Friday, April 28, 2006

Down the Final Stretch...

I signed up again for another month at Green Caye. This month will represent my final month as a beginner because June 3rd will complete my first year playing the game.

Good Round at The Battleground...

I played a round at The Battleground on Wednesday with a friend from work. I did pretty well shooting a 99 (my course handicap). My record there is 98, and my goal was to shoot under 100. Here are the stats:

Fairways hit... 6
GIRs........... 3
Birdies........ 1
Pars........... 2 (1 up and down)
Putts......... 34
Bogeys......... 7
Doubles........ 5
Triples........ 1
Bad holes...... 2 (2 7s on par 3s)
Balls lost .... 4 (4 water)

The four water balls account for four of the five doubles. I had two 3-putts and five 1-putts. Too bad most of those 1-putts were for bogey. I really have nothing to complain about for this round. Sure I shanked a couple shots, but all in all I hit the ball pretty well. Given all my practice at Green Caye (a par 3 course), I should have done better on the par threes. I did not make par on any of them and the two 7s I carded were downright ugly.

Kickoff at The Caye...

I shot two loops at Green Caye to kick off my last month as a beginner. I did pretty well hitting very solid shots on all but a couple of holes. I shot 37 and 34 with pretty good stats. The first loop I made 3 pars, hitting 2 greens, crapped out a 7 on one of the easiest holes on the course, and finished with a double. The second loop went very well until I pulled a shot into the water on #7. I had bogey par bogey par bogey par TRIPLE bogey par. I hit four greens (three putted one) and had one up and down.

Looking Ahead...

I'm going to keep on keepin' on as I have been for the last couple of months. I'm getting more comfortable with my irons and I'm drawing the ball consistently. I'm still flying the ball with the 60* LW around the greens with some success. My main problem is that most of the time the ball checks but sometimes it releases. I can't put my finger on how to control that so if anyone has a clue, please chime in. It might be time to learn to use 9i or PW around the greens with a "bump and run" type shot. I've seen many players use this shot with good results. I've also been focusing on not leaving putts short. I played a couple match play style rounds and I've found that if I take an attitude of "I need this putt to win the hole", I putt much better. I still have trouble fading/slicing my drives and my ball flight is very high with my 10.5* R540 XD. I need to learn to hit a lower flying soft draw consistently with the driver.

Dad (my Father-in-law) will be down for Chance's 4th birthday and we'll be taking an afternoon to play golf. I'm not sure where we'll play, but I'm thinking about Tour18, Southwyck, or Magnolia Creek. All are very nice (but a little spendy) courses that I have only dreamed about playing.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

All's Well that Ends Well...

Defeat at The Battleground...

My hopes of a record round at The Battleground could be summed up by my first tee shot (that, with a little help from the wind, went swimming). I hit a total of six balls into the water and not all of them were tee shots. I made only two pars, one on the par 3 8th (150 yds all carry over water with an 8i), and the par 4 12th (409 yard #2 hcp hole). In the end, I shot a 107. Here are the stats:

Fairways hit... 6
GIRs........... 1 (1 just missed, 2 sand)
Birdies........ 0
Pars........... 2 (1 up and down on 12)
Putts......... 38
Bogeys......... 2
Doubles........ 8
Triples........ 4
Balls lost .... 6 (6 water)

Then I tried again:

Fairways hit... 7
GIRs........... 3
Birdies........ 0
Pars........... 6 (3 up and downs)
Putts......... 35
Bogeys......... 3
Doubles........ 2
Triples........ 5
Balls lost .... 6 (5 water, 1 OB)

I felt a lot better the second time around (shooting 102), though I still managed to find plenty of water.

The final two holes were sweet though. The 17th is a short par 5 of 454 yards and the wind was straight left to right. Water lines the entire right side of the fairway. I hit a great tee shot well left and the wind brought it back in on the left side of the fairway. An easy 3W got me to the fringe on the left and I was putting for eagle. I ended with par, but was very happy that I came the closest I've ever been to "on in 2" on a par 5. The 18th is a short par 4 of 378 yards with a carry over water on the approach shot to a highly elevated green. I teed the ball a bit too high and got under it which left me about 230 yards out. I went for it with the 3W and cleared the water to land 5 yards in front of the green. I made a pretty good chip to 10 feet below the pin and made the putt for par.

I just had no confidence in anything out there. I felt like I was afraid to hit the ball with a full swing. My putting was miserable and I left almost everything well short the first 18. I did better the second 18 because I made an effort not to leave putts short. Of course that left me with 6ft comebackers in many cases.

I need to learn to trust my swing.

Closing round at Green Caye...

Last night was the last night of my month-long membership at Green Caye. After playing so many rounds at a course, there's not a lot of thinking involved. I went with my mind made up that I would trust my swing and make the shot... And it worked well for the most part. I hit a 6i to start on the 180 yd hole into a gentle wind and drew it into what looked like a solid greenie. I found the ball on the fringe in the back but managed to par the hole (second time to par #1 in the last 32 attempts). I parred the next two, then took a double on #4 due to a topped tee shot and poor chipping. I came in with bogey-par-bogey-par-bogey for a solid 32. I was swinging almost lazily and flying the ball very well. My putting and chipping were outstanding as well. Of the five pars I made, four were up and downs. A very nice way to close out the month.

My earliest return to Green Caye will be next Monday. I will have no time for gold this weekend.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Range Work and Welcome Back Wind...

I hit a few buckets last night and I'm fairly sure I found my problem. Mostly, I was not releasing the club. The distance of a shot where I hold the club face square at contact is much less than the distance I get when I rotate the club face through square at impact. I think this rotating the club head is more responsible for my recent gains in distance than the previously thought source, a flatter swing. I think the flatter swing just facilitated a more natural, unforced release. Realizing this, I did pretty well at the range. Even with the long irons. I'm a little nervous because #4 and #8 at the battleground are tricky par threes that require a carry over water.

Looks like the wind will return for my round at The Battleground tomorrow:

Tomorrow's round will be my first round at The Battleground since February 17th.

Sure wish I had that 8.5* driver :P


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Quickie Update...

No tournament for me...

I contacted one of the BGA officers and sadly, I was told I could not play because it's a Member/Guest tournament and each member must bring a guest. So, I fired off an email to all the guys that I've played with and none were able to play. So, I found a slot at The Battleground Saturday afternoon.

Lost my swing...

...and my money!!!

I played with Martin again last night. We played 0.25 for holes won and 0.25 for greens hit. I could not hit a tee shot. I was utter crap last night and quickly became frustrated. My chipping and putting made up for it though and I lost by just one stroke and only lost a 0.25 on the evening. I'm down 0.50 total.

With a few minutes left before the lights went out, I decided to hit a few balls with the driver to tune up for Saturday. I couldn't hit a straight shot. Very discouraging. The last night I was out there, Martin let me hit his Titelist 975D 8.5* driver with a ProLaunch 75g "S" shaft (I liked it too) a few times and I was hitting it straight 275+ over and over again. I know part of the problem was that I was not finishing on the follow through, and looking back, that may have been because I was not transferring my weight properly.

I hope I get a chance to regain some confidence before Saturday. My tee time is 11:48 so as a last resort I'll hit some balls before I tee off.


Monday, April 10, 2006

Post Masters Update...

Obligatory Masters Comment...

I enjoyed watching the Masters tournament on television and webcast. That Amen Corner Live was great stuff. Like most folks, I was hoping to see someone challenge Phil, but it didn't happen. Particularly enjoyable was watching Mediate try to get out of the sand, and Couples 3-putt from 5ft. I didn't find it enjoyable because it ruined their chances, but because it gives us hackers something we can to relate to. I mean these guys are good, but once in a while they suck like the rest of us. These guys flubbed their shots with real stuff on the line, and I think most of them handle it very well.

Green Caye Update...

I have now played twenty-nine 9-hole rounds at Green Caye. Most of those rounds have been at night. In fact, I've been playing so many rounds at night, daytime golf was a shocker this past weekend. I managed three rounds in daylight on Sunday and I set yet another record.


Before I get to the record I thought I'd talk about a couple of guys that we got paired with. These guys were average golfers (they sucked like me), yet they would throw a fit when they missed a shot. I played with one of them before, and he threw his club on that day (and I had my 3 year old son with me). He apoligized for acting that way in front of my son.

I can't understand how some folks can get so upset when playing on a par 3 course. It's not like they were playing for money either. I'm thankful that most of us accept that we will make many mistakes out there on the course and simply move on when we do. Let's all just accept that we will not be able to hit like the pros. We can however, learn to behave like the pros (most pros... I know there are poor examples out there) when we make a mistake.


I played with Martin on Sunday. This was the fourth time I played with Martin, and this time we decided to play for money. Martin is 60 and retired and our skill on this course is similar possibly favoring Martin a bit due to consistancy and putting. We decided each hole won would be 25 cents for the winner. I had been wanting to play for money for quite some time. I think it's just another way to help me focus more on each shot. I wanted to play one loop from each tee, but Martin did not want to play from "the ladies tees" even after I insisted that those tees were simply there to offer another yardage choice. So we played tips-whites-tips. I'll skip the details and just move to the dramatic finish. With Martin up 2, I birdied the 8th with a green followed by a 15ft putt. Martin was 3ft from bogey on the 9th and I was just on the fringe after 3 seriously pathetic shots. My 60* wedge shot flew straight and high then bounced softly on the green and rolled slowly over the final 10 feet and dropped into the cup. Martin made his putt and I paid up ($0.25). It was very fun. Next time we'll be adding 0.25 for greens and 0.25 for closest to the pin.

Looking back, I'm going to say that I was pretty lucky because Martin was having a bad putting day. Being older and wiser, he played almost every hole short which is the best conservative way to play this course.

I hit eight greens over the 27 holes. Here are the stats on those holes:

First loop (tips)
#5 175 yards with a 7i
#6 167 yards with a 7i

Second loop (whites)
#2 106 yards with 52* GW
#3 143 yards with a 9i

Third loop (tips)
#2 125 yards with a PW
#4 150 yards with a 9i
#5 175 yards with a 7i
#2 139 yards with a 91

All of these hole have something in common. They are all on the edge of how far I thought I could hit that club. As a result, I took a full swing knowing that I would likely be short. I hit the greens because I'm hitting the center of the club face much more often, and the conditions were warm, light and dry (remember I usually play at night).

I came to this conclusion last Friday night when I pushed two 6i shots OB on the right on #5 and in disgust, pulled the 7i figuring I'd at least hit it straight. And I hit that 7i right on the green 4 feet from the pin.

It seems that when I try to take a little off of a shot, I stop accelerating before I hit the ball, essentially coasting through the ball, and subconsiously I'm trying to guide the clubface through impact. In addition, I don't complete the follow through. While I get a consistant result, it is not a disirable one (push - fade).

So how can this help my game? Well, I'm hoping it will help in one very specific place, the number 1 hole. You can review this hole in my first tournament report. I usually hit a 5i here (and usually push-fade it right), and I've only hit the green once in the last 29 tries. I think this hole has my number mentally. It's the elevated turtle back green, the water on the left, and the OB on the right. My plan is to go for it with the 7i and hope to hit the front of the green. If I can't get there with the 7i, I'm going to try the 6i even though I can't hit the 6i as straight as I can hit the 7i. I might get to put that plan into action tonight.

That leads me to my current weakness, my long irons. I have a hard time hitting the 4 and 5 irons off of the turf. I can hit them with marginal success off of a tee. I managed to hit my 4i about 200 yards off of a tee on my third try on the 9th hole from the white tees. The first two faded/sliced and I noticed I was fininsing with my weight on my back foot. I fixed that on the third shot, but still had a bit of fade and I missed the green slightly long and right on this 196 yard hole. I think my problem is that I instinctively feel like I have to swing harder. They offer lessons at Green Caye for an exceptional price of $25.00 per hour. I'm considering a lesson with the long irons.

Oh yeah, the new record? I shot 46 on the second loop (from the whites), besting my previous worst-round record by one stroke. I know I can do better, c'mon 47 :P Seriously though, it was pretty brutal -> 7 4 3 3 5 5 5 4 10.

Next Tournament...

BGA is hosting their biggest tournament of the year this Saturday. While I haven't played Bayou since February 18th, I'm going to head down there and see if I can get in on the action.

Days Till Dad Gets Here (DTDGH) = 52

Monday, April 03, 2006

Whole Lotta Post...

Holy moley I have so much to blog about...

A couple of posts ago I said "Next time I'll post some thoughts on the event in general and the difference between how we play in a tournament vs. how we play day-to-day."

Note to self - Never include in a post what you'll post about next time!!

Catch Up:

The tournament in general... The tournament started about forty minutes after the scheduled start time. The first group and starting hole were assigned, then the first group took off for the first hole. Even though we yelled, "WAIT!!!, STOP!!!" the yells failed to overpower the wind (it was WINDY!!!) and they started while the rest of us waited for the remaining group/hole assignments. Did this screw up the shotgun start? You bet it did!!

After the group/hole assignments, there were a few rules questions brought up. To summarize, it was made known that you play the ball as it lies (no winter rules) and you putt out (no gimmies).

During the course of the tournament we noticed that many folks were taking a drop on the fairway after hitting the ball out of bounds. While it did not sit well with me, I let it go in the beginning because those who were doing it were likely not going to be in contention for any prize money. Then on the last hole, we saw two of the four guys hit it OB and jump in their cart (we did not see the first two hit their tee shot). These guys were in a group that reportedly was shooting well, so we called them on it and made them hit it again (and again, and again in one of their cases). We did not see the first two guys because they drove off as soon as the final ball was struck, but they were looking in the OB area for something.

Two points on this:

First, it's better to reivew the rules with the participants especially for a tournament like this where there are obviously many beginners.

Second, and this deals with the "how we we play in a tournament vs. how we play day-to-day" part of my promise, is that I generally took a drop for an OB hit when playing day to day. It just seems to be accepted as a way to keep up with the pace of play. Often I could argue that the results probably would not have changed. However, if you're playing in 20-30 mph winds, you face a much higher chance of messing up the second shot (or worse). I have in the past hit a provisional ball after an OB shot (which is the right thing to do) but it takes that much more time to look for the OB ball and hit the following shot of the provisional ball. Of course it gets more complicated if you hit the provisional OB.

So what do you do, hit or drop?

Since this enlightenment, I decided to start playing every round like it were a tournament and hit another ball.

Which brings me right up to the next topic, my Green Caye stats update. I can now say that after taking stroke and distance, the difference is NOT negligable as my current stats show my average score up almost two strokes in about 15 loops.

Stats ....... Current .. Last Month
Greens ...... 1.5 ...... 1.89 . (per 9 holes)
Up and Down . 11 ....... 24 ... (percent parred of greens missed)
Ave Pars .... 2.2 ...... 3.0 .. (per 9 holes)
Ave Score ... 37 ....... 35.33
3 Putts ..... 0.9 ...... 0.89 . (per 9 holes)
4 Putts ..... 0.0 ...... 0.22 . (per 9 holes)
Ave Putts ... 17 ....... 17 ... (per 9 holes)

This is data from the 22 loops I've played at Green Caye since I signed up for another month on March 17th. No, there are no typos here. I have played 22 9-hole loops of the par three course in nine visits. Yes, this looks more like last September's stats.

What happened to my game? Well, part of the story is that I'm a man. You may recall how happy I have been that my "slower, flatter swing" has given me one to two clubs gain in distance. As you can guess, I couldn't leave well enough alone and (being a man...) I started swinging faster about the third trip down there and my consistency went out the window. Add to that that now I will hit another shot when I zing one OB and the results are in. Yeah, I need to ease up a bit. I'll go ahead and throw a couple more excuses in there and mention that it has been very windy and rainy. I feel I can play pretty well in the wind, but I had a heck of a time chipping off of wet soggy greenside turf for a few days.

The Big Ugly...

Since I encourage posting the bad news with the good, I set a new record during this period, 45. Yep, I shot a 45 on a par three course. We call that a flyer in the statistics world (and it shows). I was really having a bad day (is that not obvious) and I hit three balls OB. Two on the 9th where I carded a 7 to go along with the quartets of 4s and 5s and a 6 on the 8th (where I hit two into the water). I think bad day is an understatement. Now let's forget about that and move on to some good news...

New Personal Record: 86 at San Jac (Blues)

I played San Jac last Thursday in very windy conditions (SSE 20-30 mph). Here are the stats:

Fairways hit... 6
GIRs........... 4
Birdies........ 2
Pars........... 4
Putts......... 28
Bogeys......... 9
Doubles........ 2
Triples........ 1
Balls lost .... 0 (Can I get an Amen!!!)

This was my 39th regulation round and it brings my handicap down to 24.9

While I'm very happy about this, I really need to break 90 at some of the more difficult courses like The Battleground.

The more I reflect on these stats, the more I realize the importance of the short game. Since I don't hit a lot of greens, my greenside chips will make or break a round for me. Right now, I'm better off missing the green if hitting the green means a long putt.

No golf for me...

My wife worked this past weekend which meant I would not be playing any golf. That's all good because I sure have been playing a ton of golf. However, once I got the kids to bed I went out and grabber my putter. I putted around a bit before hitting the computer room.

It was during some reading on one of the golf forums (golfwrx or golfreview) that I stumbled into this link:

I have Tiger Woods 2005 and I've played it quite a bit, so I didn't expect too much from this free online game. But after I downloaded and installed it, I was instantly hooked. It's a mix of golf and RPG gaming. The best part is that you get to play with other real people. If you like golf games, you'll like this! If you like RPG games like The Sims, you'll like this!! Really, you'll like this!!!

Go ahead and check it out!!! Once you figure it out, give me a hollar for a round. I'll bet you can guess my name - New2Golf

Cya on the virtual links,