When you’re a 23-to-infinity handicapper, nearly every course is grander than you deserve. It’s just that some are more so, and The Ranch Club is among those. For me, the usual tipoff is cloth napkins in the dining room. This place got in my head early.
Item one: it’s a links course. Seeing virtually no trees, it’s easy to assume trouble will be hard to find. This theory can be disproved in fewer than 18 holes, though I decided on the larger sample.
Item two: water. On one par-5, the 12th, there is not just one but two oceans in play, and whatever goodwill this fine course had established to this point was pretty much undone by having to serpentine both the Atlantic and Pacific.
But the views of the Clark Fork Valley are exceptional, and it’s a first-class experience. It might even motivate you to take a lesson.
If you really suck, can you still have fun? Hints from the GPS caddies wired into each cart can be helpful, like one that recommended — on eastbound holes — aiming toward the “L” on Mount Jumbo if your tendency is to slice, or the “M” on Mount Sentinel if you’re prone to a hook. It did not advise how to know what you’ll do on that particular swing, however.
Our golf guy is full of it: I’m not sure there is a set of tees for my competence level.
Lost ball update: 9. Five in the water. Three out of bounds. One a raging banana slice on what was a perfectly good swing that I didn’t bother to look for. I don’t want that traitor in my bag.