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This way to the Cambridge Lakes Golf Course.

This way to the Cambridge Lakes Golf Course. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

This way to the Cambridge Lakes Golf Course.

This way to the Cambridge Lakes Golf Course. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

A golfer putts on the fifth hole of the Cambridge Lakes Golf Course.

A golfer putts on the fifth hole of the Cambridge Lakes Golf Course. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Water and sand hazards greet golfers teeing off from the sixth hole of the Cambridge Lakes Golf Course.

Water and sand hazards greet golfers teeing off from the sixth hole of the Cambridge Lakes Golf Course. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

UK weekly edition, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

CAMBRIDGE — Inspired by Tiger Woods and his remarkable play last month when he battled through a painful knee injury to win the U.S. Open, I decided to dust off my clubs and hit the greens.

Forget about competing with Woods, even if he’s awaiting surgery. I couldn’t land a spot on the Iraq golf tour, if there were one.

To sharpen my measly skills, I ventured to the nine-hole Cambridge Lakes Golf Course, where every hole is a par 3. It may not be the immaculate links used by professionals, but it’s a beginner’s paradise with the longest hole at only 142 yards.

Playing fees are also small at the course. One round of golf ranges from 5 to 7.50 pounds (about $10 to $15), with club rentals at 1 pound (about $2). At RAF Lakenheath, Breckland Pines Golf Course charges between $7.50 and $10 for nine holes of golf, and rental clubs are either free or $6, depending on your rank.

"It’s a picturesque golf course near the center of Cambridge," said Firas Wahida, a golf pro shop worker at Cambridge Lakes. "The quality of the greens are really high standard."

Wahida told me that the course veers away from a strict atmosphere with its hassle-free dress code and no membership fees. The ability of players can vary as well.

"It caters to all levels," he said. "We have absolute beginners who have never played before and we get advanced players who practice their short game."

Years have passed since I smacked that little white ball around. I got off to a good start on the first hole, a 94-yard straight shot. To my surprise, I actually made par. But my luck quickly wore off at the next hole (106 yards) and I scored a 6. That’s more like it, I thought.

The course is surrounded by heavy brush. Sand hazards also blot many of the holes, while a small creek presents another hazard as it slices through the course. And because of my slicing, I lost two balls to the murky water.

I didn’t feel so bad when I saw other novice players struggling, too. But when I sank a couple more 6s back-to-back, followed by an 8 on the fifth hole (126 yards), I started to make excuses.

Maybe I wasn’t acclimatized to the glaring sun since I was playing on a rare sunny English day. Or, maybe I’m thinking too much about each shot and should relax.

Before I teed off on the sixth hole (86 yards), I relaxed. And it worked. I was on the green in 2, and looking to make par.

I then choked on the next two putts. On the third putt, I slightly tapped the ball and it rolled perfectly on the trimmed grass until it struck the back of the hole and bounced out. I finished with another 6.

I redeemed myself on the seventh hole (117 yards) adjacent to one of the course’s three ponds. After slicing the ball to the right near the pond, I drove it to the green on the next shot and nailed a 17-foot putt for par.

I proudly jotted the number 3 on my scorecard but the damage was already done. Scoring the last two holes with 5 strokes each, I ended with a score of 48 — a shocking 21 shots over par.

It must have been the course’s worst score, I told myself, as I dragged myself back to the clubhouse. Good thing this place has golf lessons.

Getting thereLocation: Trumpington Road, Cambridge CB2 2AJ. The nine-hole, par-3 golf course is off of Trumpington Road, about a mile south of the city center and two miles from junction 11 of the M11 motorway. Coming from the M11, signs for the course can be seen on the left.

Prices: 6.50 pounds for adults and 5 pounds for children younger than 18 for weekdays. Add 1 pound for weekend dates. Club rental is one pound. Balls are free, and there are rubber tees at each hole. Golf lessons cost 100 pounds for adults and 80 pounds for children younger than 18 for a six-session program at 30 minutes each. Six sessions at 60 minutes each cost 125 pounds for children and 150 pounds for adults.

Hours: 9 a.m. to dusk Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to dusk Saturday and Sunday.

Web site:www.cambridgelakes.co.uk

Getting there

Location: Trumpington Road, Cambridge CB2 2AJ. The nine-hole, par-3 golf course is off of Trumpington Road, about a mile south of the city center and two miles from junction 11 of the M11 motorway. Coming from the M11, signs for the course can be seen on the left.

Prices: 6.50 pounds for adults and 5 pounds for children younger than 18 for weekdays. Add 1 pound for weekend dates. Club rental is one pound. Balls are free, and there are rubber tees at each hole. Golf lessons cost 100 pounds for adults and 80 pounds for children younger than 18 for a six-session program at 30 minutes each. Six sessions at 60 minutes each cost 125 pounds for children and 150 pounds for adults.

Hours: 9 a.m. to dusk Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to dusk Saturday and Sunday.

Web site:www.cambridgelakes.co.uk


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