Friday, December 16, 2005

Backslide at The Battleground...

Out With It...

Forget the foreshadowing, I need to get this out... I shot 106 yesterday. I was all set to best my record (98) after firing a 48 on the front in wet, windy, cart path only conditions. And then I fell apart.

I had a chat with a friend the night before. I was trying to convince him to join me for the round. He didn't want anything to do with it (it was pouring rain while we talked). He said it would be a miserable round and described to me what his experiences were in these conditions. However, I knew it would be sunny, I figured "so what" on the cart path only thing, and what's a little wind?

And I held that attitude up until the 11th where I hit the ball straight into the 15-20 mph wind (gusting to your ball flies backwards). What would normally have been a 220 - 230 yard drive to carry a creek ended up being a lay-up shot. It had landed on the left side about 10 feet off of the fairway in an area where there are some trees and mounds. Now the problem here is that the cart path is on the right side of the fairway and I could not see my ball. I considered how far I was from the hole and selected the STRONG 5W (hoping for a nice lie) and my hybrid (for a not-so-nice lie). I found my ball on the front slope of one of these mounds and there were trees blocking my approach. What I needed was a PW or 9i to get across the creek and in position to hit an approach shot.

The Wrong Choice...

I was playing well and brimming with confidence and figured I could hit an easy swing with the hybrid that would get me where I needed to be.

I don't know what I was thinking. How could I have thought that a ball hit with a 21* hybrid lying on a 30* slope pointing at the water would go anywhere other than the water?

I simply fell apart after that. I shagged my tee shot on the following hole (a par three) and then 3-putted. I hit two into the water on 14 for a 9 (par 5). Another shagged tee shot on a par 3... I'll spare you the rest... In the end, 58 on the back for a 106 round at The Battleground.

The Cause...

After the round I decided to hit a few balls on the range. After a few shot (shags) I realized that I was not keeping my head down and not keeping my eye on the ball. I struggled with this for some time and it required focus to overcome. Why is it that old habits come back in golf? Once I figured this out, I was hitting the ball beautifully.

Daddy Needs a New Pair of Shoes...

Another thing I did at the range was to waggle my stance until I felt I had a good grip on the ground with my feet. I don't wear golf shoes and I have been aware that I slip and come off balance especially with the driver. When I concentrated on "digging in" with my feet, I could really swing better and harder with more control and feel. This has convinced me that golf shoes will make a difference in my game. I have a sneaking suspicion that Santa has a Golf Galaxy gift card with my name on it so I'll wait until after the holidays to make the purchase.

One Last Thing...

I've mentioned the 1st at The Battleground several times and this time I took a photo with the W-10. The quality is pretty poor, but it's better than nothing.

There's always next time,

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Weekend Report...

I tried to get a round in last Friday, but only managed nine holes. I had planned on playing at Bayou but at the last minute I noticed a discount tee time at my favorite course, The Battleground. The tee time was for 1:00 and available for 1 to 4 players. I grabbed it with the intention of getting there early and trying to start at 12:00 (I had to be home by 4:30). When I arrived I saw no less than seven school busses - there was a high school tournament in progress. On this day, I would not tee off before 1:15.

This was an interesting round for me for several reasons...

It was cool enough to wear long pants - 40 degrees. Up to this point I've always played in shorts. In the end it didn't matter, it was plenty comfortable golfing in jeans.

I purchased over 100 balls on eBay last week, mostly Nike, Maxfli, and Precept, for about twenty bucks. I rummaged through them and found a half dozen Nike Super Soft balls. This would be the first time I've played with the same ball - well, with the same type of ball. I usually go through an assortment of whatever balls I've gathered while "hunting".

The balls performed well. I seemed to be a tad longer with the irons (average drive = 233, long drive = 295); I hit two approach shots longer than I expected. I putted very well too. I made 18 putts (two three-putts, two one-putts) but I felt consistent with my first putt on each hole leaving a short second putt. I think using the same ball is key to consistent putting during a round.

Here are the stats:
Fairways hit... 3
GIRs........... 0
Birdies........ 0
Pars........... 1
Putts......... 18
Bogeys......... 5
Doubles........ 1
Triples........ 2
Bad holes...... 0
Balls lost .... 3 (3 water)

I have to be happy with a score like that at The Battleground. I'm disappointed that I was unable to play eighteen, but I played well.

Joining a Golf Association...

I gathered some information on two Golf Associations: Battleground and Bayou.

Bayou is way cheaper and I will join there. Since I book Battleground through a discount golf site, I would be throwing money away to play with their Golf Association. I would definitely join if I could play in their events for the same rates that I pay there now, but it would cost me nearly twice as much - no thanks. Bayou has exactly what I need and I'll be joining up soon.

Looking ahead for the week, I might be able to play on Thursday and hopefully make it out to the range Wednesday night if it's not raining. I see a discount tee time at The Battleground that is for 1 to 4 players, but it's at 11:08. I'd prefer to play later, so I might try booking a tee time for two and try to find a partner.

Gunnin' for 95 on round #19,

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Mid-Week Rambling...

Bayou Golf Association...

Last time I played (link) I became aware of Bayou Golf Association. It seems that BGA is just what I'm looking for: Competitive play in the form of low cost tournaments with a varity of formats, and an official handicap service. I need to find out about joining up! Just in time too as I can almost see the light at the end of the 20 round tunnel.

Range Time...

I made it to the range last night and started off with the 6 iron. I had trouble hitting a straight shot - everything was fading or mildly slicing. This is odd because I've been hitting pretty straight with the irons lately. I tried the 3 iron with similar results. Then I decided to push the club head out more on impact and bingo, straight shots and even a few draws. A few hits with the fairway woods showed great results. I was getting a nice high trajectory with the STRONG 5W, and distance on the 3W looks to be well over 200 yards. As seems to be the trend (once you figure something out), all of a sudden I was having trouble geting consistant direction with the driver. I had to fool with ball placement and stance before I was able to hit the ball down the target line. I think I might have been swinging too hard or accelerating too quickly after the top of the back swing, I'm not sure.

Like last time, I worked on chipping and putting before heading home and I finished the putting drills in significantly less time. If I continue to get through these drills quickly, I'll have to work up something a little more difficult.

Golf Outlook...

Looks like I'll be gearing up for my 19th round this Friday. The Battleground is out because there are no suitable tee times. No worries though, I'll be happy to head down to Bayou to have a shot at my record as well as gather some information about Bayou Golf Association. Two more rounds and I'll have my twenty-round requirement for an official handicap.

Golf Shoes...

After five months, I finally made it to the local Golf Galaxy. I looked at some Footjoy golf shoes that seemed like regular sneakers with those soft cleats. They were forty bucks and that seems reasonable for golf shoes. I had been to Goldsmith where I tried on some more traditional golf shoes (also Footjoys), but they seemed pretty stiff and uncomfortable. I felt there was no way I would be comfortable walking courses with those shoes. In the end, I walked out empty handed, but I'm thinking about getting those sneaker-style Footjoys - even if for nothing else than to keep my regular sneakers clean. Thinking about golf shoes brings me back to the question of their worth where my game is concerned. Will they improve my game or not? I don't know, but if I get them I'll be sure to post my thoughts.

Golf gloves...

I don't use a golf glove. I have no problem holding on to the club and I don't like the idea of donning/doffing a glove 30+ times per round. However, nearly everyone uses one. I've heard that Fred Couples does not wear a glove. What's the deal here? I suppose one of these days I'll give it a try.

The Shaft...

I'm considering going to a stiff shaft on my driver. I think I'll try Golf Galaxy's launch monitor to compare my driver with the same model with a stiff shaft. I'll need to be sure to take notes so I'll have some baseline statistics for future visits.

Golf Balls...

I generally don't buy golf balls. I know I lose lots of them, but I usually come out of the woods with a few extras. I have recently begun to feel the difference between a hard ball and a soft ball. Like most other folks, I prefer the soft ball for chipping and putting. Now I'm trying to determine which balls are hard and which are soft.

Well, that's enough babbling for now,

Friday, December 02, 2005

Steady as She Goes...

Maintaining goals...

I Made it down to Bayou today. I had a rough start on the front nine shooting a 51. I scored an 8 on two par 4s, but otherwise managed 1 par and 5 bogeys. I played the back with a 12 handicapper and that was all it took to turn my game on. I shot a 44 on the back with one birdie. So, 95 - one off my best score and right on target for my "maintain sub-100 scores" goal and the 44 is a good confidence builder for breaking 90.

Here are the stats on the day:

Fairways hit.. 10
GIRs........... 2
Birdies........ 1
Pars........... 2
Putts......... 35
Bogeys........ 10
Doubles........ 3
Triples........ 0
Bad holes...... 2
Balls lost .... 3 (2 water, 1 deep rough)

That 44 is my lowest score to date on nine regulation holes. My penalties are becoming fewer and fewer. I had an outstanding day with the driver hitting 10 fairways. My average drive was 233, the long drive was 281, and the short was a scant 150 (good thing too cause 155 would have been wet). I just couldn't capitalize and get the GIRs. I did hit one green pretty good though:

That was on the 12th hole where I hit a 236-yard drive which left a 116-yard approach. My pitching wedge is usually good for about 112. That was my second birdie on a regulation course. My ball is the one about four feet from the pin. I was pretty nervous - hate to miss one like that for birdie.

I'm adding another goal to the list from last post:

Make 6 or more pars in a round.

I'm pretty tired so I'm going to cut this one short.

Starting to smell those 80s,

Thursday, December 01, 2005

98 at The Battleground...

What a day - Busted 100 at The Battleground!!!

I met up with Bob, who I met through Bob is getting back into the game after a 13-year break. I thought Bob played pretty well but struggled with pushing and slicing his drives. He became frustrated near the end of the round and given that he was a 12-13 handicapper, I can certainly understand his frustration. Bob is looking to get his game back, and I'm looking forward to playing a few rounds with him along the way.

I started the round in a big way. I declared my target and let it rip. My ball flew perfectly at my target and landed on the fairway some 281 yards from the tee. I followed that with a hybrid that landed just short of the green and off to the right on this 461-yard par 5. A chip and two putts later and I recorded a par on number one.

Another notable hole was the 13th. This is a tough hole (the No. 2 HCP for the course), a par 4 of 409 yards that plays into the wind. I got under the ball on my drive and was left with about 250 yards to the green. I was on the fairway and I knew I would not be able to reach the green with my hybrid. Given my success at the range with the fairway woods, I decided to try the 3 wood. I hit a nice shot that landed left of the fairway about one foot from the ditch. The shot was straight, just pulled a little and flew about 220 yards into the wind. Not bad for the first use of a fairway wood on the course in quite some time. Just another confirmation that my "tucked elbow" swing technique is working.

I won't go into any more narrative details, but here are the stats for the round:

Fairways hit... 4
GIRs........... 5
Pars........... 5
Putts......... 35
Bogeys......... 5
Doubles........ 5
Triples........ 2
Bad holes...... 1
Balls lost .... 3 (water)

The bad hole was the 12th. It's a par 3 165-yard hole and I shanked the tee shot off to the left and behind some trees. Since I had no shot at the green, I punched out. From there I chipped into the bunker, close to the lip. I got out in two shots, and down in two putts. Now I don't know about any of you, but if my "blow-up" hole is an "8", I'm just going to count my blessings. Lord knows it could have easily been a 9, 10, or 11 (hopefully I won't see anymore 13s!!!).

My driving was pretty good even though the "Fairways Hit" stat does not show it. I hit many long drives that were just off of the fairway. My average driving distance for the round was 246 yards (based on fairways hit). I still managed to slice a couple though.

Lessons learned:
I need to keep my focus on the back nine at The Battleground. Much of the front nine plays crosswind and so I focus more on drives. The back nine has some more open fairways that play downwind and offer an opportunity for the 300-yard monster drive. Going for the monster drive is a low percentage shot. I need to keep focused and be happy with 250+ and on the fairway.

New Goals:
Now that I've broken 100 at The Battleground, I need to set some new goals. I think breaking 90 there is a pretty lofty goal, so I'll go for 95. In addition, I would like to continue playing at sub-100 level for all of my rounds and so that will remain a daily goal on all courses. Sub-100 golf is still a pretty good goal because I have played 17 rounds and only broken 100 twice. However, I feel that I have learned what I need to do to play at the sub-100 level and I feel I should be able to maintain this level of play.

Stay below 100
Break 95 at The Battleground
Break 90 at Bayou, Pasadena, and San Jac
Make more than 6 pars in a round

Bayou and Pasadena have similar slope and rating, yet I have yet to break 100 at Pasadena. I fully expect to play much better there now that I am driving the ball straight.

Loose Ends...
One of the loose ends from previous posts that I wanted to tie up is the Olympus W-10 digital voice recorder. I received this awhile back and used it once when I played Pasadena. It worked like a charm for scorekeeping and note taking. I took a couple of photos and I got what I expected - about cell phone camera quality (see a shot in this post). If you like to walk I recommend this little device as an alternative to writing your score on the scorecard.

Next up...

I'm thinking about playing tomorrow in the early afternoon. If I do I'll play Bayou since that is the better course for walking.

Dreaming about the 80s,