No good can come from realizing that you have played six consecutive rounds of golf with the same golf ball. The degree of self-satisfaction that this realization creates will likely be erased soon thereafter, in my case by losing three balls into the same pond.
I decided to check out Westchester Golf Course, likely the country's only 15-hole track, because of its oddly truncated routing and because it has night golf. The course was worth a try for novelty's sake. I made bogey on the first, then, after playing it safe by hitting a 7-iron short of the water on the second, keplunked three in a row into the drink. 7, wedge, wedge. Ah, the benefits of a proficient short game.
Other than that, however, I played very well, despite not dropping any putts. I had five or six shots that were among the best I've ever hit: A pitch from 60 yards to six feet; a wedge over a very tall palm tree to 20 feet; a chip from 60 feet to six inches; a putt from 63 feet to one foot. But the shot of the day, and maybe of my life, was a 7-iron on the 13th from 155 yards to 10 inches. I knew it was nearly perfect when I hit it, then we watched it cut through the dark towards the lighted green, landing four feet past, then backing up to kick-in distance. It was my only birdie but was nearly better than that.
The course will open three additional holes on February 19, so this was likely my only chance to play a par-51 course. It was a decent test, and the greens held so well that every single approach (not including chips) bounced backward, stopping behind its pitch mark. Another oddity (other than the planes endlessly roaring overhead—LAX's control tower is in view from many of the holes) was the fact that the 15th is a par 3 that plays 220 yards, with a gaping bunker left and a grass bunker right. Playing it in the dark, with the distant green eerily lighted, is tough; the fact that it is the Number 5 handicap hole is absurd.