A Day at The Links at Union Vale: Wei Under Water
By Stephanie Wei under General

Turns out there’s a reason you’re supposed to head in to the clubhouse when the horn sounds. Duh. Well, my group and I were stupid and cut it pretty close today during our round (only my second of the year — sad!) at The Links at Union Vale in Lagrangeville, NY, today.

On the 7th hole, I noticed some bad weather moving in and thunder in the distance. When we were on the 8th tee, the horn blew. I looked at my playing partners and asked, “Should we go in?” No answer. More thunder. Lightning getting closer. “So, should we go in?” Someone replied, “Well, everyone else is still playing [in front and behind us].” Then after we hit our second shots on 8, a par 5, a bolt of lightning struck a tree like 10 yards off the fairway, near where one of my playing partners, Marcus, was standing. I was about 15 yards away and my back was turned, but I could tell it hit something close by — I felt some sort of residual shock and the air got all static-y. I walked over to Marcus and he showed me the tree it hit. Better the tree than me — or him. He said, “Um, I think we should go in now.” Then it started pouring. I mean, like torrential.

Naturally, I chose to wear a white polo and didn’t bring a jacket or umbrella, so basically I looked like I was participating in a wet T-shirt contest at Spring Break in Cancun or something. My good friend from college, who I’ll call “E” because he’s weird and doesn’t want his name on the Internet, grew up in the area and talked me into making the trip up last night. (Our five-year reunion is this weekend. Already!).

So, before we teed off, E decided we were going to walk instead of cart. I actually enjoy walking and carrying my bag (only after graduating college did I start doing that leisure golf in a cart thing) — but I was just worried I’d need a stretcher by the time we hit the 12th hole. Yeah, I’m really that out of shape. Pathetic, I know.

Good thing the two singles we were paired with each had a cart, so we hopped on and drove as fast as golf carts go to the clubhouse. Luckily, the storm passed after 20 minutes-ish. We went back out to the course, but it started pouring again for two and a half more holes. Then, the sun came back out. Hooray.

E wanted to leave, but I insisted we finish because 1) I never get to play, 2) I drove all the way up there, 3) I had made five straight pars after an awful start, and 4) I was playing with a driver my friend just sent me (many, many thanks!) — a Titleist 905R, 9.5 degrees with some type of Fujikura regular men’s shaft — and bombing the crap out of it (for the 5’2”, 100lb of me at least!). Oh, I’d like to apologize (again) to E for calling him the p-word repeatedly — I was joking around, but took it too far.

It’s really incredible how much more distance you get when you ditch your driver from the stone ages (my TaylorMade 320i from crica 1999) and play with a club equipped with that newfangled technology. I mean, holy crap! — I was pounding my drives 250-260 yards down the middle. No joke! I was playing from the men’s tees, which was about 6,300 yards and it seemed a little daunting beforehand because the course was tough and I figured I’d have to hit woods into the long par-4s. But I didn’t. Hooray. I even had a wedge into a 380 yard par 4 (and no, it wasn’t downhill).

/patting self on back

//rewarding self with a big fat cookie

So now you’re probably wondering what I shot, right? 82. (FYI, rating was 76.3/145.) But I started out with three double-bogeys. The course, which was founded by a group of Irishmen, is a fantastic yet tricky track — links style as the name implies — and I really recommend checking it out if you live in the area. Just be sure you have a yardage book or you’re playing with someone who’s familiar with the course. I dunked some well-struck shots into several hazards in the first few holes. I mean, dude, it was 280 yards to the gully off the tee on the second hole, and yeah, it was downhill, but uh, I didn’t think that would come into play. Some others crept up on me because I couldn’t see them (I know I’m short but the other guys had the same problem). Frustrating, but lesson learned. Now I’m totally itching to go back.

Other than the rough start, I was striking the ball pretty well. I think I hit around 12 greens, but unfortunately, I was hitting six to twelve footers like Sergio — missing every single one of them. Sigh. Putting was never my strong suit. And obviously it still isn’t. I’m feeling a 75 my next round, though — which will hopefully be in the Pebble Beach area in a few weeks.

And in the picture above, no, I was not picking my nose nor was I wiping allergens from it. Now excuse me while I take a handful of Motrin and figure out a way to ice and heat my entire body.