Sunday, December 31, 2006

Figured it Out...

My ball striking has been garbage lately. I don't know how I've managed to crap together some respectable scores the last several times out (I played The Battleground last Wednesday and shot a 49/42 = 91).

This afternoon I figured it out.

The kids and I were playing a couple loops with Martin at Green Caye and on the fourth hole of the second loop I shanked one hard right. This has happened before, and today I realized that I was making contact too close to the hosel. The shanks were due to hitting the hosel!

After realizing this I took my stance a bit further out and addressed the ball a bit out toward the toe. I pushed the shot right, but made nice contact on the sweet spot (and managed the up and down). Same thing one the next hole. The next two holes I hit the greens and made the pars. On number nine, I hit the green with a 2 iron (216 yards into a stiff breeze) and made the 15 foot putt for birdie!!

That was the first time to birdie number nine and I have now birdied all nine holes at Green Caye!!!

I'm jumping for joy now that I have figured out the difficulties with my iron play. I can't wait to head out onto a regulation course and tear it up!! What a great way to end the year :)

Happy New Year,

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sticking to the Plan...

I played Bay Forest again today. This course is very similar to The Battleground in layout, length, slope and rating, but it is five to ten dollars more to play. So, in the past I've always chosen to play The Battleground. This is my third time to play Bay Forest and the third consecutive Wednesday I've been able to take advantage to the $18 discount rate. In my opinion, The Battleground is more difficult because the fairways slope down to the water and a missed fairway is usually lost in the woods. At Bay Forest, the layout is flatter, and while there are plenty of trees, you generally won't lose your ball because the course is more park-like if that makes sense.

I went out with the play-for-bogey strategy and finished with a 90 (45/45) even after an opening snowman. I hit maybe two solid drives all day. Here are some stats:

Fairways hit... 3
GIRs........... 5
Birdies........ 0
Pars........... 6 (1 sweet sand save)
Putts......... 35
Bogeys......... 8
Doubles........ 3
Triples........ 0 (
Quad........... 1 (drove water)
Balls lost .... 2 (2 water)

I shot 10 over on the front. I was scrambling my butt off trying to make up for the snowman on number one. I hit very few solid shots, but playing conservatively let me sneak off the front nine with one quad, one double, four bogeys, and three pars.

I started off rough on the tougher back nine with bogey, double, bogey, double, then I started to hit the ball well in spite of my continued poor driving.

Number 14 is a short 503 yard par 5 with the water on both side of the fairway. I hit 4 iron off the tee down the middle. I pushed my second shot into the trees on the right. I tried a gentle punch with a 6 iron and rolled into the bunker guarding the left side of the green. The sand was hard and wet and I had an shot that went from the back left of the bunker to a front pin position. I had little green to work with and I had to carry 40 feet to get out of the sand. I laid the sixty-degree wide open, opened my stance way up and hit a perfect shot that stopped two feet short. Tap in for a par.

I then went bogey, bogey, par. I'm sitting on 18, a 415 yard par four with water guarding the front of the green. I pop my drive up into the air and it comes down left of the fairway with trees blocking my line to the pin. I could try to hit my 3W (which I hit off the deck fairly well today), or try to draw a 43 iron around the trees. I decided to try the draw but went with a 4 iron because the ball was sitting down in the rough. I made great contact and the ball curved left around the trees, bounced once in front of a bunker, and rolled up to within fifteen feet. I dropped the par putt.

This was one of those rounds where I seemed to play like crap till the last few holes. One of those rounds where you hate to quit cause you're finally hitting the ball well.

So, 10 over on the front and 8 over on the back and I squeak through with a 90. I should have shot way worse given the way I was hitting the ball. The bogey strategy seems to have worked pretty well and I'll try to stick with it. I feel I should slide solidly into the 80s (provided I can hit the ball solidly for more than the last few holes).

Not sure when I'll be playing again. I see someone already grabbed the 8:30 slot for next week. I knew those $18 Wednesday rates would get around. Now the course is pretty busy on Wednesdays.

Once again, have a Very Merry Christmas,

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

18 Months of Golf and More...

18 Month Review…

December third marked eighteen months of golf.

From my one year anniversary to present,

20 Regulation rounds played (68 regulation rounds played in total)

Starting Hcp = 23.86
Current Hcp = 16.93

Scores (101, 81, 83, 95, 87, 107, 94, 86, 77, 84, 93, 94, 95, 83, 102, 98, 89, 79, 96, 92)

The last 10 rounds have been with the new clubs.

Three new courses played - Newport (89), Hillcrest (84, 79) and Bay Forest(96, 92)

Many, many loops on the local par three where my average has stuck around 35 for several months. I think I could reduce that number if I stopped experimenting with shots, but I think maintaining a 35 average while experimenting is acceptable.

Strategy for Bogey Golfers…

I’ve decided to play for bogeys. The main idea of this strategy is to minimize double bogeys and eliminate anything worse. I’m most likely to make a double (or worse) when I try to hard to make something happen, either on long holes or holes where I find myself in trouble. Mix in a few pars and get ready to keep the scores in the 80s.

New Club…

I purchased a new 3W on eBay late last month. It’s the Bridgestone J33 and it has 15* of loft and the stock Aldila NV75 shaft in stiff flex. I’ve been happy with the J33 Combo Irons I purchased a couple months ago and the J33 woods have had good reviews. The bad news is that Bridgestone golf clubs are hard to find in the local retail shops, so I bought it without hitting it. The good news is that Bridgestone clubs are not too popular in the US, so I got it for a steal ($58 shipped, brand new). I had been using my Dad’s (Father-in-Law) original Adams Tight Lie with a good bit of success. The only thing I don’t like about it was that I can’t hit it very far. I managed to get to a point where I can get 200 – 210 yards with it, but if I try to get more, it is at the great risk of a fade or slice. The main problem is that I can get 200 – 210 off the tee with my 3 iron so the Adams 3W was only used from the fairway (where I can’t get 200+ from my 3 iron). I can hit the new 3W 230 or more off the tee, but I can’t hit it reliably off the turf… yet.

Hitting the Simulator…

I found myself sucked into the local golf galaxy (which happens whenever I get within about 250 yards of it) where I hit some fairway woods in the simulator. I have to say I really like the Taylormade V-Steel woods. I was hitting them off of the matt very nicely. I still need a 5W and I’m considering the Taylormade V-Steel.

Google Earth…

I’ve talked about using Google Maps to analyze a course. I often make an index card with notes and ranges for any course I play – especially when I play a course for the first time. I recently discovered that Google Earth is a far superior tool for mapping courses. Google earth has two outstanding features. The first is a measurement tool (found in the Tools drop down). Using this tool, you can measure anywhere at any zoom level point to point. The second is the rotate feature that allows you to rotate the map such that you can best fit the hole to your display. I look at the hole, pick where I want to land my shot, measure the distance, pick the club and jot it down. I also note distances to hazards, depth of greens, and other notes I think may be useful.

Golfing for money…

I’ve mentioned I’ve been playing for quarters with Martin. Lately, Robert and Travis have been playing and now we have four players playing for quarters. I know twenty-five cents per hole is not too much, especially for two people, but when you get four players, it’s a very different game. With four players, nearly all holes are pushed. Bogeys rarely win and pars often push. As the number of pushed holes goes up, the tension rises. You have to keep your focus. Each shot that hits the green puts more pressure on the remaining players. Each chip that rolls up close to the pin puts more pressure on the remaining players. When the first two players miss their putt, the third player must make the putt to push the hole (assuming the closest to the pin putt drops). This four-player scenario forces you to focus and make the shot. It makes getting the greenie important because that’s what saves you if you’re not the one winning the series of pushed holes (greenies get 0.25 only if you make par and only the closest to the pin gets the greenie). So, casual gambling forces you to keep you focus and play your best. Oh, and if all that doesn’t add enough pressure, I’ve had my kids along whenever it does not interfere with their school. I tell the guys they should pay me for lessons. Nothing can teach you mental fortitude like a four and six year old doing what kids do while your making your six-footer to win a five-hole push. I’m teaching them etiquette and all, but come on, they can only be quiet and still for very, very short periods of time.

Now here’s the down side for me. All I’ve been doing is playing loops for money. I’ve played nineteen loops for money since November 24th (I’m currently down $6.25) and I’ve done little else. My iron game has spiraled down to rubbish. My average is 35 on nine holes (par is 27 on this par three course). Here’s what happened… I had a couple of bad rounds so I started to hit my tee shots from off of a tee in an attempt to gain an advantage. That worked for a little while, but then it got worse. I was over-drawing, over-fading, hitting fat, etc. I had lost all confidence. I worked myself into a position where my main mode of practice became a hindrance to my improvement.

Range Time…

Yesterday went looking for answers in the bottomless bucket. I figured out a couple of things. My main problem was that I had been addressing the ball too close. This had been causing pulls and fat shots. The other thing I learned is that my swing thought of, “open club face back, close club face through” is somewhat sensitive to how far I go with the backswing. For my three-quarter straight shots I have to rotate the face much less. For draw/fade shot I need the full swing.

Robert showed up while I was hitting on the range and we talked a lot about these things and more. Then we went out for a quick loop (no money) and we both shot pretty good. I shot 33 even though I pulled my tee shot OB left on number nine. Both of us made a birdie (me on No. 5 and Robert on No. 7). After the range work, I was hitting off the turf and I’m looking forward to getting some of my money back.

Playing with the kids…

While I’m not mentioning it specifically in the individual parts of this post, I have had my kids with me for the majority of play this month. The only exception would be the occasional weeknight loop. I even bought my kids new clubs since the current set was too big for them. Everyone who sees them hit has been impressed. While they’re not playing tee to green yet, they hit one off the tee and then put a couple of times. They’re hitting the ball pretty good. Once while waiting for the group in front (and no one behind us) Robert challenged my daughter to a little putting. She tied him. There is a nine-hole putting course with some challenging putts. My son managed a two-putt on one that was no less than fifty feet. His second was from about fifteen feet. Big time high fives followed.

Green Caye Birdies This Month…

I finally made birdie on number one at Green Caye this month. I managed to roll up onto the green in the extreme front right. The pin was back left. It was nearly the longest possible putt on this green. I don’t know the exact distance, but I would estimate the putt was 60 to 70 feet. The best part was the putt won a push of several holes between four players. I made two other birdies this month and each of those were long putts as well. With the birdie on number one, I have birdied all the holes on the course except number nine.

Hole in One…

Martin made a hole in one on number eight on a misty, foggy night. The fog was so thick that we couldn’t see the greens. I had to take my glasses off because the constant mist made using them worse than my 20/30 vision. As I walked on to the green, Martin was thinking his ball rolled off the back. A moment later I saw the trail in the dew leading right to the hole. That was my second time to witness a hole in one. We play greenies are worth 25 cents, and birdies 50 cents. We decided to give 1.00 for the hole in one.

Have a Very Merry Christmas Everyone,