I have been scuffling a bit lately but after a range session last night, had a plan. Would play for bogey today. If I hit a spectacular shot I might get a par but should stay out of trouble. Went to the range Friday night and was feeling good about most of my game but…well, struggling with pitch shots. I might bump and run everything from 100 in!
First hole and I am feeling good about my driver. Tee markers are a bot further back than normal so my initial plan to bang a five iron out left of the trees went away. I pull the driver, choose an aggressive line, have a nice, smooth controlled backswing, a nice smooth downswing…and hit behind the ball, chunking it way left and short. Fortunately it was SO bad, I still had a path to par. Just put one down the middle to 150 or so, try and get a good pitch and 2 putt. Unfortunately I pulled my 4h left but on the bright side I pummeled it and was looking at 135. Nice smooth pitching wedge, still looking at par. Waited for the foursome on 4 to hit their shots as I was close to their green, they all laid up well short, went to hit my shot and noticed…one of them had moved to a second ball and was hitting again. Rushed my shot and a tree that is NEVER high enough to be in the way of my shot was and knocked my ball down. I then chunked a wedge into the creek, dropped, put it on and 2-putted for a disappointing triple bogey/snowman to start out.
Hole 2 I decided to lay up. Unfortunately, I then put it into the middle of the water/rockpile. Drop, pin high but left, get on and 1-putt for the double. Hey, heading the right direction!
I love #3, the 116 yard downhill par 3. I did not want to go long so played my ¾ swing 50 degree which is usually about a 95 yard swing. Now I am looking at a 12’ birdie putt which I duly miss but have about a 1’ par putt. Hey, now we are cooking.
Hole 4 I explain to my playing partner, “The left is wide open, you will just be in the second hole fairway, right is OB, no reason to play with the right side at all.” He duly puts two balls OB right, one of the pair we are matched up with does likewise. I then slice into the woods. Retee laying three, blast it 280 down the left side. My 4h needing 225 to the middle goes about 235 leaving me a super long par putt. I miss by about 3’ but tap in for the bogey. That was one costly miss off the tee…
This next one is about the hardest hole on the course for me. Again I tell him no need to play with the right, you can miss by an entire fairway left and still have shot but on right you are either in trees or have tree and sand issues. They all play driver, I play 5i and am longer than any of them and drift a hair right but no trouble. Not even really sand I have a clean shot between. Needing about 47 to the center I hit my 60’ little less than a half swing. It really carried and left me at the back of the green with about a 25’ downhill with a slight bend. I thought I had a pretty good read on it and made a nice smooth stroke…about the longest birdie I have ever made and one of the longer putts. Huzzah, a bird!
Next hole I need the same shot I had back on three. Nice smooth swing, I am liking it…what just happened? The creek is about 6’ wide and I landed dead center in it. No clue what happened, usually I am afraid of going long with that swing. Retee, lay it just short of the fringe, get to about 6’ and 3 putt for a quad bogey 7. Mentally crushing as I am coming off a birdie to a distance I like where I thought on my first swing I was going to be doing a happy dance.
The next hole is a short, 455 yard par 5 but the water from 250-290 out depending on where you land coupled with either OB or no shot all down the right side…no driver for me. I pull the 4h, aim down the center and just crush it but slight pull. End up unable to take a full swing so I punch out, end up being short, then have to ship on in 5 and 2 putt for a double 7. Grr.
Next one is the troubling uphill par three. I take plenty of club, hit my 8i on the uphill…but jerk it well left. Coming off the hill, I chip it short, then long, then on but not close and 2 putt for the triple 6. I am playing awful. On just 6 holes I am 15 over, and one under on the other 2 holes. That means I am either par or double bogey or worse. What is going on? All sorts of badness.
But hole 9..ah, a beautiful drive, I leave it about 30 yards below the green. Sand in the way, no big deal. I watch the Czech land a foot short of the green and roll 20 yards down the hill. Well, I have no plans to play with the sand so not an issue for me, I am going center/back of green. Or I can chunk it, hit within inches of where he did and roll right next to him. A 9i chip puts me on the back fringe but from there I roll in the 8’ downhill slider for a par and complete a miserable front in 50, a whopping 14 over, all of that on just 6 holes.
Well, the back is going to be better I hope. First hole, I thought about the 5i but if I hit it and pull it it brings the sand into play. Much shorter and I turn it into a three shot hole. Marginally longer and I need to fade it which I no longer can do on command. I elect to go driver and take an aggressive line. If I pull it it gives me a straight look to the shortsided green. If I go straight I could be on and if I fade it the hill should redirect it.
I crush the drive and honestly…downhill par 5 where I am cutting the corner…I think there is a chance I am past the green. Until we get there and I am center of the fairway 100 yards out. It had to have hit a tree I did not see and taken an interesting bounce. But I hit a nice wedge to the back of the green and 2-putted for the par.
I did wisely tee off with the 5i and put it about 4 yards left of the stake I was aiming at 200 yards out and uphill. Wedge to the back right of the green, just past the green. Got on but not close enough, 2-putt bogey.
The water beyond, the other guys are pulling 9i, 7i and 5i. I pull 50 degree and land about 20’ from the cup. I am starting to realize how skewed my perceptions are as I cannot imagine hitting a 7i on a downhill 160. I am so used to my distance advantage that except when people mention it I don’t think about it. Anyhow, I am about 2’ from the birdie and happily take my par.
Next hole I pummel the driver down the left center leaving myself 75 yards in. On fringe to left, putt to 4’, par. Hey, I like this game!
I usually leave the next one short, but this time a pitching wedge has me pin high on the left. I just miss the putt for birdie but another tap in par.
Now for the first of the back to back 5s. I absolutely crush my drive, it is a bit further left than I would prefer but the hill rolls it back to the center of the fairway. So now I have 160 uphill to be on in 2. I grab my 7i and promptly pull it hard left, it ricochets off a tree just past the green and I get a break as it bounces back to the front of the green and down the hill. I have a pedestrian pitch, miss the 12’ birdie putt but tap in for par. Feeling good.
The next five, I am trusting my driver and take a slightly more aggressive line than usual. Unfortunately, it is too aggressive and I am slowed by a tree. Still, I can reach the green with a well struck 4h. Or I can slightly pull it, clip a tree and now I am 150 out still after 2. Oh well. The back has been kind, I can take my lumps. I rip my 8i and am just past the green on the left. A nice chip leaves me a 6’ putt which I roll in to save my par. Huzzah!
This time I drift right a tiny bit with my driver on the 313 yard par 4 and another tree decides to leave me about 110 in. I hit my 50 degree ¾ swing about 15’ right of the cup. But when I roll it in I suddenly realize…I am even par for the back with 1 to go and, in fact, going back to 9, I have my first ever 9 consecutive holes at par. I am pretty excited.
I actually have my 5i in hand. I just want to bash it out there 200 and leave myself an 8 iron to the green and try to 2-putt. But I have faith in my driver at the moment (even though in retrospect I probably shouldn’t) so I blast it. 303 yards later I have 45 to the flag. I get a little loose with my chip and have 40’ to two-putt to save par. I make a gorgeous lag to about 2’, putt in and boom, 36 for the back, 86 for the round (cap adjusted 85). I am ecstatic and excited, this is my personal best for 9 and just 3 strokes off my best for 18.