Jul
7
2010
I Celebrated the Fourth With a Threesome at Bayonne GC
By Stephanie Wei under General

As I wiped the sweat from my face while contemplating yet another bump and run on the sandy links of Bayonne Golf Club, I thought to myself “this is the best 4th of July threesome I have ever had.”

(I’m talking about golf, pervs!)

Anyway, as I was saying, I gripped the club like I was holding a bird…

(What? YOU PEOPLE ARE SICK!)

Okay, seriously. Reader Tim (who requested I give him a pseudonym to protect his identity) graciously invited me to play with him and his friend Rob (who I accidentally stood up that morning at the course’s special ferry) at Bayonne on Independence Day. Because some friends told me the course, which was built on one of America’s finest garbage dumps, was really, really hard, I was worried that I wasn’t going to break 90. And then when I had the shanks on the driving range, I was legitimately concerned I wasn’t going to break 100. I mean, just look at all that fescue! And while you’re at it, how cool is that clubhouse?

Now for my attempt to describe the course in coherent sentences. That wispy, straggly grass that wraps around your hosel bordered every hole — it was like there were islands of fairway surrounded by a sea of fescue. There was a ton of wind, which was sometimes very difficult to judge and made the course even more tough when the gusts increased in the early afternoon. Creative shotmaking was important, especially on the approach shots, where precision was a must because of the tricky yet fair greens and pins.

With the exception of the industrial backdrop (see pic below), it looked like I was playing in Ireland/Scotland, but it didn’t play like a true links course, where I’d have to play the ball off mounds and heed caution to the pot bunkers hiding in the fairway. In other words, it was kinda like fake links golf! Kidding. It was actually like a hybrid of links golf in New Jersey.

The urban views were oddly charming. Somehow, the illusion of Ireland combined with the heavy machinery at the reach of probably, oh, I don’t know, two par-5s, in the vista was compatible. I might even go so far to say the course is a spectacular work of genius. (But Mr. Shackelford would probably disagree.) In my amateur opinion, it was amazing in such a unique way that it’s tough to put in words. Frankly, I’m surprised how much I enjoyed it.

And it was much more impressive than Liberty National, where The Barclays was played last year (remember how much the pros hated it?). To be fair, I’ve yet to play Liberty National (and after this, I’m assuming I’ll never be invited, but I’d love to be), but I recall being underwhelmed the moment I stepped foot on the course. Sure, the clubhouse is beautiful — as much as it is ostentatious. As Rob put it, “Uh, were they trying to build a W Hotel?” The only thing Liberty has on Bayonne is probably the 14th hole with a lovely view of Lady Liberty to the right. (But she has her back turned to the course!) Then again, Bayonne has 18 great holes. I can’t recall one I didn’t like.

But maybe that’s because I played well. Remember how I said I was worried I wouldn’t break 100? That quickly changed after I birdied the first hole. As long as you hit it straight and stay out of the hay, then the course is manageable. And driving happens to be my greatest strength — well, my bunker play around the greens is a worthy contender — especially with my new driver, which I hit to the almost the same distance as Corey Pavin — like 250 to 260 yards. On one hole, my helpful caddie, Billy, calculated that my drive went 275 yards, but it was downwind.

I shot 82 — which I was told is awesome for my first time playing Bayonne — but it felt like a 75 or 76. I made two doubles and in a few of the starting holes, I’d hit two beautiful shots, but I misjudged the wind. And then I’d look back at Billy and glare at him with regret that I didn’t trust my instincts (who do I sound like?). He under-clubbed me initially, which was probably because I don’t hit my irons as long or as well as my driver or he just thought I had the same length as dudes. By the way, I’m totally kidding. I would have shot 92 without his advice because I would have over-clubbed on most of the holes and missed a lot of putts — I’ve always been awful at reading greens.

Here’s a video Rob took with his spiffy iPhone 4 of my tee shot on the 14th hole, a signature par-3, which was 177 yards on the scorecard from the tees I played. If I recall correctly, I hit a 6-iron to around ten feet. You might want to turn the volume up to hear what I say at the very end — see this video for reference.

Wei Rocks 14th Hole from Stephanie Wei on Vimeo — for the record, Rob wrote the captions.

As you may notice, my swing needs some polishing. It’s tough for me to look at right now. My backswing is more flat than usual, I’m taking it far too inside and I need to shorten it a bit — it should look closer to the swing in this video, which was taken in December ’08 and already a poor man’s version of my old swing. Yeah, yeah, I need to get over the fact that I don’t practice anymore, blah blah blah.

Overall, I guess I can’t complain. Sunday was only my fourth round of the season. Believe it or not, I’m ahead of schedule compared to last year. Oh, I’m playing my fifth on Friday at National. Yes, The National Golf Links of America. Be jealous.

Thanks again to “Tim” for inviting me and Rob for putting up with me. We’re playing for money next time if I’m lucky enough to play Bayonne again.