Entries Tagged as 'Driving accuracy'

Eighteen holes is TWO nines!

Weather: mild and slightly overcast, with a gentle but cool breeze.  Course condition: good, with greens a little slower than usual but no frost. Company: three good golfers that I had played with previously.  All set for a good round of golf!

Forty minutes on the practice fairway the previous night allowed me to experiment with a slight adjustment to my swing. The new swing thought brought a little more consistency to my ball striking, and a better swing path. Twenty minutes warming up on the practice range confirmed the change and confidence was high as tee time approached.

Nine holes later, 5 of seven fairways had been nailed. Two poor tee shots caused some difficulty but six of nine greens were reached in regulation, and one birdie had resulted. At one over the card things were going well.

Just why the wheels fell off I am not sure, but 21 points on the front doesn’t compensate for a struggling 11 points on the back.  Zero of seven fairways hit, six bunkers explored, and seventeen putts contributed to ten dropped shots in nine holes.   My concentration was thrown over a minor issue, a few shots were poorly executed, and my thinking was poor on a number of occasions. It added up to a poor nine.

Even so, one over on the front nine reminds me that my present handicap is a temporary aberration, and things are soon to turn around.

Shots to remember:

  • Three wood off the tee at 14.  The hardest hole on the course requires a good straight drive. With a poor history off the tee on this particular hole only one image was entertained – a good swing and the ball flying towards my chosen target. A good strike resulted in the ball finishing in the middle of the fairway two hundred and thirty metres from the tee and leaving a comfortable six iron to the green.
  • Gap wedge from 75 metres on 17. After splitting the fairway off the tee a good shot was required to the pin in the back third of the green. Rhythm was good as I concentrated on my two key swing thoughts. The ball started on my aiming line just left of the pin and finished two metres beyond the pin to set up a birdie opportunity.
  • Four iron on eight. At 175 metres into a gentle breeze it was at the  limit of the iron. Good rhythm, the left foot planted and the right arm coming through on the inside and the ball flew straight at the pin, finishing on line about 7 metres short of the hole.

Statistics:

FIR: 5 of 14    GIR: 8 of 18    Putts: 33   Points: 32

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So near and yet…

A little extra bit of work and a serious start to lifting my mental game were part of this week’s preparation. Did it pay off?  Yes…and NO.

Generally my driving was better.  50% of fairways hit doesn’t sound like a great deal of improvement, but only one of those five required a creative recovery. Even then it was only about five metres from the cut surface.

My bunker play was good – with two sand saves, and one GIR from a  fairway bunker.

For over two thirds of the round my thinking and approach was good – and my ‘course plan’ was sound.  At times I was let down by execution that was not quite right.

So how did I go with this strategy? Answer: after the 15th I was on track to play to my handicap, despite missing a 2 foot par putt on 13. Three holes later another point had been added to my stableford score and five more shots had been taken than my handicap allowed.

The statistics:

FIR: 50%  GIR: 50% PPG in Reg: 2.22 Score: 31 points. Handicap: 4.9 for another week.

Kew Golf Club

A drizzly Melbourne day, greens recently renovated, and I chose to play at Kew Golf Course.  It was just a week since the renovation, and the greens were slow, with a little bit of sand evident on most green. Despite this they putted truly. All the fairways were well grassed and the bunkers were all well maintained. On a fine day it would be a great place to play golf. In the conditions on the day it was still a good place to play golf.

One view of the approach to the 15th green

An easy par 5 if you don't go for the green with your second.

The view from the elevated club house reveals a little bit of water, but most of it does not come into play for well it shots.  Tree lined fairways, well placed bunkers, and well shaped par 4’s and 5’s place a premium on the tee shot.  A trio of interesting holes complete this course – a reachable par 5, the longest par 4, and then a 165 metre par three up the hill towards the club house.

 Without the usual warm up, and using borrowed clubs again, the start was positive – my 3 wood of the tee split the fairway and set up my approach.  An overshot approach, a short chip and missed putt set the tone for the next few holes!  When the driving went off I started to hit the greens. Twelve stableford points for the front nine was not encouraging. With 20 putts, three missed fairways, and only 3 greens in regulation a good score was out of the question.  It looked like this round was not going to be counted for my handicap as I was 8 over at the turn.

A delightful finishing hole.

18th green and clubhouse at Kew

A regulation par on 10 was followed by a shocking tee shot on 11. It was not looking good.  Seven holes later I finished the back nine with 22 points – one under the card – after missing a 1.5 metre birdie putt on 18. What changed?  Just my swing thought – and the result was all six fairways hit and eight greens in regulation. Two one putt greens completed the story.  I signed for 34 points – and was happy to do so.

I look forward to playing Kew when their greens are running at their normal speed.

Statistics:

FIR: 78%  GIR: 61%  Putts: 36  PPGinReg: 1.9

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Progress toward the goal

A social round at a new course with borrowed clubs was an opportunity to test out my game – technically and strategically.  For most of the day things worked well, but some poor course management and a couple of slight lapses my thinking and concentration hurt on the score card.

My stats:

FIR  38%   GIR 41%  PPG  1.61 (29 Putts) Score 79  (8 over)

A well trapped green.

The par 5 8th is reachable in two - if you can hold a three iron on a well trapped green!

The driving stats don’t look good, but most of my drives were close to the fairway when they missed. Only one drive left me with chip out, and that was caused by lack of course knowledge.  GIR isn’t great either. From good fairway position approaches often came up short – and that might be attributed to failing to adjust to the strange clubs.

Three holes cost badly. Three putts on two of the par 5’s were  major blemishes, and a double bogey on 6 hurt on the scorecard. The double bogey came after missing the green from 70 meters. Without a lob wedge the recovery shot was almost impossible, so I took the soft option and accepted the double.

My other learning experience for the day came in the sand.  A wide sole on the club is not helpful when there is little depth to the sand. All three bunker shots were long by at least 1o metres! Not good when the pin is six metres from another bunker.

Overall I was happy with my ball striking and course management  despite it being my first outing on the course and my first use of this particular set of clubs.

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Close … but not there yet

A magnificent day in Hobart, no breeze and a little dew adding a layer of moisture for the first five or six holes. Perfect for golf.

After the normal warm up the game got under way.  On the practice fairway things were good, and the first drive split the middle of the fairway. Five shots later my first double bogey was on the card – not a good start in a stroke round. 40% of my handicap gone with 17 holes to play. 

A birdie putt on 11 (my second hole) was on line but just short.  Blast!  Then followed a birdie, only to give the shot straight back with a three putt bogey. Four pars followed before bunker hopping to a bogey on 18. Three over at the turn was OK.

Splitting the fairway on one was followed by a slightly mishit 3 iron, and a one meter putt for a birdie.  From two metres my birdie putt didn’t even graze the hole on  4, and the next two holes yielded two double bogeys.  A shocking drive precipitated the first double, and the next was poor course management par excellence.  Five shots were given away in just three holes. A fortunate bounce off a tree left my ball on the fairway at 7, and after a good aproach the putt dropped for a birdie.  That shot was  given back on the next hole after my chip landed on the putting surface instead of  the fringe and my four metre putt lipped the hole.  Six over with one hole to play. On the 9th (my last hole) one centimetre was all that stood between playing to my handicap or not. Right on line is no good if the putt stops short of the  lip! 

The result was a 78, nett 73 – and my handicap went down 0.1 as  this round replaced a 7 over round in my top ten.

Statistically:

FIR: 57%  Driving distance 237 metres*

GIR 72%  PPG 1.833 (32 putts) Average first putt distance 22.39 feet.

 * Driving distance is based on two holes going in opposite directions as per PGA tour stats. Average drive distance for all open driving holes was 223 metres. Monthly medals are played off the back tees, and distances to the green are marked on sprinkler heads.

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Signs of hope

It worked on the golf course, but not on the scoreboard!

Extra efforts over recent months to raise my game to the next level are bearing fruit.  A slight correction yesterday (shortening my backswing) made a huge difference on the course. It certainly did improve my score.

Statistically: FIR  64%  GIR 50%  Putting 1.67 = 30 putts.  Score = 75  (3 over)

This is my best round on this course by three shots. As always, it could have been much better. Three shots were dropped in the last three holes. A 115 downwind approach was pushed right at 16, and compounded by an overhit bunker shot, an ordinary chip and a missed 5 footer meant a double bogey, and a short chip on 18 added to my pain.

Highlights: Four birdies (including three of the four par 5’s).  Most satisfying was the driving, with only two holes where I needed to shape my second shot to get to the green. Both of those however resulted in bogeys.

Lowlights: Three putts on the par 3 4th, and a bogey on the short 5th put a halt on a promising start.

Summary: I am on my way to better golf and a lower handicap is just around the corner.

Work areas this week: Bunker play – 3 greenside bunkers but no up and downs

BTW: 38 points on my card did not translate to 38 points in Golflink, but that story is for another day!

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Five iron and putter

After consecutive three putts from under five feet left its mark on my psyche. Errant drives with at least five “chip-outs” was actually more costly.  With these two things in mind two clubs were taken to the course – a five iron and putter.

A hundred balls on the practice fairway with the five iron was a step towards embedding my swing changes.  Playing four or five holes (including the tragic 7th) was a way of dealing with the putting demons.

On the practice fairway the use of my right hand began to sink in. For years the left side has been dominant. Hitting twenty shots in a row along my aim line suggests that the changes are settling in. This consistency is something that has not been part of my previous experience.

On the course the tragic 7th was revisited. Saturday this 339 metre par 4 included a hooked drive, a pitch for position, a 70 meter pitch to within 1.5 meters and 3 putts. Monday night a five iron of the tee, a five iron to the green, and then out came the putter. Two balls were on in regulation – followed by a 3 putt bogey from 18 metres and a birdie from 2 metres.

The lesson: Keeping the ball in play (on or close to the fairway) is more important than distance.

The challenge: Leave the driver in the bag on this short dogleg.

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Three by three, and another 0.1

Back at Royal Hobart for the Monthly medal this weekend. Conditions were cool and the sky was overcast. There was little breeze. In other words, it was a perfect day for golf.

In preparation I was at the course at least 30 minutes before tee off.  About 30 shots on the practice fairway, a few chips and a few putts and I was ready to go.  During the week I had managed to get out on the course once, and spent time most days indoors on putting and chipping technique.

At the end of the day I signed for a 78, net 73. CCR  was 71 (Par 72), and the handicap went out to and exact 5.0.

Statistically:  FIR  64%   GIR 50% Putts 32 = PPH 1.77

Practically 4 errant drives meant playing for position rather than going for the green, and three three-putt greens were costly. Of five realistic birdie attempts (putts of 3 metres or less) on one was converted. A little improvement in any of these areas and lower scores should result.

The plan this week:  practice twice working to embed changes to my set up and swing. More time needs to be spent on the driver, and on the putting green.

One step forward?

A visit to a different course was not a good thing for my handicap, but was a good way to spend the morning.  “Woodrising” a.k.a. Devonport Golf Club was my home course over 20 years ago, and it was good to return to the course on the weekend. While the course has not changed a great deal I was impressed with the quality of the greens. Fast and true,  they were well prepared for my visit and a delight to play on. The visitors from clubs around Tassie who were visiting for the Clarment Shield were fortunate that their competition coincided with my visit!

So how was the round?   12 over the card doesn’t sound too great, especially when it is seven over the handicap you are on and 10 over the one you are working for, and adds .1 to the actual handicap.

FIR: 14%         GIR: 39%       Putts:35 or 1.944 per green

These are not impressive, and if we add in some poor chips and bad bunker play the overall result was bad news.

Yet I came away happy that progress is being made. Only three drives were in difficult positions, the rest were within a few metres of the fairway. Most were straight and close to the linbe I chose.  My game fell away at the next hurdle, approaches to the green.

On reflection I concentrated hard on my set up and swing off the tee, but had been hitting my iron so straight and well that there was little thought about swing and more about result. On most holes I was within range of the green with my second shot, yet only hit 39% of the greens. 7 of my 18 shots to the green went right.  There is one area to work on. Around the greens is another. Perhaps it was the pace of the greens after two weeks on recently scarified putting surfaces but on Saturday my short game was not up top the mark.

Hope remains. The driving has shown great steps forward, the next step is to get the rest of the game up to the mark.

Practice makes perfect?

The old adage is not quite correct. It should read “Perfect practice makes perfect”.

Swing changes don’t get established in one day, it takes much more than that.  Perfect practice is needed. Just two days (= two practice sessions) after the lesson I played a competitive round of golf.

Result: 30 stableford points. Verdict: satisfied.

Despite being six shots over my handicap, golf on Saturday was OK.

The negatives:

  • One three putt – forgot about the downhill slope
  • Two  wipe-outs – one drive pulled way left followed by a thoughtless provisional, the other a ball (slight fade) we lost sight of in the air and could not find in the rough
  • Two approaches went long. Each shot travelled at least  ten metres further than anticipated. Is that just better ball striking or is it bad judgment?

The positives:

  • 64% driving accurracy including 5 of the last 6 driving holes
  • Approaches between 50 and 100 metres (six shots) were all on line and covered the pin – just got to work on distance
  • Pin high for 2 on the reachable par 5’s
  • Shot shape good. The slight sliding fade that had developed was not in evidence.

All in all a satisfactory golfing day, if not a good scoring day.

What next?  Practice fairway twice this week, and nine holes Friday night.  No golf for me Saturday so the real test will have to wait for a fortnight.

A place for the bunker rake

The rake goes here.