The interesting thing about this chapter is that it doesn't necessarily recommend the three-hole grouping. Instead, it could be six holes, or nine holes, or one hole. The workbook, in fact, mentions that Jack Nicklaus instead of breaking a round up in to evenly sized pieces thinks of a round in terms of "opening holes, difficult stretches, easy stretches, and closing holes". That's a great way to think about it. That's almost the way I'd break up the course where I usually play: Par-line Golf Course in Elizabethtown, PA.
It's not the greatest course in the world; in fact, this season it's been in particularly bad shape between heavy rains, followed by extreme dry spells, followed by heavy rains. But it's 10 minutes from my house, and I can generally go out as a single any time my crazy schedule permits. The people there treat me well, and even though it's not the greatest golf course ever, I can generally find something interesting every time I play there.
In any case, this is how I might break up my round into mini-games on the Nicklaus model for Par-line:
- #1 & #2 - Opening holes
- #3 & #4 - Fairly easy stretch
- #5 - A hole that stands on its own . . . it seems like it should be an easy hole, but it often isn't
- #6, #7, #8 - Fairly easy stretch
- #9 - Probably the most difficult hole on the course, but if you hit the fairway, it's not bad
- #10 & #11 - Fairly easy stretch
- #12 - An odd par three
- #13, #14, #15, & #16 - These aren't that hard, but require some well-placed tee shots
- #17 & #18 - Closing holes
So looking at that breakdown, there aren't really that many "hard" stretches. Really, if you can get your tee shots in play it doesn't seem like it is that hard of a course. And actually, now that I'm playing a driver that I've been fitted for and I'm hitting more fairways with more distance, my scores have actually been dropping. Lately, if I'm not shooting relatively low, it's because of my putting.
Again, looking at the above breakdown, I feel like it would be reasonable to shoot at least one-under for each of the "easy" stretches above. I also think it's reasonable to think no worse than one-over for the other groups, which means that I could feel like anywhere from 68 to 73 would be a reasonable score for me on any given day. In fact, my last real round I played there was a 73, where I took a double-bogey on #1 with a penalty, a bogey on #18, and had a weird hole in one of the easy stretches where I topped the tee shot but stayed in the hole for a chance at par but lipped out the par putt for bogey.
Next time I get out to that course, I'll try to keep this segmenting plan in mind and report back how it works.