The Capt. Ayre Lake website lists, as one of its amenities, a “rugged golf course.” What it doesn’t do is explain that the course is a challenging nine holes carved out of the dry, tough grass and cactus covered prairie. Bushes and stunted trees abound and from hole 3 there is a nice view of a pristine pond and beaver dam. The fairways are so hard this time of year, that even a moderately hit hay burner bounces and rolls, well, a country mile. The greens, themselves, are sand greens hieing back to a simpler time when small town golf courses used oiled sand as greens. Players were responsible for raking and smoothing the green after putting so that the next group had a good surface, too.
The best part, to my parsimonious heart? The green fees were $3 for the nine holes. You do get your three dollars worth. In three rounds my golfing partner and I managed to lose a ball down the middle of the fairway. We looked and looked and finally concluded, improbably, that it had gone down a gopher hole. I spent some time looking for balls I’d whacked into the bush. My partner found seven that were not mine in the trees at the side of one insanely narrow approach to the green. Numerous tees snapped off in the hard ground. Wasps buzzed around threatening to spoil yet another great drive. One of my shots went into a steep little ravine populated by dry, thorny plants. I almost fell retrieving the ball. Putts were demanding. The sand on the greens is no longer oiled or even worked up. Your shot just bounces along and depends on luck.
Despite its obvious opportunity for frustrations, the course offered some definite advantages. We were the only players. There was no course marshal to hurry you along, no impatient players hoping to play through as we hopeless duffers searched for yet another lost ball. It was like a chance to commune with nature. Butterflies and birds. A flash to the past with its outhouses, where pulling down the toilet tissue in one brought out a promethea moth which, unused to daytime activity, fluttered away in confusion. A good drive or putt seemed especially rewarding considering the challenges.
It seems you don’t need to be at Pebble Beach or one of the Trump (perish the thought) courses to enjoy a round with the clubs. If you want to have fun, you will and the Little Hazard Golf Course provided it in abundance.