This year in golf (so far)2015 as of 9/22/15

Until this year I have never played much golf. 4, 5 rounds a year, sometimes less, rarely ever as many as 10 and even then only 1 or 2 would be for 18.
This year the wife and I talked about it, I wanted to get "not horribly bad, maybe respectable" at golf. She okayed me getting fitted for clubs, lessons, and getting March through October unlimited golf at a local retirement community track.  it is short, par 34 (should be 33 or 32, really). The challenge comes from if you miss a fairway you probably hit a house and/or are ob but for a hackmaster like myself...fine course.

My goal for the year was pretty modest. A round under 40 for 9. I generally shot in the mid-40s both there and at "real" golf courses. Some forays into the mid-50s and occasionally when everything was working right maybe a 42 or 43. 1 41. 

Early in the year, before the club fitting, I had a so-so round going...until I finished birdie-eagle when i chipped in on 9 for a 2. Later in the year I would get a second eage, so that was exciting.

As the lessons started to take hold I was struggling. It was a complete swing change from outside in, playing for a slice, to trying to hit it straight and attempting a draw. I would have a couple low 40s. I would have a 55. My scores were similar...but the WAY I was getting them was different. Now it often was a couple duffed chips around the green after getting close in 2. I could see the improvement even if the scores did not show it.

Then the magical day came where it all came together, I had a 35 going into 9. Drive down the middle. Wedge to the green. lag putt close. I was standing over a 4' par putt for a 39...of course I finished with a 41, could that part of the story end any different? But I was encouraged. I had a legit shot at it. Visible improvement.

I went to my favorite course, Wildwood, played 18 and shot a legit 84. I had never done better than an 89 on ANY course before. That was exciting. My driver was 33 yards longer than my average at the time. 

Came back to King City. I was working hard, practicing my chipping and putting at Red tail, hitting the driving range between lessons...I changed my chipping grip, my chipping approach, my pitching approach. I read Dave Pelz short-game Bible borrowed from the library. I went out and bought it, developed the 1/4, 1/2, 2/3 swings. i bought a 60 degree wedge to add to my PW, SW and AW. My short game got better.

Played some "real courses" 2-man best ball with my friend John against Dave and Jim.

Broke 40 with a 38. And again with a 39. Later I shot a 44/36 on the King City. Then I melted down. For a month.

My driver went wild. My 4h went wilder. My 3w was unhittable. I took to teeing off with a 6 iron, sometimes a 7 iron just to keep the ball in play. I met Tequila4Kapp and YetiLooper and came to enjoy the THP style round. 

Then the game started to come back. I broke 40 a couple more times. And then came perhaps my favorite round ever. On the front nine I hit 7 greens in regulation. I made one birdie putt. I shot a 40 that was my fault for melting down on 9 and pulling a double bogey. On the back after 4 holes I had hit zero GIR but 4 1-putts had me at par. I texted a brag about that bizarre stat to Tequila and Yeti, promptly took a double. BUT...

IMy mental game is stronger. I 1-put par on 6. I 1-put birdie on 7. 3-putt double on 8. 2-putt par on 9. I shot a 36. 

So for the front I was playing really well as hitting the green but not close enough to birdie. On the back I was missing the green but chipping close.

Actual, real, live example of the improvement in my game year over year.

And this time instead of reverting to my bad ways as I did last time I had some success, this time I shot a 42 for 9, then tonight a 42-38. I am experiencing sustained success.

Oh, I know the bad swings will come. I sliced a 6 iron on 5 tonight that had me "fore-tee box" screaming. I yanked a drive left that only stayed in bounds when it bounced off not one but 2 houses and found its way to the rough from which a 7-iron found the sand which I barely got out of. I am not a "good" golfer and neither I nor my trending handicap claim that I am.

but I can visibly see the improvement. At this end of the year if I land next to sand or water it does not bother me because i have the capability to avoid the trouble most of the time and, should I hit the sand, I get out more often than not in decent shape to save bogey instead of launching it 100 yards past the green and looking at snowman or worse.

I credit many things. The fitted clubs have been a wonder to behold. My ball flight is much better. For the first time in my life I am getting a really high ball flight that stops the ball on the green more and more frequently. I hit straighter more often and longer. I have a wider array of shots to select from and am gaining confidence in them all.

I credit Matt, my instructor, for much of the improvement in my short game and Pelz' principles for more, and honestly...I have worked hard at practicing what Matt has taught, spending hours hitting thousands of shots on the practice range. 

Coming down to the end of the paying season, golf is a much different game for me than it was at the beginning of the year. My skills are better and, while I will never be a scratch golfer, and probably not a mid-teen much less scratch handicapper (per the Grint I have gone from I think 32 or so at beginning of the year to 23.5 per most recent update), I don't feel like I want to run hide at corporate outings or anything like that. I have met some really cool people, had a ton of fun and even grown to the place where I can still tell you I have had precisely 3 eagles in my life (2 this year), I have had enough birdies they stop being a life-changing event...

Tomorrow I hop on a plane for Flagstaff and am taking my clubs, something i never would have done before because I would have wanted to hide my lack of skill from random strangers and would not enjoy rounds. Instead, so far this year I have played in Washington, Oregon, and California and have plans to play in Arizona. That alone is a sea change.

I think it has been a successful year. I know this is of little interest to most people but I just wanted to remember it and this little post might help with that. thanks for listening and hey..lets play 18


Rounds 36,37

Fresh off my near miss, I went a few days between chances to play. I had a double lesson, spent some time working on chipping.

Mostly I was working on air time v roll time, I carefully paced it off, marked down in my book how every club from 6 iron through 55 degree went...then left the book by the green I was practicing at. Oops.

So nearly a week after my good play and just a day after my racquetballing, I headed out. Fir-Gir-par. Should have had the birdie, missed about a 5'er that just lipped out.  Then I shanked right behind trees, no view of the green, somehow managed to roll around an elecrical box and get just onto the green, a 2-putt bogey. I feel like I am playing well.

I feel wrong as I promptly hook the 4h left over the houses, then hit a nice drive to 40' from the green. Then I chip twice to 5 yards from the green...and chip that in. Hmm. a zero putt 6...

then my 7 wood gets loose. I think the first may be gone, hit a provisional...left over houses. If you have seen that hole you know how bad that is. Then right over the clubhouse again. I give up, walk up...and find my first one behind and under a tree. I manufacture a shot to fairway center, get on in 3, in in 6. 2 lost balls that did not matter...a big score that did.

And so forth until I par 7 and 8, then get all sorts of loose on 9. A 46 going out. Not good.

I then go way right with the 4H. I am struggling with it today. I beautiful 7 iron gives me a chance at a scramble, but a poor chip and missed putt lead to a bogey. Then I bogey 11. And 12 (Fir-Gir Bogey :-( ), and 13.

The 167 yard, tree lined par 3 I decide to play my 7 iron. If I had gotten any roll I might have made an ace because I stuck it 3' short dead on line for the pin, it bounced about 2" according to the ballmark. birdie. Nice!

Bit of a wait, got joined by Jennifer, very nice lady who was struggling a bit.

I hit a fantastic drive but had tree issues. Tried draw around it but hit it straight, clipped a limb. Shorted 2 chips, then went long...a 7. ouch.

Then went way right with the 4H, landing 150 from green well right, just inbounds. Stuck the 8 iron just beyond the cup and got a birdie. 2 birdies in one is now a good round.
Good thing I decided that because I backed it up with sticking 2 4 H ob, switching to my driver, going 240 down left side, taking a 9.

And then driver ob right, long right but right of 1, bad chips, another 9 for a 49.

95 for the day but I don't care...two birdies.


Round 35: Made IT! except, not really...

I started off killing it. Hole 1 was a Fir-Gir-Par. Textbook with my 4 Hybrid being a solid 260ish yards, my 10ish yard chip leaving me a long makeable putt I did not feel bad about missing, and the decent leave letting me par it.

On 2 I was a bit right and went beyond the far side with my mis-chip. But then a nice lag from the fringe lipped out and I tapped in for bogey from less than a foot.

On 3 I put the ball just off the left fringe with the drive. A poor chip left lots of work and the frist putt was well short but I rolled in the longish second for a par. A second Fir-Gir-Par.

Next on the 196 yard par 3 I had to wait for a father-daughter group. She was maybe 5 or 6 and they were playing SUPER slow. Anyway I was pin high about 10 yards right of the green. Of course I could not stick the chip. I still should have made the putt but lipped it out. Still a bogey.

Then the famous 167 yard par 3. I actually mishit the tee shot, taking ground prior to the tee. perhaps for the best as I was pin high left of the green maybe 19 yards. I then chipped really well for a change, reading the green well and leaving a very makeable putt which I then made for par.

So I started this round par-bogey-par-bogey-par. And for those paying attention, I finished the last 4 holes of my last round par-birdie-par-bogey. So over the last 9 holes I have shot a 2-over 36 which is pretty spectacular for me. Now I just need to finish strong.

I then top my drive 5 yards past the red tees. I follow up by topping my 7 wood, hitting the tree in center of the fairway and getting a break that ricochets it into the center of the fairway 56 yards from the green. Nothing i cannot make worse by picking my 55 degree clean, ball flies OB. Drop for 5, this one lands front fringe. On in 6. Leave the first putt 6' short but hit that. Yay, one decent shot on the hole for a snowman. I just scored as many as any two prior holes...

Then the tee shot is topped again, barely scuttling past the red tees. Then I launch it ob, drop, etc...lets skip to the end. After that great start I finish 8-8-5-7. 28 and 19 is a 47..."only" 6 shots worse. But they were a painful 6...


Round 34: So close!

My goal is to break 40. I did it once many years ago at Gearhart. With a 29. There is some question in my mind if I really did it. Naturally I would rather do it on a par 36, but I will take what i can get.

Today went out, nobody ahead of me, took 2 practice hits with 8 iron and stepped up to the whites at King City. My 4 Hybrid was pure, with that right to left ball movement leaving me about 45 yards from the green. A nice soft 55 degree to about 8 foot, a 2-putt. Starting with a par is always nice. A Fir-Gir-Par is nice too.

The 178 yard par 3 I am generally right. My 7 wood was pin high just off the green about 5 yards right. I tried the wrist hinge but much too much force, went off green on far side...when pin was right next to where I went wide right. This time I put it about 4' away and 1-putted for bogey. Would have preferred the par I should have scored...but that is a shot I struggle with.

Despite there having been nobody ahead of me when I first arrived...changed clothes...took a couple practice swings...played two holes...I was now waiting on people. Uh oh.

On to the 249 par 4. My drive was about 200 yards, slightly left edge of fairway. I went back to the 55 degree but picked it clean. It ended up in the 4th hole tee box across the street I later discovered. Drop, put it on front edge of green, 2-putt for a 6. Oops. One swing cost 2 strokes. is the encouraging part. I have that 45 yard shot in my bag. It is reasonable to think I can and should routinely par or even birdie this hole.

Now for the par 3 178 yarder. My 7 wood came out again and was slightly right and short. I then overhit the green, my chip back left me a 4ish footer which I hit for the bogey. Again...poor close-in work meant what should have been a scramble par was a bogey. But it is CLOSE.

Now the 167 yard par 3 with trees steady right and interspersed left. I took my 6 iron....and would have hit the houses behind the green because I CRUSHED it. Now I had to come 20 yards back to the green under a limb. I left it short, then was too far from the pin from just off the fringe. A 2-putt and my 2nd double of the day. I did not feel like I was playing awful...but I was not playing well, either. On my way to a forgettable round.

My troubling 277 yard par 4. I have played it much better with the draw. I hammered the drive, but clipped the last tree branch, losing probably 10-15 yards. Still, I was 75 yards from the green, left side of fairway and clear shot at it. A nice smooth 50 degree put me pin high on right-center of green. I left the first putt 5' short but rolled the second in for a par.; Hey, a second FIR-GIR-Par. Nice!

Now the par 4 that masquerades as a 5. My drive I was all tense on the swing and was short and left. I was maybe 165 from the green, left of fairway, tree issue. Worse, the 2 guys in front of me spent several minutes practicing chips from just off the green while I stewed over my shot. I was ready to hit into them when they finally moved on. I pulled the 7 iron and tried a deliberate draw. It worked, sort of...I was beyond the green 5 or 10 yards after hitting the back edge with a beautiful draw. this time I left the chip about 4' from the cup and 1-putted for the birdie*. yeah, it is a par on most courses...I will count it as a birdie. And on this course, that is a second consecutive FIR-GIR, topped by a BIR.

On the 284 yard 8 I hit a nice draw that left me about 75 yards off the green. My 50 degree put me pin high right side of the green. Another putt left short4ish feet but I made that for a third consecutive FIR-GIR-Par or better. Wow!

On the 292 yard par 4 I got under it a little bit but still put it dead center fairway with the  4 hybrid. This time the 50 degree was about 4 yards short. But a nice chip left me a very makeable 3' putt to A) deliver a 4th consecutive FIR-GIR-Par+ and B) break 40.

naturally I got in my own head, missed it, frustrated missed the next shot and 3-putted to end with a 41.

Still the best front I have had and I now know I am capable of doing it. I was almost there.

Then I rushed my drive and pushed it way right...right of the 1st fairway, in fact. A 7-iron landed right of the green but pin high. Unfortunately a poor chip was followed by a 3-putt. The sadness of the missed 41 actually helped me start a meltdown.

The 178 yard par 3 saw my 7 wood go high, straight...and long. Again a low limb meant 6 iron chip, but short, 3 to get on, 1 to get in. Bogey, not horrible. Now waiting on a twosome.

I outdid the first time I played the 249 hole, landing about 35 yards from the green. Confident, I took the 55 degree, stepped up...and totally chunked it about 10 yards. I started thinking about going to the Avengers II< Age of Ultron. I got barely on the front frnge with the next chip and 2-putted for a bogey. Not horrible...but could have been so much better!

It started sprinkling on me about this time.

The 196 yard par 3 saw my 7 wood land short this time, though not horribly so. I hit a nice chip and was a couple feet from the putt. I rushed it a bit to get out of rain and...missed the gimme. Another putt but what should have been a par was a bogey.

It continued to rain, I was waiting on the other guys...I waled off and went to the Avengers.

So close to breaking 40. I can do it this year!

Rounds 30-33

Played 18, shot a 97. Not good but birdied the last, had 3 pars and a birdie on 9. Drive was mid-length and left. With ball below my feet and tree sort of in way, took it from 75 yards to 4 feet and made the birdie putt to end the round.
Shot a 42, had a birdie on hole 3, par on 5 and 9. that was back to back rounds with a birdie.
Shot a 49 with pars on 3 and 8.


Rounds 26, 27, 28 and 29

Sis was in town so no r-ball Sunday. Monday went out and played. Nobody in front of me and I was flying. I blistered through the front with 2 pars, a double, the rest bogeys. Only 16 putts. I was playing well. The back started even better and through hole 14 I was on fire, coming off 3 pars in 4 holes.

Then I caught up to some ladies. who were stuck behind some ladies. Who were behind another group. 15 minutes later when i took my next shot there were people behind me. They did not want to join. I promptly put the tee shot ob right, my first penalty of the day I believe. Laying 3 off the tee, I can still save the hole. But the next tee shot was same place. Laying 5 off the tee. next shot almost as bad but bounced inbounds, went ob, hit a bush and bounced back just in bounds. But now I am 160 from the green and need a pitching wedge to get over some trees. So I have to lay up on my 6th shot. Yeah, I took a 9. No rhythm to my game. I missed a makeable parr putt on 18 but still finished with a 46-42.

Tuesday I destroyed poor Tim in 3 games of singles, won 2 cutthroat against he and David, started messing around then could not catch up and David won one, then I won the last cutthroat and a couple more singles games with Tim.

Thursday went back to King City. Got there and ready to swing by 3:45. Teed off at 4;10. On the bright side I got lots of putting practice and had a few swings with the 8 iron in their little net area. The shots were not hitting the net but i did not think too much of it.

Then I blasted my first tee shot in a massive hook ob. Then I dribbled a grounder out to the 150 yard marker...and that would be how it went.

It was taking 15 minutes per hole at least for the group ahead of me and I could not get into a groove. I could not figure out my swing either. I was hitting laser ground balls with my 55 degree wedge. I was hitting ground balls and hooks with my 7 wood, 4 hybrid, and everything else.

On the rather soft 249 par 4 I went ob, dribbler, dribbler, missed pitch, etc and had an 8. On 6 I dribbled it short, left behind trees. My pitch across was too far. My next shot hit a tree, never found it, drop, get on, 5-putt...or something. Honestly I was defeated by then, did not bother lining up putts, was missing 3' by 5', just whacking it, I think I actually just picked it up at some point.For handicap purposes the hole was an 8 but I scored it a ten.

Snapped my next drive left over the houses. Ended up with a 7. That is 17 shots in 2 holes...not good.

And then just like that I got my swing back. 4 hybrid to the 100 yard mark, pitching wedge to the green, putt to four feet, par, except...outside of the 5-putt hole where I essentially was discouraged and not trying, my first 3-putt of the day.

But 9 was better. Nice drive, 100 yard pitch to green, just missed tough birdie putt, par. Nice finish to the front.

5 pars, 2 bogeys on the back for a 43 and a 95 overall.

Oddity; both Monday and Wednesday I had 5 pars in 18 holes. yet I added 7 shots in the second round due to blowups. Weird game.


4/18/15: Vernonia, king City Round 25

Got together with Kristy, Patrick, Nick and JJ in Vernonia. I got there early and worked on a putting maneuver used by Justin Spieth where you look at the hole, then move your hands forward to start the putting motion. It was working well.

It did not start well as i started the ball right and hit a tree. Rather than punch out I tried to go around but the ball hit a tree and died. And again...anyway...

then on the back it was more of the same. Hit a much better drive but kind of lost sight of it, by the time we got down there I never did find it. I think I took like a 6 and 7.

Hole 2/11 should play well for my fade. I powdered the first drive but a bit too much bend. I would find it on the back nine but on front we thought it was in the water about 230 yards out. Drop, put it close...on the back I snap-hooked the drive and from 150 out could not put fade on it, decent chip but missed makeable putt and bogeyed it.

Hole 3/12

Yes, this is carved into a stump on the left side of the fairway...

This one has a tight fairway but is playable...until you get to the green and it is all over the place and heavily slanted. A missed downhill 2' putt just became an 8 yard chip as two people discovered. I had okay work on the front and a killer drive on the back. In fact, on the back I was 100 yards out and used the pitching wedge stroke I worked on with Matt Bryda, sticking it about 6' above and left of the hole. However, that meant I was realistically in danger of a double even with the fir-gir. But I made a decent lag with the first and just rolled in the second downhill sidehill putt for a par on arguably the toughest hole on the course.

Hole 4/13
115 yard par three. Tree short right, sand traps both sides.
on the front I found the left trap. It took me three tries to get out of the gravel. The less said the better. On the back I was 2" short of the right bunker. But it was BURIED in deep rough. I think I bogeyed it maybe?

Hole 5/14 has a tight range. Trees left and right off the box but then it opens up. I crushed my drive down the left side. Unbelievably we never found the ball so i had to drop. My hook did not hook on either the front or back. Drive on the back stayed right, some other guys picked up my ball so I had to drop. I did hit a nice 220 yard 4 hybrid to the right side of the green, a nice 55 degree over the sand to a makeable putt range so that was something.

Hole 6/14

Should be an easy one but I struggled all day. but this is fun:the bear carved into a stump.

Hole 7/15
This little prize is a beast. The water on the right is further protected by a ring of trees. The left is all trees and steep embankment. So you have a narrow opening to hit through and need a slight draw. I was pin high but right on the front. On the back I hit it straight and way long, then hit a tree on my first attempt, finally getting on in FOUR. It might be the only hole I played better on the front than the back...

Hole 8/17
If not for the dogleg I would have been going driver. But it was dogleg. No driver. No good on the front, though on the back I 1-putted for par.

Hole 9/18

On the front I pulled the driver for the first time all day. On the bright side I hit it about 260. On the dark side I was playing from the 8th fairway and landed short on my second shot, then took i think a bogey for a 52.

On the back I went further less right and less wrong, scrambled a bit and ended with eh.

On the back I ended up at 48. So 100 total.

Then I went to Redtail where they were having a club exchange/50% off sale. Spent a couple hours with Rick trying to find a driver that worked. We finally found a Calloway X2 Hot with a stiff tour shaft that between the club and his coaching he figures I will eventually be about 290 yards off the tee. And vaguely straight.

I was frustrated by my earlier round so went to King City to sneak in a quick 9.

On 1 I took the new driver, did not roll my rists but was a solid 260 and in the #9 fairway but not by much. I then left a half swing 55 degree short, chipped short, on in 4, 2 putt for a double.

My 7 wood was barely short on the 178 yard par 3. I had a nice chip and just missed the putt. bogey, okay.

Used my 4 hybrid and with the ground firming up got some roll, about 235 yard drive just barely left and short of green. I short-chipped but 2-putt for parr. Okay, now we are cooking.

From about 140 yards I went 7 iron and was pin high, albeit left. Decent chip but no break on green, and my first putt had no break. Still 2-putt for bogey, decent for me.

Stuck the 6 iron a little long and right. With a downhill chip to a sidehill green I was short on the green, then the first putt just would not roll but I hit the 2nd for another bogey.

Caught up to some guys who waved me through. Hit the 4 hybrid too high, landing about 120 out. Hit my 9 iron thin, long and right. Short on the chip, and a weak second chip but another 2 putt. A double, but not horrible.

The 352 yard "par 5". Tried the new driver with the tee it high, let it fly. It did fly...high and left. It was a cart path aided 150 yarder. My off the fairway 4 hybrid (nice bounce) was a little short from 200 out and slightly right. Decent chip, just missed putt, "par".

I am sitting on a 33 and thinking about my low for the year. New driver, rolled my wrists...rained it off the condos way left. Laying 3. Rolled my wrists, well left into the street. Laying 5. Switched to the 4 Hybrid, skied it to the 140 mark. Bladed the 7 iron pin high but right. Overshot green to far fringe. Putted from there so badly I was further off the green than that shot...ended up with a ten. First double figure hole of the year...

So much for my low. Rolled wrists on new driver...never saw the ball. Had literally no clue where it was. Re-tee. Hit it to the 150 mark leftish. 8 iron onto front edge of green. Saw first was 270 yard drive left of fairway. Ball below feet I did 8 iron half swing and about 5 yards short. Not a great chip left long putt. 2 putt for bogey.

And a 48 that should have been a 43 or better....but better than the morning round

Round 24

Went out with a vendor and it started well. Drive was long and just barely left of center. Overshot green by 20 yards but chipped to 6' and 1-putted for par.

Next hole a little draw on tee shot and hit provisional, though figured I would find the ball. I did not. 3 off the tee, a bad chip, a 2 putt...I just had a 6.

A nice drive followed by landing on the green in reg. Missed birdie by about 2" but had a second par on the first three holes.

We have now completed the decent portion of the proceedings.

Hook left ob, made a great lag on my 4th shot, missed an easy putt, one-handed the overshoot, missed that, basically just gave up and took a triple. Followed by a quadruple, bogey, bogey, quadruple, triple. It was a complete and utter meltdown and a 54.

King City rounds 21,22,23 4/11/15

I was at the course by 6:30, teed off at 7:05. 4H long but straight...which since I was playing for a draw meant into the 9th fairway.But a nice wedge over trees to close, chip to 4', 1 putt par. Should have walked off the course right there because the day only went downhill.

I missed the 178 yard par 3 short right, chipped to about 6' and just missed that. Still, a bogey is not bad.

Then I hit my 4H well and fairway, but my chipping game betrayed me. Long on the second chip, putted from the fringe, had makeable putt I missed, another bogey.

That was the problem. I hit my 4h on the tight hole, had a beautiful drive. But then took 3 chips to get on the green from 65. Multiple times on all holes this happened all day long. I would have a nice drive. My 4H was solidly between 200 and 240, mostly fairway all day.

Played 27 holes. 13 fairways, in 18 attempts. many 1-putts 5 pars. But many times after a fairway I would take 2-4 more shots from 85 yards or less to get on the green. I MUST get that under control. Still, lots of fun, lot of distance walked.

I also hit a couple shots I am very happy with. One was a 55 degree wedge from about 85 yards that i was able to "shape" right to left to go around a tree and it landed in directional terms exactly where i wanted, successfully going around.

The other was a 7-wood I tried to go the other way and successfully created a left to right ball movement. Unlike most of my life, however, this one was on purpose. I considered angles, swing path, and deliberately created it.