Golf at Pelican Sound – Naples, Florida

Playing my first golf of the Season at Pelican Sound River and Golf Club

Yesterday I was invited to play a round of golf at The Pelican Sound River and Golf Club in Naples, Florida. A good friend, Anne, and her husband winter at the resort, playing at least three rounds of golf each week. Needless to say, they are dedicated to the sport. I joined her for the Tuesday afternoon scramble sponsored by the club. Tuesday mornings is “Ladies League Golf” and by the afternoon the rest of the golf community are eager to play. The only way to handle the crowds is to set up a scramble.

I got to the club early enough to grab a quick lunch and then spent a few minutes hitting some balls on the practice range and putting green. Not nearly time enough. After three months off the golf course, I was out of my “zone,” to say the least.

Pelican Sound River and Golf Club is a resort community with three 9 hole golf courses at it’s center:  Lakes, River and Sound. Each is a challenge for golfers of all abilities. Narrow fairways with both water and dense grasses, palm trees and palmettos on either side, undulating greens and bunkers everywhere, each of the three courses is a test of anyone’s golfing skill. I found that out fast enough.

My friend Anne and I were partnered with another golfer, Robert, a local who plays at least once a week when he is not tending bar at one of the nearby hotels. The format for the afternoon was a shotgun scramble and we began our 18 holes on #9, the last hole on the Lakes Course. (I have to be honest and say that it could have been the River course… when you are new to a golf course and you are not marking the card, it’s sometimes hard to focus on which of the three courses you are playing… they are all beautiful. I decided to just sit back in the cart and enjoy the ride. Anne drove and kept our score.)

I hit the fairway with my first drive and was feeling pretty confident until my second shot which landed my new Titlest Pro VI ball in the pond. I grabbed another new ball and hit again, this time it went straight across the fairway and into a tall stand of palmetto. Ok, first hole, two lost balls, this was going to be a long afternoon. Feeling a little sorry for me, my friend offered me a couple of old balls from her collection and I kept on playing.

I tried to take the game seriously, keeping score, following the rules, but after the fourth lost ball and a score rapidly approaching an all time high, I decided to just give it over, relax, forget the score and just play for fun. It was the right decision and made the afternoon a lot more tolerable. My friend was more than patient and Robert, the third player in our threesome said it best. “You’re just getting rid of some of the rust from the winter.” A good player, he was very patient with my military style of play: hook, then slice, left, right, left, right. I felt like I was hitting everywhere but straight down the fairways.

The group in front of us was slow, the group behind, pressing us to move faster. I was loosing balls literally left and right, and then it began to rain. Not hard and not for long, just one of those Florida afternoon showers. There were moments when I wanted it all to end. But we persevered and though I picked up my ball more than once just to keep the game moving, there were moments when I just wanted to scream!!! I had to keep reminding myself, this is only a game, it’s your first time out for 18 holes and you have a lot of “rust” on your game you have to shake loose.

Bottom line, I lost 8 balls in 18 holes. Pathetic. But we had fun and I’m glad I played. The course is beautiful but challenging and probably not the best choice for a first round of golf for someone with “rust” on their game. The club house and amenities were beautiful, the staff helpful and the course in excellent shape. I would definitely play Pelican Sound again next time I am in Naples.

Question for you: when you haven’t played the game in a while, how do you start your season? Driving range? Putting green? Or do you just head out and play a few rounds just to get in the “zone” again?

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