Playing in the 2024 Oregon Public Links Championship at Mallard Creek GC

This year, the Oregon 27th Public Links Championship was held at Mallard Creek Golf Course, located near Lebanon and a little town called Waterloo, on the weekend of June 29th and 30th.

My amateur golf season this year includes this two-day tournament and the Christmas Valley Golf Course 4th of July 4-man scramble tourney, which is coming up in two days.

Since this is the only OGA event I’m playing this year, I decided to go on Friday and play the free practice round. Good thing I did because Mallard Creek is a tricky course full of trouble — it helped to scope things out, although my scores didn’t show it.

Interestingly, I shot the same score three days in a row, a +19, 91 on a par 72 course. The last two days are what counted, the weekend, where I shot a total of 182 (+38).

That score resulted in me finishing overall T64 out of 79 golfers and T48 out of 56 golfers in the Championship division (tied for last among those who finished in the harder division). A disappointing finish for me, yet not a total disaster.

Bogey golf at its best is never too bad, yet I went into the event hitting the ball better than ever and putting well, so it was disappointing. I played well, just got into too much trouble in the end, even stubbing my putter once when trying to tap the ball in from a few inches!

The course was around 6700 yards from the black/blue tees and the rating was around 73.8/137 (they changed it slightly from the black tees for the tourney specifically). It was a hilly course with trees, water, and a unique design that made placing your shots at a premium.

I did have a birdie for each round, including the practice round. The worst hole I had was a +4 over on Sat., and too many doubles and triples on both days to shoot in the 80s with the handful of pars I managed to get.

Here’s how it worked out for 36 holes:

2 birdies

10 pars

13 bogeys

7 double bogeys

3 triple bogeys

1 quad bogey

This is the 4th Public Links I’ve played in and it wasn’t the best score or the worst. It was probably the hardest course I’ve played. The best I did was in 2019 when I shot +28 overall at Quail Valley. The best two-day event ever was 167 (+23) and the best 18 holes in the competition was 81 (+9) at Aspen Lakes in an OGA individual tournament — both in 2019. I will also mention the best 9-hole score in competition, in the Air Force squadron team I shot a -1 under 35 on Hill AFB golf course (the first nine I shot 50), which halved the match. 

Until my handicap is low enough to try and qualify for the Mid Am, Oregon Am, or the Stroke Play Ch., then the Public Links is the tournament for me to shine or not.

I stayed in a hotel around 20 miles away in Halsey, which cost too much and wasn’t very nice, yet it was nice to have the time to play the free practice round and relax more than usual. For the last three, I never played the practice round and showed up on Saturday to play, staying in a hotel for only one night.

I knew the course was going to be tough when it started off with a fairway beginning 220 yards across a water hazard. I hit the hazard two out of the three rounds, making it over but hitting it into the native on the right.

I played with great guys each day and enjoyed the competition. One of the golfers works as a greenskeeper at the resort I work at, so that was cool. It was a pleasant experience with all the playing partners I had each day, not to mention it was fun to watch them hit the ball so far (on the weekend).

The players I was paired with all hit the ball at least 30-50 yards ahead of me each time. They didn’t always stay out of trouble, yet unfortunately, neither did I. 

I hit my drives around 240y on average. I hit 20 out of 28 drives in play on the weekend, which means 8 holes had penalty strokes already, which is where most of the bigger scores came from. I didn’t drive the ball well enough to take advantage of my accuracy.

The backdrop story to this year’s tourney is a recent development with my swing, which is taking my ball striking to another level. I just found this breakthrough a couple of weeks before the tourney, so I hadn’t yet practiced enough with it to feel confident, although it did help me hit some great shots among the mediocre.

For instance, I wasn’t using the technique on my drives, just my irons, and even then I wasn’t fully committed to using it, which hurt the outcome at times.

Unfortunately, I will have to wait until next year to have that breakthrough at the Public Links; this year, I just hung in there enough to not have a disaster round and not come in last place with those who finished in the Championship division.

Just to clarify, the Championship division plays from longer tees than the Open division. When I say I came in T64 out of 79, that includes the Open division, even though they had a significant advantage playing from the shorter tees on such a tricky course.

There were a few holes where we had to tee off between two huge trees like a field goal. Thankfully, I never did clip one of them, although I came very close a few times.

The first round I played with a guy and his caddie who almost fell out on the last hole. He was losing balls and struggling, nearly falling out because the women golfers were right behind us and after them the rest of the field. Thankfully, I had a gas cart and let them use it to go back and hit another ball (two times). In the chaos, I was able to find his ball in the native and he was able to finish the hole. I played with him and his caddie the next day as well, we ended up tying for last in the Championship division — cool dudes for sure.

The OGA and Mallard Creek employees were all very nice and helpful. It was a pleasant experience all around. The sandwiches were priced too high and the fairways were soggy, otherwise, everything was great. Yeah, I got no roll on drives because of the soggy conditions, and there was no lift clean and place rule.

Since I’ve been back, I shot my best 9-hole round of the year at CV golf course, 39 (+3), so the new swing change is taking my game to another level, it just hasn’t been refined and practiced long enough. Hopefully, in the tourneys to come, I will be able to shoot in the 70s and really compete in these great events.

I did ride in a gas cart on the weekend after walking my practice round and being totally spent at the end. I decided to use a cart to ensure I didn’t fall out because of a lost ball and to help those in my group if needed.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and I played the best I could. I hit and putted many good shots, yet got into too much trouble to shoot in the 80s or 70s. Until next time, know that better golfing days are ahead, praise God. 


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