Fairwinds – beautiful but deceptive?

Sunday morning and the last course of the weekend is Fairwinds. Up early this morning and arriving at the course with not too much time to spare, but that’s OK. Hopefully, the swing is still locked in from the previous two days and shouldn’t take long to warm up.

We’re playing off the white tees at 5700 yards. The first is a par-4 dog-leg to the left and I asked the marshal if it was reachable if you cut the corner and he said it was but you were in deep trouble in the forest if you didn’t make it and not many people tried. So I played safe and hit a four iron into the fairway bunker. It was a fairly short wedge from there to the green though and I managed to save par.

I looked around while standing on the first green waiting for my partners and the grass was the deep dark healthy green with a couple of ponds and a couple of creeks, the ninth hole coming down the hill and the 3rd leading away and I thought to myself this was a great way to spend a sunny Sunday morning.

After firing a dead straight 7-iron to about 3 feet on the downhill par-3 second, possibly my best struck shot of the weekend, and making the putt for birdie, I was feeling like this could be the time I cracked it.

5th green from the trees

On the long third I nailed the drive down the middle of the narrow fairway and actually waited for the green to clear before completely fluffing a 3-iron, thinning the next shot and then hitting a wedge into the greenside bunker and ending up with a solid 7. Back to reality.

The 4th was stroke 1 and a monster into the breeze and had a soft lush fairway that gave me 6 inches of run as I only just jumped out of the pitchmark. I had a 5-wood to the green over water, which I managed to clear, but pulled it left into the bunker – another bogey.

There were some elevation changes on the next few holes and the trees encroached on the 5th and 7th, but that wasn’t my problem. Hitting the green with a wedge or a sand wedge was. I was actually driving the ball well, though just missing the fairway in most cases, but could not play the next shot. I had a wedge in on 5, 6 8 and 9 and missed the green on 5, 6 and 8 and was a combined 4 over for those three holes. I finished with a 6-over 41 on the front , but it could have been much better. Greens good, fairways good, putting actually reasonable thank goodness, beautiful day, well-manicured course; striking of golf ball with iron clubs graded at a solid D-.

Short 10th over the water

And it didn’t improve much on the second nine. I sunk a fair number of 5-footers for par or bogey after missing the green with a short iron approach shot. The fairways were excellent when I was on them and I can certainly testify as to the uniform consistency of the bunkers as I was in many, many of those – mainly greenside bunkers. I did avoid the creeks and the lakes though, probably because they were more in play off the tee shot that the approach.

The 14th is an interesting uphill par-3 with a huge slope from right to left and I hit a full four iron in there and managed a par. If I’d have been hitting a four iron for my approach more frequently, perhaps I would have scored better. Bogeys and single putt pars were mainly the order of the day on the second nine and I came in with a 6-over 42. 83 doesn’t sound that bad, but it was disappointing.

16th green

Fairwinds is for the most part a fairly friendly and short course off the white tees. Even the back, blue, tees only
have a total length of 6200 yards. It’s in immaculate condition and I did enjoy walking the fairways. There were deer walking around the 18th green again like yesterday (Those deer must know more about golf than we give them credit for – always by the 18th watching the finish) and I played the par-5 18th in a way that just summed up the round. There is water all the way along the right hand side from tee to green and I hit my tee shot down the middle, hit a good safe second shot and missed the green right into the bunker with a sand wedge. Down in 3 from there for a bogey 6 – oh, well.

I’d like to play Fairwinds again because I don’t think I did it justice and I think I can do better – but maybe it’s one of those sneaky deceptively difficult courses that doesn’t look too bad. Only playing it again will tell.

Shout out to the kitchen staff. As we finished our buddies weekend we were perusing the menu deciding what to have for lunch and the chef said he could come up with a couple of big plates of mixed appies for 5 bucks each. Very tasty and good customer service. Thanks.