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Straight Outta Putt-Putt: 18 Holes of Golf Reality

I go to bed each night knowing my son thinks I’m the world’s best golfer.

Of course, I should say here that my son is only 7 years old.

And he’s never seen me play a course without a windmill or a clown’s mouth.

But while a lot of guys would be perfectly happy living the rests of their lives without spoiling such a mirage, I decided to go do something stupid – which, in my case, meant searching for a little more length.

Golf 2As it turned out, the Sanibel Island Golf Club provided precisely what a credibility-seeking adventurer was seeking. The scenic, lush 18-hole layout is a tick more than 12 miles from the ’Tween Waters Inn’s front door, residing just a stiffly struck 3-iron off Sanibel’s main drag at 1100 Par View Drive.

The spread plays a shade past 6,000 yards from the blue tees and a smidge less than 5,500 from the whites. Not surprisingly, given the fact that my game has gone exceedingly short since 2008, playing pal Michael Korb and I chose the latter option for a recent Saturday morning excursion.

Non-member weekend gatherings of one to four players can tee off for 18 holes as early as 7:30 a.m. and as late as 5 p.m., with regular costs ranging from $35 to $46 and specials bringing the bill a bit nearer to $30.

But while we were quite happy to get under way for less than a C-note, it wasn’t long before the glee turned to something else. After a 374-yard first hole that rewards unspectacular length so long as it stays straight, the second ratchets up the difficulty with water on both sides on the way to a diabolical 90-degree left turn in the fairway and a green that’s 18 feet smaller than its predecessor from side to side.

A dead straight 144-yard par-3 provides another faith-saving respite on No. 3 (the course’s easiest hole, according to handicap charts), but by the time we’d played the subsequent four holes – the sixth-, fourth-, 16th- and second-hardest by handicap – any lingering self-assurance had been firmly supplanted by timidity.

Water from nearly tee to green doesn’t help the nerves on either the eighth or ninth, and though the 10th is bone dry, it’s got just enough trees and green-side bunkers to keep the jitters close. A watery right-side dogleg is the main feature on 11, too, while 12 and 13 return to dead straight and 14 includes only a slight turn from right to left.

Golf 3The 15th plays 408 yards from the whites and is the facility’s most challenging hole according to handicap, thanks to a fairway bunker in play off the tee and the lovely (albeit inconvenient) presence of the Sanibel River down the entire right-side length. Two more bunkers guard the front sides of a rolling green that’s 29 yards from front to back.

The par-3 16th includes more water down the right side and bunkers that’ll snare shots both short of and over the green, while the par-4 17th requires an accurate tee shot over water and the homeward-bound 18th is a straight-on par-5 – albeit with a wickedly narrow fairway landing area and still more water ready to gobble up approach shots that meander too far from the short grass.

If the fiscal success of a round is measured by per-stroke cost, I came out well in the black. But, truth told, by the time our sojourn was done I’d have given my bag for a free-game hole.

And if it’s all the same to you, we can agree that my son is too young to hear any of it.

NOTE: Receive a 10-percent discount when you show your TWI keycard. Call ahead for a tee time at 239-472-2626.

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