My long suffering golf partner Hywel Lloyd and I were invited to Pyrford (http://www.pyrfordgolf.co.uk/ in Surrey yesterday. The guy we were playing with, Paul Stewart, was an old friend and work colleague. However we hadn't spoken for about fifteen years until last year when Facebook and the Golf Monthly forum provided a chance encounter.
I have to say that I approached the day with trepidation given the changes in my swing that Paul Harrison had implemented the previous Monday (it's all there for you!) were still being worked on. A case of too much too soon really. Given that there is water featuring on seventeen of the Peter Alliss designed course it didn't bode well.
I have to say the course did look a picture as I drove in. The first is a dog leg left and measured 370 off the whites we were using. I hit a decent if unspectacular drive and pulled it a touch left to leave a second of about 160 yards. Picking a five iron I was trying to find the green and not leave it short in the hazard. I found my target and after nonchalantly rolling in a fifteen footer for birdie was feeling rather smug. I hooked my tee shot on the second and had a blind chip to the par 3. I hit a great recovery and just failed to make a streaky par.
The third is a dog leg right and only a short 315 yard par 4. I hit a great three wood with a hint of fade around the dogleg (ok the fade was unintentional) to leave a wedge in. Another par and level after three. I dropped a shot at the next courtesy of a fat approach. I then managed to lose a ball in some deep and menacing gorse thanks to a snap hook. I steadied the ship and parred the seventh and eighth before taking on their famous 592 yard ninth.
It curls around a lake so there is water always in play down the right and the approach is across the water. The green slopes from back to front and there is a deep bunker to catch anything underhit that manages to escape a watery grave. I hit a stunning tee shot and a nicely drawn hybrid left only a seven iron in. I thought I'd hit it great but it pitched about a foot short on the bank at the front of the green and rolled back down into the bunker. A dodgy escape left a tricky downhiller from about 30 feet with the sand beckoning anything running past the hole. However a superb lag left a simple tap in.
The tenth is a great par 3 across a lake and so not for the fainthearted. I'm not sure what happened and whether I sub-consciously lost my bottle but another hook sent another ball into a forest of gorse never to be seen again. I won some bouncebackability points with a solid par 4 at the long 457 yard eleventh thanks to a great chip and a single putt. However from there the wheels, the axle, and eventually even the exhaust fell off. As they were doing so though, Hywel who to this point had been having a very mixed time came back to life. The fifteenth is a short par four only measuring 308 yards and he had ripped a drive to leave a little flick with a wedge. Having carved my drive right I had to play blindly over some mounds. I hit my shot and was making my way back towards civilisation and missed him holing out for a spectacular eagle two.
My last three holes were a mess. I hit a ropey three wood at the sixteenth which just about stayed in bounds but my approach found a greenside bunker. Not a problem you would surmise. However as regulars will know I can conjour up disaster with ease. It's a gift really. A thinned bunker shot, through the green into the undergrowth and never found again. At the seventeenth which was only a simple par three of 150 yards I hit a horrible slice way right which found a pond protecting an adjacent hole. The last is a short par five of 485 yards with water down the right to start with and then a large lake running the length of the hole from around two hundred yards out and which cuts into the left hand side of the green. I hit a great drive. Position A. The plan was to hit a little hybrid down towards the hundred yard marker (maybe closer) and then onto the green and two putts for a triumphant par in front of the crowds on the patio. However the hybrid hadn't read the plan. I hit it great. High and drawing. Unfortunately it had started straight and drawn into the hazard. I took a drop and found a greenside bunker. I hit a good recovery and only just missed what would have been a decent bogey (if there is such a thing).
So all in all, a real Heinz of a round with all sorts. Given that the round was free I couldn't really have to many complaints. From a golfing perspective there was plenty to be pleased about in terms of the new swing working and my chipping and putting on very tricky and quick greens was very good. I think a lot of the issues late on were fatigue, poor concentration and poor execution.
On a personal front, it was great to see Paul again and reminisce although I think Hywel felt a bit of a gooseberry and it probably didn't help his game. I'm sorry for that mate. Still he's entertaining some of his university mates soon so I'll experience exactly the same thing. Pyrford is a very good course and is competitively priced. The greens in particular are excellent and it is good value for money.
I'm off online shopping for some new golf balls as supplies are running low.
Total number of lost balls in 2010 = 22