Labor Day weekend is past, kids are back to school, the weather is shifting cooler here in Detroit, and Fall is technically only 8 days away. Belle Isle Golf is set to close sometime in October, weather pending. After spending much of the day on my laptop, I decided to head over to Belle Isle to play the 6-hole Par 3 course while the weather is still warm enough to play.
I love Belle Isle. Astrologically, with me having a birth chart that is so heavy in air and light in water and nature, going over to Belle Isle to be surrounded by water (it's an island) and amongst the nature really helps balance my energy out and get me out of my head (air). Subjectively, I would say that I feel better after just about any trip I make over to Belle Isle.
I'd have to check the exact distances, but the Par 3 course's holes are only about 35-80 yards each. At the moment, the greens are long and slow. I'll usually just bring my sand wedge and three balls, pitch three balls in to each green, and then putt out with my sand wedge so as not to throw off my putting for fast greens in professional tournament play. From there, it's just going around and around taking in the water and nature.
On my first go around, I played for score, also focusing on making hole-in-ones. I hit the flag stick on #2 and I almost had a hole-in-one on both #4 and #5, both finishing on the back side of the hole.
It's been awhile since I had a hole-in-one. The three that I have are from Pebble Beach's Peter Hay Golf Course on November 6, 2004, October 9th, 2005, and October 10th 2006. I remember thinking how awesome it was to get one every year. Little did I know that 17 years later, I'd still be stuck on 3. I've been close again a lot over the years…and even since we've lived in Detroit since Halloween of 2020 and I've been playing Belle Isle Golf, I've hit the flag and been within inches a number of times.
I realize I'm incredibly lucky to have the ones I already have, but I hope to one day have more!
There's a lot about Golf Digest that I'm not a fan of - click bait, non-golf related content, exaggerated word choice, ads framed as articles and the related lack of transparency to readers/viewers about advertiser relationships, etc. These are the types of things we need to evolve past as a society and they are in part why I don't subscribe to the magazine anymore nor click on certain types of content.
However, I did really enjoy this video from today that showcases Pebble Beach's recently renovated par-3 Peter Hay Course, now called The Hay.
First of all, I really love well thought out meaningful creations, I very much enjoy quality work/products (I'd rather have 1 awesome thing rather than 10 crappy things), and as someone who is excellent with efficiency, spatial arrangement, intuitive design, and improving things, in the video I really appreciate:
The apparent smart flow of traffic from the new range area, through the short course, down to Pebble Beach's clubhouse
The arrangement of holes to maximize the view of the bay (this wasn't done in the original design)
The fun variety of shot options (ex. being able to putt from the tee box on 8 of the 9 holes, incorporating different hole directions, etc)
Mimicking the famous 7th hole from the main Pebble Beach Golf Links courses
The selection of yardages to tell a story about Pebble Beach's history
This new renovation looks spectacular and I'm very excited to play it one day.
The video further tugged at my heart strings for two very important personal reasons.
I first moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea in early 2004 towards the start of my golf career. At the time, there was this deal where you could hit unlimited range balls and play Peter Hay as many times as you want for around $400/year.
It was a fantastic deal for locals…and particularly for a guy like me who was dealing with circumstances of student loan debt, credit card debt from having switched to my golf career, and an income near the poverty line.
I don't want to come across as name dropping or putting people on pedestals, but because it was Pebble Beach, there would always be well-known people playing there. I remember seeing Kenny G and Clint Eastwood. I walked 18 holes chatting with Charles Howell III at Del Monte. Nick Watney was kind enough to give me golf advice about going from the then Nationwide Tour to the PGA TOUR. I hit balls and chipped with Rocco Mediate, who I found to be so lovely, friendly, and engaging.
I'd hit tons of balls and play Peter Hay over and over. I shot the unofficial course record of -6 for 9 holes and it's where I've had my 3 hole-in-ones.
1st Hole-In-One - November 6th, 2004 - 9th Hole - 9-Iron from 74 yards
2nd Hole-In-One - October 9th, 2005 - 8th Hole
3rd Hole-In-One - October 10th, 2006 - 3rd Hole
Off and on from 2004 to 2006, I lived all around the peninsula in a number of places that included:
Carmel-by-the-Sea (rented a bedroom in a cottage for $200/month)
Seaside (rented half of an old construction trailer in a back yard)
Carmel (rented a basement studio for $500/month)
I played Bayonet, which hosts PGA TOUR Q-School and US Open qualifiers. I played Poppy Hills Golf Course (formerly hosted a PGA TOUR event) and the Preserve Golf Club. I drove past Cypress Point Club often. I passed my PAT (Playing Ability Test) for the PGA of America at Laguna Seca with a 78-72.
At one point, I also worked for the Pebble Beach Company at Spanish Bay and was fortunate to play the company's four courses (Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, The Links at Spanish Bay, and Del Monty Golf Course) many times for free as an employee.
If you haven't ever made a trip out to this part of the country, I'd highly recommend it. You can fly in direct to the small Monterey airport. However, San Jose is only about an hour drive towards the north…and San Francisco and Oakland (and Napa Valley for wine drinkers) are similarly close within about two hours.
Here is a current snapshot of my lag putting over the last 2 weeks...50 randomized putts from each distance with no 2 putts being the same and no distances repeated twice in a row. Average distance of all 3-putts was a little over 50 feet.