous Peninsula": 11, 12, 13. Can be a 3 club swing either way, depending on the wind.

My goal was to par these three holes, and I think I did it, once. I averaged par over the 3 holes more often tho'.

My old partner, the Jaybird, used to say with satisfaction, "Safely in the trap" on this hole . . . 8^) . . . altho' coming out of those uphill traps to the downhill putting surface was sometimes a bit of a thrill ride, if you see what I mean . . .
but there would be some days, where you'd put 1 or 2 balls in the water on #11, the another one, or 2, in the water on #12, then hafta look at this tee shot with the wind in your face . . . that fairway would look kinda tiny . . . Mr Science said he lost a ball over in the woods on the left, and that would not be uncommon, and in many ways, more kind that finding your ball in the woods on the right, since it'd prob'bly be at least two shots to get out of there . . . that green is way uphill, too, and t-nightsy-tiny, too . . . I think they finally started putting a little fairway collar around the fringe there, too, instead of just ankle deep bermuda rough, to try to speed up play . . . this 'un, #14, & 7 were the three toughest greens, as I recall, for totally different reasons, I mean in different ways.
Now, if I could just get Mr Science out to Lufkin to see Crown Colony, also designed by Von Hagge & Devlin, and the TPC Woodlands, too . . .

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