Conquering Kitchen Creek

At risk of sounding cocky, the Times’ foursome is going to kick major butt at Confederation College’s fifth-annual Scholarship Golf Tournament this Friday out at Kitchen Creek.
Sure, it’s supposed to be a “fun” tournament, with the very important goal of raising funds to help local students pursue post-secondary education here. But don’t worry, we’ll be smiling and laughing all the way to the winner’s circle.
Because I’m a good sport, though, and given the fact Friday’s tournament no doubt will attract a lot of novice golfers as well as out-of-town ones, I’m willing to share my prowess on the local links (just ask anyone who’s seen me in fine form at the Frog Creek Open each fall) to offer a brief rundown of how to conquer Kitchen Creek.
The first hole, for instance, is a relatively simple par-four. A good, straight drive out past the fairway bunker leaves a short pitch onto an elevated green.
Avoid–at all costs–putting your drive into the golf cart compound off to the right. It makes for a long second shot, and members (don’t ask me why) get a little miffed seeing the flash of a two-iron amid their precious little vehicles.
The second hole is a difficult par-five. The really good golfers try to drive the marshy area that dissects the fairway but for the rest of us hackers, anything that doesn’t nail the foursome putting on the first green is a good shot.
Of course, hitting your drive off the greenskeeper’s shed down the left-hand side and having it ricochet across the marshy area works, too.
Moving ahead to #5, a 150-plus yard par-three, don’t be intimidated by “Bug’s Pond” sitting between you and the green. Here, the trick is to avoid a high, short drive that plunks straight down into a watery grave.
Instead, hit a low liner that skips across the water, hits the far bank, and pops up onto the green, leaving you with an easy birdie putt.
The seventh hole is another short par-three (under 140 yards). The difficulty here is club selection–the fine line between hitting the ball into the creek in front of the green or over the train tracks and onto the eighth tee.
If you can’t hit it straight, it’s better to miss right than left, especially if there’s a group teeing off at #13.
At the par-four ninth, hitting a straight drive is critical to setting up a birdie try. Miss left and your ball will bounce down Highway 11/71 back towards town (unless, of course, it’s stopped by the windshield of a passing vehicle). Go right and you risk killing someone putting on the 10th green.
The good news in the latter case is that at least you won’t be out-of-bounds.
Oh, then there’s the short but fiendish par-three 11th, with water guarding the front and right side of the green, and bush to the left. And be warned, landing your drive on the green is no guarantee of a birdie or par given it’s sloped like an Alpine downhill ski run.
Sitting below the hole is crucial to leave a makeable uphill putt. A downhill putt from above the hole invites the risk of barely tapping your ball and watching it wind up in the creek 50 feet away.
A four-putt from within two feet is very possible here.
Number 13, on the other hand, is a fairly long par-three (close to 200 yards) that will require some hackers to pull out driver on the tee. The danger here is missing the fairway (let alone the green) from the tee box and then convincing yourself you couldn’t do that twice in a row.
Well, you can, as Harvie “Reload” Evans found out the hard way–several times–some years ago. Nothing balloons your score more than lying nine and still being on the tee!
Up ahead at #17, a devilishly long par four, you have to aim for the bull’s-eye up in the trees standing behind the green that’s hidden from the tee. Again, a long, straight drive is critical here otherwise you may need long iron shots just to get within chipping distance of the putting surface.
And finally, the 18th, another longish par-four but that is reachable in two–even for hackers. What you must avoid here is over-hitting your approach shot (to impress the gallery) and smacking the kid selling smokies at the foot of the clubhouse steps.
Well, there you have it. Oh, and before you head out, take local chiropractor Dr. Shayla Kennedy’s advice elsewhere in today’s paper and do some stretching exercises before taking to the links. She says it will improve your game, and reduce the risk of injury.
After all, nothing’s worse than pulling a muscle while trying to flag down the bar cart.

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