Monday, January 22, 2007

Soggy Conditions, Be a Picker…

Range Time...

Disclaimer: These are my thoughts about hitting off of matts at the driving range and playing in wet, soggy conditions. I may be completely wrong, I may not. Please comment based on your experiences.

It has been raining and raining (and raining) here in Houston. I actually went to the range in light rain. The range at Green Caye has a covered section where you can hit off matts, so I stayed pretty dry, but I don’t really care for hitting off the matts.

The danger (for me) in hitting off matts is that you generally can’t hit a shot fat. Then next time hitting off turf, it seems like all you do is hit fat shots. So, I really focused on picking the ball. As I was hitting, I was very aware of when I hit the matt before the ball. As I thought more about it, picking the ball is probably the best contact you can employ in wet, soggy conditions. So, my range time became all about careful ball contact. It paid off too, because I managed to squeeze a round in Sunday.

Working the Ball…

After a couple buckets of picking, I decided to work on working the ball. I’ve learned that the most efficient way to fine tune draws/fades is to start with a lot of spin. I start with the 7 iron and I close the face way down. It’s amazing how far you can hit a 7 iron when you close the face. Sure, you’re hitting a huge hook, but if you aim it correctly, you can really get some distance with a 7 iron. I hit a few balls adjusting my stance so that I’m landing the ball near my target zone. Then I start to open the face. I hit shots and note how far the ball goes (compared to a normal shot), and how open my stance needs to be. I hit like this, continuing to open the face until I’m hitting big slices. Then I do the same with the PW and the 4 iron.

Golf at Beacon Lakes…

I was running some errands Sunday and much to my surprise, I saw some breaks in the clouds to the north. Later in the morning, while checking my email, I saw that Beacon Lakes was running a 2 for 1 special to try to coax folks out onto the course. After a little bargaining with my Wife, I was set to play golf!

Beacon Lakes is a pretty tight course. The fairways are narrow and there is plenty of water and out-of-bounds. You have a choice to either play target golf or you can simply try to over power the course (or both). In the case of the latter, you simply drive for distance and, if you can keep it in bounds and out of the water, you will find your ball (possibly in another fairway, in trees, or bushes). This is my fourth time playing here. Charles and I played from the blues (6368 yds, 71.1/122) while Martin played from the Whites (5756 yds, 68.6/119).

I shot 94 (47/47) with one 9 on a par 5 that will be recorded as an 8 (ESC) making the round officially a 93 (46/47), Charles shot 95 (47/48) losing only one ball, and Martin had a bad day (101). Here are the stats on the round:

Fairways hit... 4
GIRs........... 6
Birdies........ 0
Pars........... 7
Putts......... 35
Bogeys......... 4
Doubles........ 4
Triples........ 3
Balls lost .... 6 (4 water, 2 OB)

I was late getting there and the guys were on the putting green. I rushed to get checked in and I was on the tee box within 5 minutes on arriving. Here’s the round recap:

1. Par 4 345 yds. Pushed 3i right. 8i barely fails to clear pine tree, ball veers right into the water. Chipped on in four, two-putt double.
2. Par 3 125 yds. Green, two-putt par.
3. Par 4 387 yds. Pulled driver left, onto adjacent fairway. Pushed 7i right. Flubbed chip. On in four, two-putt double.
4. Par 4 407 yds. Fairway, Green, two-putt par.
5. Par 5 533 yds. Push drive OB on right, Fade drive OB on right (barely), hammer drive down the middle. Layup to 125. On in 7, two-putt for a 9. –OUCH!!
6. Par 4 355 yds. 3i to right side of fwy. No line to the green. Strong fading 4i around the trees finds the green 15 feet from the pin, two-putt par.
7. Par 3 205 yds. 5W finds water in front of the green, skips onto the bank, rolls back in. Topped a pitch over the green. On in four, two-putt triple.
8. Par 5 476 yds. Going for the hammer - missed the nail, topped tee shot goes just past the senior tees. 7i, 7i, 9i finds the green. 25-foot putt drops for par!!
9. Par 4 337 yds. Fairway, Green, two-putt par.
10. Par 4 397 yds. Tee shot pushed right. No line to the green. Shot requires huge slice or draw over water. Slice route was open, but too much slice required. Tried to draw through and around trees. Ball flies around trees with too much draw and rolls in front of the green and back toward the water. Chip on, two-putt bogey.
11. Par 4 382 yds. Driver fades right. Lands on the face of a hill with a horrible lie about 125 out. 7i slammed into hill under ball pops the ball extremely high. Ball comes down short, threatens to roll back into bunker, but stops 1 inch short. Funky stance chip nearly hits the pin and rolls well past. two-putt bogey.
12. Slice drive onto adjacent fairway. 7i punch through trees back on to fairway. 8i fat into the water. PW on in 5, two-putt double.
13. Par 3 170 yds. 7i to the front of the green, three-putt bogey.
14. Par 4 395 yds. 3W fails to clear the corner. Ball drops amidst trees. No line to green. Strong fading 4i goes around trees and light pole, finds green 10 feet to the pin. Missed birdie, tap in par.
15. Par 3 135 yds. Easy 9i pushed into the water. Chip dies just short of the cup, tap in bogey.
16. Par 4 352 yds. Pulled drive into trees. Punch out onto fairway. 5W hits tree top and goes hard left into the water. On in 5, two-putt double.
17. Par 4 383 yds. Topped drive finds ditch. I play out of the ditch (lateral hazard). Layup to 125. On in 4, two-putt double.
18. Par 5 514 yds. Hammer a drive 285 down the middle, all carry. Layup to 125 is hit fat, I’m 155 out. 8i lands just short. Chip to 18 inches, putt for par.

By the time we were done, we were all pretty soaked from playing on a waterlogged course. Most of my fat shots came from the short irons. The way I was hitting the mid and long irons, I would have been better off playing to approach from 160-170. The driving range work paid off in both picking and working the ball. I would have had a stellar round had I been able to keep the ball in play. In any event, I won 13 skins for a total of $8.00 (50 cent skins when we play with Charles), $5.00 of which came from Charles.

Looks like the rains will return till the end of the week. I’m hoping to play Galveston Island Municipal (72.5/125) before it closes for a year to emerge as a resort course. I better bring a lot of balls because this course has more water than any other course I’ve played.

Enough with the rain already,


At 10:30 AM, Blogger Golfchick said...

Greg, you're such a trooper. First hitting bucket after bucket in the rain off the mats. I know I wouldn't do it.

Next, you really have surpassed my skill level. I can't work the ball that consistently. I'm still happy to hit clean shots and hit them straight. Well done.

I'll hope for some nice sunny weather for you!


At 3:17 PM, Blogger John B. said...

I hate hitting off of mats...I never get a lie anythinglike a mat on a real course.

Hit off mats for a while and you are guaranteed to hit shots fat or thin on a real course.


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