Its been a very busy weekend. I played 27 holes at Royal Ascot yesterday on the hottest day of the year. My regular mucker Hywel runs a small society made up of old university mates and they needed someone to make up the numbers so I was glad to help out. The format was individual stableford followed by a 9 hole scramble whereby everyone tees off, the best shot is selected and both play from there and repeat until you hole out.
As with most societies it was a mix of those that play a bit and a few who were clearly once a year golfers. From a personal perspective I treated it as a pressure free practice round. I actually hit the ball pretty well but unfortunately I missed too many greens and seemed to be playing my third shots on first five holes from sand. Naturally this made scoring difficult and with the putter being decidedly lukewarm I struggled on the front nine.
The back nine continued in the same vein until I duck hooked my tee shot on the 14th and lost my ball. It seemed to knock my confidence and although I made par at the next and hit a good drive down the 16th I took on a risky shot from over 200 yards which didn't come off and resulted in another lost ball. I sort of lost interest after that and felling decidedly roasted from the sun was glad to get back to the sanctuary of the clubhouse for a cool drink and some food. In the end I managed 33 points to finish third overall. I hit 50% of fairways which on recent form was a marked improvement. Although I didn't three putt I still had 35 putts which was disappointing and only managed 11% of greens in regulation which was poor in anyones language. It was more frustrating as the approaches were well struck but either pushed or pulled.
I didn't really have the energy of the enthusiasm for the scramble even off the yellows. I started well with a tee shot to the heart of the green at the first, and three good shots to hit the second in regulation and made a par. I hit a superb drive down the third but found a bunker well out of range normally from the whites and we dropped a shot. We dropped another at the fourth (I can't even par it in a scramble!) and then made a single putt par at the next. We both missed the green at the par 3 6th (cardinal error) and went to +3 gross. I hit the green in two and we made par at the 7th and I hit the green at 8 for par. I hit a great drive down the last and found the green and so we finished +3 gross. However we got pipped on countback as Hywel and his partner also finished on the same score but had a birdie down the last hole. All in all it was a great afternoon. Everyone got very red (despite the suncream) and a few of the guys lost a lot of golf balls but they all seemed to like the course and enjoyed their day.
I went to the range this morning as it was the club foursomes at Royal Ascot (I hate that format) and so I couldn't get on even if I'd wanted a game. I was given some advice from one of the guys I played with on Friday and was keen to try it out. I have to say, it is surprising how a little thing can make a big difference. I wanted to make a turn and feel as though my left shoulder was dropping and pointing to the ball and that the right hip turned behind me. From that position it was very easy to rotate back and through and the ball striking and direction was much improved.
I got very hot in the blazing late morning sun and so got very tired. As I did I got more and more lazy with my swing and so a lot of old habits and in particular lateral hip sliding back and through reappeared with worrying ease. Still all in all a very good session and plenty to take out onto the course after work this week.
I went straight from the range to Maidenhead Golf Club for a lesson with my usual swing coach Grant Sayer. As it was beautiful day and ideal beach weather I thought it only right and proper to spend some time in sand. Bunkers had become an enigma to me and so it was a timely lesson. In a nutshell, the ball position had crept way too far forward and the set up was a little awry. After a few tweaks I was hitting it great. However after a bite of lunch, a siesta and watching a bit of the golf on TV I went to Ascot to work on it. It was nothing like the bunker lesson and I was back to square one. I'm not sure if it was the heat, too much golf or what but it wasn't good and is still very much a work in progress. I'll work on it later in the week and be on the phone to Grant if it's still Pete Tong.
The weather is set fair until midweek so I'm intending to go out now and play, play, play. I feel I'm tantalisingly close to it all coming together and hope that by getting out and playing rather than tweaking and refining I'll play myself into some form for the Stone Cup (two rounds of stableford over any three of the bank holiday weekend).
After all that playing and practice I need a lie down and some aftersun spray.
Total number of lost balls in 2010 = 24