March 23, 2009

Trouble In Paradise

Diary: While in New Zealand, Golf Digest's Max Adler confronts some spectacular golf courses -- and some holes in his game

Max Adler often found himself scrambling to save par at the scenic but challenging Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand.

Max Adler often found himself scrambling to save par at the scenic but challenging Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand.

Editor's Note: Golf Digest's Max Adler, a former college golfer at Washington and Lee University, is among the thousands of dreamers who hope to qualify for this June's U.S Open at Bethpage Black. In his online diary, he'll take readers through the highs and lows as he gets ready.

Lulled into a false sense of security the evening prior with a 71 (+1) at 6,300-yard Rotorua Golf Course, the true state of my game came under spotlight at photogenic Cape Kidnappers. There'd be nothing better than to gaze at these pictures years from now and recall a great round, but not all dreams come true.

I opened with a double-bogey, and added two more before the day was done. Along with three bogeys and just one birdie, I limped home with a par at the last to shoot 79 (+8). I wish I could say the wind was howling, as it often can atop the 450-foot cliffs that perch the course, but the truth is we caught a fairly still day.

max

The only fact making my score slightly palatable is the course rating from the back tees is 76.3 and the slope 141. There was some initial hesitation at this tee selection from one member of our foursome. I graciously encouraged he play whichever tees he wanted, but added I didn't fly twenty hours to New Zealand to play part of one of their most famous courses. And since I'm trying to get ready for Open qualifying, I figure what doesn't kill me can only make me stronger.

Unlike a lot of courses that encompass improbable geography, Kidnappers is laid out to be a pretty manageable walk. Of all the groups playing there that day, I'd say half were hoofing.

And it proved good that I got to stretch my legs a bit, because the next day flying back to the US I drew a middle seat. My knees are still creaking.

But in good news, I returned home to find all the snow melted in my hometown of Stamford, Conn.

The next day, when I woke up at the crack of 1 p.m. with serious jetlag, I gathered my utility bill (to prove city residence) and drove to the muny to get my season's green fee pass processed.

The grass looked browner than a bottle of Old Crow, but it's official: Golf season has begun.