LIFESTYLE

DUFFIN AROUND RALEIGH WITH JFK

Let me be sure to preface this article — I suck at golf.

I’ve been playing since I was about 6 or 7 when my parents signed me up for golf camp. I sucked. And while at least I can hit the ball in the air now, I still suck.

A typical round usually starts with a par, especially if the course leads off with a par 4. I’ll uncharacteristically hit a perfectly straight drive, surprising myself. I’ll then hit a typically thin iron around the green — rarely on it. Then I’ll usually pull off a decent chip or putt from off the green and finish it off.

“Decent start,” I’ll tell myself, with a self-satisfied smile. I’ll walk back to my cart with my head held a little higher.

On the next tee, my infamous power slice off the tee returns, and I’ll blast one into the wooded abiss to the right of the fairway, never to be seen again. The wheels falls off from there and I’m spending the rest of my round swearing and reaching for the next beer, scrambling to break 100.

That was the story again at Wendell Country Club a few weeks ago when I traversed out there with a few friends. Despite replaying my typical 18-hole routine — which I’m damned to repeat over and over again like Sisyphus and his stupid boulder —  I had an enjoyable afternoon.

There were six in our group and I didn’t organize anything, so I have no idea what the round cost. I paid one of the guys $15 about three weeks later because I’m good like that. But it had to have been pretty cheap. I think they got a deal on GolfNow. If you’ve haven’t used GolfNow, check it out — you can find tee times with carts for as low as $10 at some of the local tracks around the City of Oaks. Can’t beat it.

Anyway, I’ve had some mixed experiences when I’ve played a round for $15. If you’ve played enough golf, I’m sure you’ve run into some real goat tracks. Sand traps without any sand. Tee boxes so overgrown they look like my crappy front lawn. I’ve even seen greens that were spray-painted green to cover up the bald spots.

That was not my experience at Wendell CC. The course was in beautiful shape, especially considering it was offseason. There were no glaring issues anywhere — no overgrowth or bare spots, and the greens were well manicured. Kudos to their maintenance staff.

We played from the blue tees, which were the furthest back and I probably didn’t have any business playing. But there were better golfers in our crew we were playing team best ball, so I manned up. At only 6,147 yards from the blues, it’s not a long course. It’s also very fair.

Some of the holes parallel each other with a single row of trees between them, so if hit my power slice into oblivion or snap-hook one off the tee in certain places, you aren’t automatically dead. You do need to be accurate with your approach shots. And there is some water on the course.

When your game doesn’t place a premium on accuracy, this is convenient. I hit a few lousy drives, but in most cases, I could get it back on the correct fairway without having to dig through the woods for 15 minutes. Nothing pisses me off more than searching for a wayward drive.

This course’s teeth, in my opinion, are the greens. Many of the are small with a lot of undulation. They are tricky to read and I had a hard time figuring them out. They putted really true and were in terrific shape. You just have to putt well to stand up to the challenge, which I did not.

I can’t remember what I shot, and I wouldn’t tell you anyway. But if you’re looking for an affordable, enjoyable round of golf on a weekend, check out Wendell. It’s only about a 20 minute trip from the heart of downtown. North Raleighers, you can get out there in about 25-30 via 540 depending on where you are

Hit ‘em straight.