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Still going the wrong way…

For the first time in weeks my Fairways in  Regulation hit 50%.  Unfortunately the statistic that didn’t move forward was Greens in Regulation, a mere 30%.  Alongside these numbers were 29 putts, an overall result that was passable but included two three-putts on my back nine.

The bald statistics only tell part of the story, and three holes blew my stroke score out of the water.  I did not think that the cold I was struggling with was a factor, especially after being only 4 over at the turn. Two double bogeys, two three putts, and a shanked chip conributed to bogey golf over the last nine holes, and a final score of 85.  It is not a score that satsifies, and the impact on my handicap was severe. Another 0.6 was added and at 6.8 the handicap is as high as it has been for over 7 years.  A combination of new handicapping system and a new (and tougher) course has all contributed to this dose of reality.

At the turn  things were was positive. A front nine of 4 over (including two penalties) was not disastrous, and I had been playing fairly consistently.  What followed was a litany of bad luck and poor golf that did not reflect the first nine holes, nor my ball striking.  As always, it’s not how – it’s how many.  How many? Too many!

Memorable moments:

On the par 3 15th a pushed tee shot ended in the tea tree. With an unplayable lie I oicked the ball up and retreated about 30 metres – there were no alternatives as the ball was deep in the  scrub. Faced with a 50 metre pitch my aim was to get the ball on the green.  Unfortunately I came off the shot a touch, and hit it low and straight into the tea tree again. I found it 10 centimetres from where I had picked it up just moments before.  Another drop, a pitch and a 10 metre putt had me marking a 6 on the card. It was a good six!

Shots to remember:

  • A pure 8 iron on 4 that covered the pin, and settled 8 metres past the hole and directly on line.
  • A chip from the rough on 18. In the rough and fifteen metres from the hole the chip landed neatly over ridge and stopped just over one metre below the hole.
  • My focus on the 6th tee was good. I selected my line, established my key swing thoughts and swung through the ball. despite hitting into a slight headwind from the back tee the ball started just right of centre and drew slightly into the left half of the fairway. With just over 200 metres left to the green the 230 metre drive was one of my best for the day.

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Last Saturday…

After a few weeks of improved golf my last round was approached positively.

My previous round (35 points, 20 of them on the back nine) was the best I had played for over a month. Statistically I hit 5 of 7 fairways on the back. Hitting fairways set up a sequence of 8  4’s that ended with a  missed birdie putt on the last.   After that sort of form I was looking forward to getting on the course again.

After 18 holes I signed for 30 points, and needed a birdie on the last to get that many.

What went wrong?  On six holes I was in excellent position for my approach to the green only to leave the ball in a greenside bunker, or even wide of a bunker. There goes 6 points.  There were other errors, but my approaches to the green  (usually sound) were just a bit off, and it turned out to be costly.

What do I want to remember?

  • My drive on 9.  With a little left to right breeze I planted my left foot to start the downswing and let rip through the ball.  A 250 metre drive left me with a chance at birdie on the 491 par 5.
  • Fairway bunker on 2. Ninety metres from the green with another yawning bunker a couple of meters short of the green. A crisp nine iron picked the ball off the sand but went a little longer than expected. It was on the green, even if I was left with a 20 metre downhill putt for birdie.
  • Greenside bunker on 17.  After three poor shots the 60 degree wedge came into play with a long bunker shot. I attacked it hard and was surprised when the ball landed pin high left of the flag, took a bounce forward and then spun back right of the pin to finish about a metre from the hole.

It was a good days golf. I struck the ball well off the tee (mostly), and my touch around the greens was very good.   The positive signs keep coming and a handicap reducing round is on the horizon.

Statistics:

FIR 47%  GIR 27% Putts 26

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Revising Goals…

Six months after declaring a goal it is time to revisit.

At the start of the exercise my handicap was 4.9, it is now 5.5.

At the start of the exercise I was without a golf club, I now play at one of the top 100 courses in the country.

Before this year I had two lessons in 6 years, I have now had two in 6 months.

So where is my golf heading?

The statistics tell me my handicap could soon be closer to 7 than 5. In the next few weeks two of my best rounds will drop of my ‘last 20’. My last five rounds have not been in my best ten!

Familiarity with the course has made me more aware of the hazards, more confident in my putting, and more strategic in my approach to each hole.

Early season swing changes have settled in, and my ball striking is more consistent.

What is missing are low scores.

Where to now?

210 metres to the bunker...I made it easily!

My handicap goals have not changed, but getting there is tougher.

Continuing to work on aspects of my game that are off the mark – driving accuracy (<50%) and greens in regulation (<50%) – will eventually bring results.  Attention to ‘the mental game’ has already increased my enjoyment and reduced my stress, but is yet to end in lower scores.

My current emphasis?

Timothy Gallwey identifies the Performance, Enjoyment, Learning triangle.  No matter how I perform enjoyment remains, and learning can take place.

Golf is a great game.  There are no excuses, no-one to blame if things go wrong. I will continue to enjoy the challenge and strive to achieve my goals.

The Greatest Game Ever Played

Harry Vardon was one of the greats of the game.  Most players today use the Vardon grip (also known as the overlapping grip). We know something of his exploits, but most know little of his past.  Vardon was one of the characters who helped populatise the game of golf.

The name Frances Ouimet is pretty much unknown today, apart from golf afficiionados. Frances never turned pro, but was a remarkable amateur golfer who won the US Open, and the US Amateur in 1914 and 1931.  Frances was the first American elected as captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

In 1913 Harry Vardon and Ted Ray (both British professionals) toured the US. Vardon was the preeminent golfer of the time, and Ray was not far behind.  These three contested the US Open.

Mark Frost’s book “The Greatest Game ever Played” chronicles the contest, providing fasinating background that sets the scene, and fills us in on the aftermath.  Its history but a very readable and enjoyable novel that any golfer would enjoy. If you haven’t read it, chase it down!

Barnbougle Dunes

It was on my list. All that was needed was the opportunity. On the long weekend in July I grabbed my chance. Now I need to find another opportunity. Barnbougle Dunes demands another look.

Stand on the lookout adjacent the club house and the complusion to play is hard to avoid.

Stand on any of the tees and the fairway invites your presence.

Make sure you play down the fairway....

Stand on the fairway and the swales challenge your skills.

112 metres - miss and you lose!

Don't miss this green!

Stand over the putt and technique and confidence are tested.

There are no easy putts

A spectacular course that demands great golf to score well. One visit is not enough – and a second course opens in a few months.

A view at the new course - opening late 2010

The next challenge - coming soon!

In the words of Arnie Schwarzenegger “I’ll be back”.