Today was the first day in four weeks away from Vancouver Island that we had to potentially deal with a dramatic change in the weather and we weren’t complaining.
Rain was in the forecast, but it did not materialize until an hour after we had finished playing the Oleander course.
The overcast and foggy skies accompanied with a temperate 68° day was a nice respite from the three weeks of intense heat we have enjoyed and at times endured.
The Oleander course design by Joe Lee’s talented colleague and partner, Dick Wilson, is a step up in challenge from the Indian Mound course we opened up with yesterday.
Again, like Indian Mound, it is basically flat with little or no elevation changes.
We were greeted by Pro Shop Supervisor, Matt Frazier. After a shorter warm up than day 1, we were guided to the first tee by the starter Rick.
To avoid the anticipated late afternoon rain, we teed off 30 minutes earlier than our 11:04 tee time with no one in front of us and no one behind us, it was like we had the course to ourselves.
Although some of the carnage left behind by Hurricane Irma was evident, the maintenance crew has done an exemplary job cleaning up numerous massive fallen trees and debris created by the ferocious winds.
Playing Oleander was a love affair for both Myra and me, good shots are rewarded, poor shots weren’t, but at no time were they treated unfairly.
The par fives are all magnificent and my personal choice for the signature hole on Oleander is the par 5 11th. Fairway bunkers complemented with three palm trees about 100 yards out on the right is a wonderful design feature.
Two of the four par threes require concentrated efforts to carry the water and for many golfers this can be a daunting process. Today it wasn’t, as Myra successfully got over both lakes on her opening shot and converted one of them into what she called a “Lake Par”.
There are numerous long meandering doglegs, both left and right, so even the shorter par fours require proper club selection off the tee.
This is a golf course that doesn’t have to try to be a good course – it simply is. More and more I realized why I was excited about coming here for the third time in my life and bringing Myra to experience the joy of playing the Jekyll Island triumvirate.
When it is just Myra and me playing and no one else is influenced by our presence I am part coach, part caddy and most of all full-time cheerleader. I don’t bring pom-poms though. Early in her golfing life, which is only three years old, breaking 60 was her goal for nine holes. Today for the third time she reached her new goal breaking 50 with a personal best 48 on the front nine. I am sure other golfers can relate to playing better when you’re playing partner is playing well also and I put together 40 and 41 for a solid 81. Myra faltered just a little, but her 57 on the back combined with her personal best 48 created another personal best of 105 and soon we will celebrate the inevitable, her breaking 100.
We also agreed on another inevitability, coming here for an extended holiday within the next few years. It’s an amazing island, Jekyll Island, and we went and toured the local museum on the island to get a better sense of the history of this very unique part of the U.S.A.
Our finale for the three days will be Pine Lakes which from memory is everything these other two gems of courses are. Again we went in and had another rewarding aspect of being golf course reviewers, engaging with the Pro Shop staff about our experience on the day.
Both Spencer and Matt allowed us to share some of the many positive details of our round and experiences about golf courses that we are very fortunate to review. We find that this type of warmth and courteous manner by the staff can be as integral to the success of a golf round as the actual features of the golf courses we all look forward to playing.
It’s no wonder since the early 1990s Jekyll Island has “always been on my mind”.