Play It Conservative At Seven Oaks Golf Course
Published: July 17th, 2015
By: Patrick Newell

If a poker player saw me make my first play, he would have advised me to fold, gather my chips, and go home. Sometimes, it just isn't your day.

We visited Seven Oaks Golf Course Monday afternoon, the we including Rick Ferris, Mark McLaughlin, and Mark's friend, Bill. This was Bill's "working lunch," so we are leaving his last name out of this article upon request.

I gained some solace that I wasn't the only one who suffered through poor play. In fact, I think we all struggled with not only poor shotmaking, but terrifically challenging greens that were as fast as any we have seen this season.

Mix in fluffy rough, water hazards, big, greenside bunkers, and pin positions that were in tricky spots, you would think the course was set up for a tournament.

Upon review, Seven Oaks was, indeed, host to a recent tournament as the U.S. Junior Amateur Regional Qualifier was held the previous week.

The course, challenging on any given day, was still flexing its muscles from the tournament conditions.

"I think the greens were a little faster and the rough was a little longer because of the (qualifier)," McLaughlin said.

Early on in the round, my playing partners let me know that Seven Oaks is a Robert Trent Jones design. Jones, who died in 2000, was among the more prolific golf architects designing ­– or redesigning – about 500 courses in the United States and around the world.

A Trent Jones design makes liberal use of bunkers and water hazards, and encourages "high risk, high rewards" play.

For us, it was all risk with very little reward. Not a one of us posted a score worth mentioning here, although I did set a new season high with seven three-putts. "When you're used to playing slower greens and then switch to really fast greens, it's a big adjustment," Rick said to me, offering up the excuse I was thinking of using.

What Rick did add to his statement is that the normally quick greens of Seven Oaks were at a lightning pace, so if you found yourself above the hole (I was several times), it was extremely difficult for the once-a-week golfer (me) to gauge the speed.

Aside from my opening stroke, a cold top down the left side of the first hole, I didn't completely embarrass myself in the ball striking department through the first two-thirds of my round. I saved that embarrassment for the end.

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