Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Monty and Progress

I'm off to Silvermere Golf Club in Cobham tomorrow to watch Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomery give a clinic. Having digested his recent wildcard picks and rumours regarding his personal life the braveheart inside me is tempted to ask him about both. The pragmatic in me recognises that an ejection by security will not be pretty and it's probably wiser to keep my counsel.

I have to say I agree with two of his picks in Molinari and Harrington. I think Molinari was always going to get in after his performance in Scotland over the weekend. Harrington despite a modest (shocking actually) record in the Ryder Cup is still a master of the short game. Given that it's matchplay and so he can afford to have the odd bad hole I think he'll get right under the Americans skin with his gritty perseverance. For the other pick, I'd have taken Justin Rose, a two time winner in America this year and in my mind a perfect foil for Ian Poulter. I'm not sure of the schedule tomorrow and whether it is a full clinic, short game session or an instructional clinic for the Yonex competition winners. Either way I'm sure it'll be interesting. It usually is when Monty is around. Mind you I'll be having words. There I was on Sunday, mobile switched on and waiting, the home phone plugged in and the PC ready to receive e-mails. Everything was set. Did he call? Did he offer me a wildcard based on my fighting round on Sunday morning. No. Spurned again!

I was out on the practice ground tonight working on my pitching, bunker play and chipping. I had a bit of a lightbulb moment after watching an old Golf Monthly instructional CD and have recognised a few basic errors creeping back into the chipping in particular. The section on bunker play has also helped and I was starting to see some real progress. I have been chipping a little better of late but there are still the odd fat, chunky duff or the thinned scuttler through the green lurking in there. It is all a bit nervy still especially in a competition and nothing feels natural and flowing.

I'm off for lunch with the wife tomorrow but think I'll try and sneak a cheeky range session in tomorrow morning just to keep the long game going as it was much improved on Sunday. Then it's just a slow drive back down the A3 to watch Monty do his thing. Life in Homer's golfing world is pretty good right now.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Sunshine After Rain

I played in one of our main honours board events this weekend, the Longhurst Cup. It use to be a stableford event, at least it was in 2000 when yours truly had a blistering two rounds to scoop the cup and the kudos. It's now a medal and you can play two rounds on any of the three days of the long weekend.

Let me summarise my performance on Saturday by saying my involvement in the 2010 event lasted until the 13th hole where I lost a ball and frustration and disappointment crashed over me in a wave of sufferance. Enough was enough and I was already playing terribly and struggling and put my first no return in for a very long time. I hate doing that and prefer to struggle to the bitter end but my game was so bad and more than any golfer should take. If it had been a boxing match the ref would have stepped in to save me from further punishment.

It had started badly. A good opening drive and chip onto the first was marred by three putts and that really set the tone. Good play ruined by too many mistakes. I lost a ball at the 2nd with one of the poorest swings I'd made all season. Another double to match the opening one. I tried, as I'd promised at the start of this odyssey, to grind a score and was only three over my handicap at the turn. However a rubbish drive card into thick jungle resulted in a lost ball and a treble bogey and to be honest my head was away in the clouds and I lost interest. The lost ball at 13 was the icing in the cake and I no returned and ruled out any chance of winning. The remaining holes, free from the shackles of a medal round were no better and another wayward drive out of bounds at the last set the seal on a miserable day.

I'd played with two great guys, Colin and "Bash" and both did really well to keep their cards ticking over and finished with nett 71's (+1). You can't win these events after one round but like me you can throw them away. Colin in particular was going great guns and was out in 39. He had one bad hole at 16 after we had to wait for a fourball who looked like they were there for the duration. He got frustrated and carved one away right.

We reconvened yesterday morning. The weather was much harder with a strong gusty breeze blowing making scoring much harder. I had gotten there early and hit the practice ground and had at least discovered a little bit of timing and so opted to put a card in, in the vain hope of a handicap cut.

I played much better and the ball striking was so much crisper. I did chuck an early double bogey into proceedings at the 3rd but I'm blaming the bunker. I did everything you are suppose to do to hit a hit bunker shot except there was no sand under the ball. The club skidded and the ball limped out and short of the green. I rectified matters with a great up and down at the fifth from a bunker having short sided myself and chipped and putted to save par at the next two holes as well.

Some of you will recall I hate par 3's and said as much recently. Another double at the poxy short 8th didn't help but I was out bang on my handicap. When I made par at the 10th with another chip and putt I sensed for a fleeting moment that I could shoot low in trying conditions. That idea lasted until I thinned a chip through the green at the par 3 13th (nothing like a consistent short game) for another double. I dropped another at the 15th but made a superb par at the 16th with a laser like hybrid to the heart of the green. However yet another double on a par 3 killed me at the 17th. I really hate par 3's now.

I finished with a 73 (+3) and so can't be too unhappy. Too many poor shots and bad decisions on which club to take were to blame. Sadly neither Colin or Bash could match their first round efforts. Colin was hamstrung by the 4th where he played the wrong ball in error and ended up with a triple bogey after two penalty shots. To be fair he never got going. Bash was his normal up and down self but was stringing some good scores in patches but would then throw in a bad hole to knock himself back. I think he must have been learning at the feet of Homer.

I think we'll put Saturday down to a bad day, lack of warm up and one of those things. Yesterday showed what a difference a day can make and how frustrating this game and the pursuit of a good score can be. There will always be sunshine after the rain.

I'm not sure what to do today. I don't fancy a round as it's still very windy. I can't see much value in hitting balls at the range for the same reason and haven't got the inclination to work on the short game. However the wife is making noises about going to the shops and garden centres and so I can feel some form of golfing therapy coming on.

Total number of lost balls in 2010 = 59

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Ping Demo Day

Went to a Ping demo yesterday at Sand Martins Golf Club. They had the new range of clubs including the K15 woods and irons, the S56's and the tour W and S wedges as well as I and G15 woods and irons.

I tried everything as is my way and these are my thoughts.

S56 Irons. These are a wonderfully compact head and thin top line.  Although aimed at lower handicappers and pros, these were still pretty forgiving on mishit shots. They only had a stiff shaft and I did find them much heavier than my TP's but they produced a great penetrating flight. A great club if you are good enough but not a viable option for me, certainly with a stiff shaft. If I can get a go with a regular shaft then maybe, just maybe it could be for me

S56 wedge. Another classy shape and as usual with Ping a myriad of loft and bounce options available. I tried a 52 and 58 which match what I have in my own set up. Like the irons I found the wedges too heavy for my liking. A lovely buttery soft feel though but again not a club I'd be consistent with.

Tour W wedge. A slightly lighter feeling club and one I felt more comfy with. A classic shape I could get the ball to check or run out with ease and as good if not better than my TP Z's.

I15 irons. I've had my eyes on these for a while. A chunky club in comparison with the sleek S56. I was set for regular steel shaft with no adjustment +/- in lie angle. I love this club. Very forgiving and in my opinion suitable for anyone from single figures through to mid-teens. It is very easy to hit and doesn't overly punish mishits. Using the Trackman monitor I was hitting the 7 iron 139 yards (landing distance) in a wind blowing slightly into and left to right.

K15 Driver. Designed by Ping to appeal to higher handicappers, this has to be the easiest driver to hit I've ever used. You need to get over the look as the head seems massive behind the ball and it does make a metallic sound . Get past that and you're laughing. It was so easy to hit. Very light compared to Ping drivers of old and if you are struggling with the big dog you must try this out.

K15 irons. Again looking to appeal to higher handicappers and those needing maximum forgiveness these are big chunky irons with a large cavity and the 4 and 5 irons are replaced by hybrids. I hit a standard 7 iron and like the K15 driver it was so easy to hit. The ball flight was way too high for me but again if you need a club to get the ball up and with maximum playability these are for you.

I15 Driver. I was given a 9.5 regular to try. I was a tad nervous as I rarely use anything other than 10.5. It has a very compact head which sits behind the ball beautifully. It is also surprisingly easy to hit. I was hitting 229 yards through the air according to the Trackman launch monitor and hit them very well with a good dispersion. As time was tight (I sneaked on the monitor between appointments) I couldn't tweak the set up to find the optimum for me but I'll definitely be looking to hit it again.

G15 Driver. I really wanted this to be the one. I was getting more distance than the I15 and was up to 235 yards carry but I found it harder to control. Again it might be down to hitting just the standard model and the set up needs tweaking but I actually found it harder to hit than the I15. It has a lovely look to it though and sits great at address.

G15 3/4 woods. Ping are starting to do 4 woods. The theory being that the gap between most 3 and 5 woods in loft is small (standard is 15 for a 3 and 18 or 19 for the 5) and so the 4 wood at 17 allows you to take extra clubs out and give you more versatility. I hit it like a dream both off the tee and the grass. It didn't seem to lose more than about 10 yards on my normal 3 wood and I was getting about the same further than my 5 wood would give me. Definitely an option worth considering. Like the G15 driver I struggled with the 3 wood in terms of control and accuracy and I didn't get on with it. It does sit well behind the ball though and so if you are hunting for a 3 (or 4 wood) then it will be a sound investment for most golfers.

All in all, I think Ping are making some great strides forward. They have always seemed a marmite brand. Lots of people are put off by the chunky look of the irons in particular but the I15 and the S56 go a long way to changing that. Granted the G15 irons look unmistakeably Ping without even having to look at the badge on the back but they too are a very easy to hit club and would suit a vast array of club golfers. In terms of drivers, the I15 in particular was a revelation. Would I buy one? At the moment no purely because my trusty Taylormade Tour Burner is behaving but if I ever need to look for a new driver this would be top of my list.

Getting Closer

Rant Alert. I've got the hump. Finished 4th in the stableford yesterday and another one that got away. I scored 36 points which included not scoring at the par 3 sixth hole, four single point holes and three putting the last green from ten feet to drop another shot. There was a 40 point total there for the taking.

Now that I've got that off my chest I can focus on the positives. Another bad opening hole saw me take five for a double bogey and only one point. I hit it right again as I'd done in the match versus Maidenhead last Sunday but at least I had a shot this time. I just played it badly. Still the bouncebackability factor was off the scale as I stormed back with a great drive down the 2nd, excellent lay up and a perfect 52 degree wedge to eight feet and holed the putt for a birdie.

I actually struck the ball pretty solidly all day except for one poor tee shot at the sixth which went right, hit a tree and came out onto the edge of a ditch. I got it towards the edge of the green but took three to get down and didn't score any points. Again I cam back with a great chip and putt from the back of the seventh to make a par. I played the front nine in six over gross and that included three double bogies!!!

The back nine was another story of good ball striking but being unable to convert it into a score. I missed the tenth green left and the eleventh right. I hit a great drive at the twelfth to set up a par and then missed the par three thirteenth to drop a shot. I saved my best tee shot for the sixteenth which regular followers will know is a tight tee shot and along 425 yard par four. I hit a perfect drive with a hint of draw way down there. The yardage was 137 yards to the front downwind and I was tempted to take a 9 iron but was concerned it wouldn't get there so I took a 3/4 swing with an 8 but it was too long. I even managed to hit the back of the seventeenth for the first time in ages but them tamely took three putts from the fringe of the green.

Standing on the eighteenth I knew a par would see me play under my handicap and post 37 points which I thought wouldn't be enough to win but might sneak a top three finish. Another great drive found the fairway and the 5 wood second left a great yardage into the flag. I hit my 52 degree wedge great and was only ten feet away. A birdie would put me right in the hunt. It was downhill, right to left and  never gave it a chance to drop. It was pacy too and I left a four footer back which I missed with ease. Why is it a bogey at the last always feels so frustrating.

At the end of the day I can't be too downhearted. After getting into positions to challenge over the last few weeks coupled with some appalling golf as well it was pleasing to hold it together for the full round. I'm pleased that some of the work I've been putting in is paying off.

It's definitely a glass half full kind of round.

Total number of lost balls in 2010 = 56

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Oh No, Oh Yes and Oh Dear

Played in the club match on Sunday and was partnered with a guy called Ken Martin. We go back to the days when the club was in the middle of Ascot racecourse and usually play well as a pair. We were drawn against a six handicapper and a guy off thirteen.

I have to say expectations weren't high especially from my own quarter. I'd been down to Sand Martins in the morning to brush up on bunker play, chipping and to hit a few balls after the mediocre range session on Saturday morning. It couldn't have gone much worse and there was no timing, consistency and even the dreaded shanks started to put in an unwelcome re-appearance. I wandered home for some lunch and then up to Royal Ascot in a worried state.

This was compounded when I headed onto the practice ground for a few looseners. The dreaded shanks had returned with avengance. What is it about Maidenhead that contrives to bring this destructive shot to the fore. It happened when Hywel Lloyd and I had our Volvo Matchplay game there (see my post - More Depressed Than a French Footballer) and was here again. I tried hard to focus on what I had gone through with Steve Cox at Sand Martins about posture and turning and managed to get a few going forward but not exactly well struck. The thing with the shanks is that it's Russian Roulette and you never know when the next one is coming.

The Maidenhead pair went first and no surprise that the six handicapper found the green. For my part I hit the first shot pretty well given the carnage that had gone on before but it was pushed right towards the trees and came to rest close to a trunk with no shot to the green. One down.

I made a huge fifteen footer at the second which was enough for a half in a bogey at the next although I had taken two out of a bunker (AGAIN) and so had been favourite to win.  My partner came charging in for a half at the third and I made a good par at the 4th although standing there with just a wedge in my hand I was conscious of hitting a shank and had to really focus. It was all friendly stuff from there on in although I did enjoy hitting the green at the ninth in two from 200 yards with my hybrid. The swing on the front nine had held up well and I was out just a couple over my handicap thanks largely to my opening drive, a three putt on the 6th and missing the green on the 8th.

We started the second nine as we had the first by losing the hole. I had a nightmare. I was in the greenside bunker for two and somehow managed to contrive and have a double hit. I thought I'd played the shot well but the club hit the ball again on the follow through. Not done that before!!!!

I made a great four footer on the next and on the twelfth I got away with murder on the drive. It was playing into the wind and I hit a bit of a sliced shot which was heading for the line of trees protecting the fairway. Somehow it managed to get through and I had a shot to the green which I found with my trusty hybrid. To be honest I thought I'd sneaked a birdie but it veered away at the death.

Both Ken and I made a mess of the 14th. I hit a rubbish drive and put my second into the ferns and unplayable so dropped out under penalty but then hit a crap chip. We salvaged a half at both 15 and 16 but I missed the green right at the 17th and Ken went out of bounds. I managed to get a bogey four but both the Maidenhead pair matched it and so it was all over. It made my carved tee shot out of bounds at the last an irrelevance but I was bloody annoyed. Truth be told it was a tired old swing.

The club lost the match 3-2 overall but I have to say I was relieved that I'd played so well, at least in relative terms. I'm not happy with the swing and so there is much work to do revisiting posture and balance before the stableford on Saturday. Given how bad it could have been I'll take it.

Total number of lost balls in 2010 = 56

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Consistancy - Surely Not

Played with my mate Paul Sweetman (Budely) yesterday. He sadly lost his job earlier in the year and so is on a restricted membership which lets him play so many times per year for a reduced fee so he can keep the membership going. Quite a decent scheme on behalf of the club in these difficult times.

He hadn't played for a few weeks and so he didn't have the best of days although his back nine was much better than the front. I actually played pretty well and managed 32 points (not earth shattering) and was 16 points both sides. I hit the ball pretty well for me except for a poor drive and a lost ball at the 3rd and a hooked drive AGAIN at the 16th. The 16th hole was pretty frustrating as I even took the 3 wood out as I should have done in the last medal. Maybe I need to have another think about my strategy. My bad shot is normally right to left towards the out of bounds and I can't move the ball (fade or slice) the other way. Problems, problems. Bunkers were a menace again with a duffed escape costing a shot at the 9th. However the driver behaved and I didn't three putt.

I've been selected for the club match on Sunday against Maidenhead. These are friendly affairs although the matches themselves tend to be quite competitive and to be honest we are usually looking for numbers so it's unlikely I've been selected on recent form and more the fact that I put my name down. Still a match is a match and the weather looks better tomorrow. I went to the range this morning but didn't hit it great. I couldn't get into it with the rain coming into the bay making it uncomfortable.

As we're coming towards the end of the summer golf and the nights are beginning to draw in again I thought I'd share my statistics since June. As followers will know, its been a couple of months mixed with some good ball striking, some terrible golf, missed opportunities and close shaves.

Key stats for Martin Bedborough (Hcap: 12)

Fairways Hit: 39% (Hcap Std: 17)
Greens In Reg: 27% (Hcap Std: 11)
Putts Per Round: 33.11 (Hcap Std: 15)
Sand Saves: 13% (Hcap Std: 13)
Birdie Conversion: 13% (Hcap Std: 16)
Par Scrambles: 17% (Hcap Std: 18)
Penalties Per Round: 0.84 (Hcap Std: 9)

Rounds Recorded: 19
Date Range: 01/06/2010 to 14/08/2010
Produced by Scoresaver 2. www.scoresaver.co.uk

All in all I am not quite performing to my handicap standard in any department and I'm frustrated with the lack of success around the greens from bunkers and scrambling given the amount of work I've invested into practicing these areas. However the overall picture is pretty consistent and I feel the driving in particular has turned a corner so if I start hitting more fairways, then greens in regulation, birdie conversion and putts should all improve.

Lets hope it can start tomorrow and I can play well in my match. If not I hope I get a strong partner who'll be able to carry me for 18 holes. We'll see.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Lost in Transit

I've got a few days off work. Decided to wander down to Maidenhead Golf Centre yesterday morning and work on the swing. As usual, I'm suffering from a lack of consistency and its killing my game, particularly in competitions.

It was nice and quiet when I got there which is how I like it. Nothing like trying to concentrate on improving with loads of kids running about and smashing balls left right and centre. Fortunately in the main, this range is pretty good. It's tucked out of the way and so the majority are there because they want to practice and not play the fool. I started out assuming it would be the usual mis-mash of good and bad shots but as I began working through the bag from the wedges up I was actually swinging surprisingly well. It even carried through to the driver which has been a nemesis in recent weeks.

I hadn't planned to play but decided to have some lunch and wander up to the club and play a few holes. It was packed for a Wednesday afternoon. Doesn't anyone work anymore? I was approached by a guy looking for a game and so we paired up. He's Ian Jolley who told me he was off 18 and had played the back nine already and got 22 points. Mmmmm sounds like a bandit.

We decided to have a little match off the whites and I gave him 4 shots which in hindsight should have been the full difference of 6. DOH! He said he was having trouble with a bad slice but an opening tee shot into the right hand greenside bunker foretold what was to come and no surprise I was one down.

The problem I was having was that my swing from the morning range session had obviously got lost in transit as the one I had on course bore no resemblance. The frustrating thing was that I'd have one good drive or iron shot and then hit an awful one with no warning. There was just no consistency. In the end my erratic game was no match for Ian's regularity in finding fairways and greens. This so called slice was more of a fade and he had a pretty solid short game which made him hard to catch once he had his nose in front. In the end he did me 4&3 and deservedly so.

It is a continuing story of practicing well and not bringing it to the course. Now this has lapsed into my social golf is a major concern. I've got a game with my old mate Paul Sweetman (Budely to his friends) tomorrow although the forecast is iffy. I'm hoping in the relaxed company I can knock it round and find some kind of spark.

I live in hope more than expectation

Total number of lost balls in 2010 = 55

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Still Troubled

I had a few domestic issues to sort out this morning so missed out on my game with my old Ascot mate Paul Sweetman (Budeley to his friends) which was a shame as he's on limited playing rights at the course this year and we always have a good laugh when we play. Cest la vie.

However I was able to sort out my problems in time to wander over to Sand Martins and use their range and short game area. Despite my decent round (well for fourteen holes anyway) yesterday I never really struck the ball well. I was hoping it was down to not practicing last week and that a couple of hours working on the swing would have it clicking into place. Sadly not and whilst a lot of shots were good or acceptable there were still far too many that weren't and none seemed to be the same mistake repeated twice.

On the plus side, I did spend a good forty five minutes or so working on the bunker play. I switched back to my old 56 degree wedge which is a sand wedge in everything but name. I played around with my set up and think I've found something that seems to be working consistently. I'll try it out up at Royal Ascot in the week but will probably drop the 58 degree wedge for a while.

The other good thing about visiting Sand Martins were that my new Footjoy shoes were in. Check out these bad boys coming to a course near you.


I can't wait to break them in on Wednesday and might give them a run out at the weekend. They were certainly getting a positive response from the Sand Martins members as I tried them on. Homer is becoming a fashion guru.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Todays Lesson

The next lesson in our continuing series "How to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory" comes fresh from the monthly medal this morning. It's a tale of inspirational play, dogged determination, terrible tee shots and bunker catastrophe.

In my defence I was only a reserve for the morning drawn part of the competition and haven't actually been out and hit a ball since the Club Championship fiasco last Saturday so to say I came in unprepared would be an understatement. An hour on the practice ground this morning hadn't unlocked an magic key to a great swing. Determined to take it as it came and not worry about a score I was therefore stunned when the opening drive found its target 229 yards away and I made a solid par start. Instantly three shots better off than last week. Par at the 2nd was followed by an agonising lip out for par at the third with the ball doing a full lap of the hole before being spat out the front and sitting there mocking me. I had a horrid three putt at the 4th but was still one under my handicap and all seemed surprisingly good.

The ball striking on these opening holes hadn't been great and I was having trouble getting it in the air but I was scoring so I guess that is all that mattered. On the 5th I hit two good shots and stood over my approach with 98 to the green and hit a low thinned wedge into the long rough and cunningly placed a bunker between myself and the flag and to a green that sloped away. It was more in hope than conviction that I hit my 58 degree wedge but the ball popped out landed softly and stopped less than a foot away for a simple par. I continued to make solid progress until the 8th. This hole was one of many par three disasters last week. I hit another bad tee shot into a right hand bunker and the ball was at the back on a downhill lie with back edge interfering. I actually played a great shot and it was a fraction too soft and caught the top of bunker and fell back in. To my credit I put the next to four feet and holed out.

By the time I reached half-time I had gone out in one under my handicap. Happy days. Things were even rosier chez Homer after a great par at the 12th where I hit a perfect hybrid into the green. The 20 foot downhill, right to left putt looked in until six inches from the hole where it veered away. I then hit the shot of the day off the tee at the par 3 thirteenth to about eight feet and converted the putt for birdie. I then chipped and putted for par and with four holes left I was in position A1.

The lesson today is to keep your mouth shut and not to count any chickens. I hooked my drive at the par 5 fifteenth but had plenty of room and no pressure. One of the group playing the fourteenth where I was standing made some passing comment and I told him I was actually doing ok. Kiss of death. I topped the second and my approach to the green found a bunker. I took two to get out and walked off with a double bogey.

Last year I played two medal competitions (one midweek and one the following Sunday). In both I had stood on the 16th tee six over par gross and promptly finished 6, 6, 6 (double bogey, treble, single). Even with my mini disaster I was still only eight over and looking for a handicap cut. Call it pressure, or a mental aberration but I promptly hit my tee shot out of bounds left. The next tee shot got the full treatment and went sailing miles down the fairway. I made a par with the second ball but it cost me another double. Still not to worry I could afford to take a bogey at the last two holes and still play to my handicap.

If you are easily frightened please stop reading now. It is not pretty. I hit a stonking bad shot way right at the 17th. It was so bad it had cleared all the rubbish and was sitting in the open. I had 76 yards to the flag. My 52 degree wedge would have been too much so I opted for the 58. Big mistake as it found the bunker. I underhit the first shot and the ball plopped forward a few inches and was still in the trap. I did the same again, and again. It was still in the bloody sand and had now landed in one of my footprints. Two more attempts and I just got it out and then chipped on. Left with a fifteen foot putt I was facing double figures. The shame. Somehow and almost inevitable I holed the putt for a 9!!!!!!!! On a bloody par 3. I said last week I hated them and I still do.

I had lost the plot by the time I played 18 and the double bogey seemed a just way to finish. When the maths were done I had shot nett 76 (+6) and had dropped twelve shots to par on the last four holes. If I'd even played each of them in one over I'd have been writing about a sub-par round, prospective top three finish and a handicap cut. As always in this journey I'm not.

I wrote a short while ago about how my playing partners always seem inspired with me marking their card. Today I played with one of the club's characters Mick Mills who was actually conservatively dressed (he of the very loud shirts and trousers) and a wily old golfer Jim Rackley. I'd never had the pleasure before but he was Mr Consistancy and had he chipped a bit better would have had a fantastic round. As it was Mick shot a nett 68 (-2) and Jim finished level par. It would seem that Mick will have a shout in his division and my luck continues to rub off.

If only I could keep some of it for myself.

Total number of lost balls in 2010 = 54

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Club Chump

It was the first round of the Club Championship yesterday with the top 32 nett scores surviving a halfway cut and playing a second round today. Although I had no pretence to be good enough to win the Championship itself (scratch prize) I was keen to make the cut. I'd been striking the ball great especially at the range on Wednesday night although my practice round on Friday wasn't as good as I'd hoped. Still yesterday was another day.

Let me start by saying I hate par 3's. Nasty silly holes that make no sense to me. OK I'm probably biased. I failed to make the cut shooting a miserable 90 (nett 78) to miss out by three shots. However the story of this disaster is the six par 3's on the course which I managed to play in a staggering eleven (yes ELEVEN) over par alone. Add in a double bogey down the 7th having hooked my drive into a bunker guarding the third fairway and that was more than my handicap allowance spent in seven holes.

You'd think I hacked it round but the truth is a little different. Granted a triple bogey at the first thanks to a duffed bunker shot and three putts wasn't how I planned it but a solid par at the 2nd and a five (nett par) which should have been better but for a putt that lipped out and things were going reasonably well. I parred the 4th thanks to a chip and putt and got another nett par at the 5th. Standing on the par 3 sixth I was ticking along. However a hooked drive out of bounds meant I had to play three of the tee and I duly missed my target left. I duffed a tee shot but then sunk an outrageous twenty foot par to limit the damage.

As I mentioned the tee shot at the next found huge trouble and I could only play out of the bunker on the third fairway and faced an all or nothing shot over the environmental area which I cleared but missed the green to the right and finished on a bare lie with a bunker to go over. No prizes for guessing where the next shot finished. I played out of the bunker and thinned it over the green. A chip back and another single putt for a triple bogey.

By now my head was shot. My tee shot at the shortest hole on the course missed right by at least thirty yards into thick grass. I hacked out into a bunker and got out and two putted. I did manage to par the ninth though with another monster putt but went out in 47 (12 over par and all my shots gone).

I decided that I'd throw caution to the wind and just attack everything on the second half. I hit a great drive down 10 but missed the green and made five. I hit a solid shot at the par 3 11th but it was right of target. If it wasn't for my bad luck I wouldn't have had any luck at all. It landed on the footbridge and my only place to drop was thick rough or play it off the stones and concrete. I dropped it, got it on the green and proceeded to three putt.  I did manage to single bogey the par 3 12th having missed the green left. I parred the next few and made a good five (nett par) down the 16th thanks in main to a brave five wood from the right hand rough under a tree, clearing the bunker some 170 yards away and running just through the green.

On the par 3 17th (218 yards) I actually hit a good tee shot to the fringe of the green. I then decided to chip when a putt would have done and put it to the back of the green where I took another 3 putts. I did finish in a bit of style with my best drive of the day down the last, a good five wood and a solid wedge into the green for a par.

The question is what next. I've tried working on my game and can hit the ball great in practice but can't take the form onto the course. Have I practiced too much or not enough? Why can't I play par 3's? I know the ones at Royal Ascot are hard and they are relatively long but I seem to be making a pigs ear of them all of the time competitively. Is it a mental problem now?

I took today off and didn't play or practice at all. There is a medal next week and I'm tempted to leave the clubs at home all week and rock up next Saturday and just go out and see what happens. However the golfing voice in my head is telling me to play a few holes and play my way into form. I'm not sure what to do but suffice to say single figures is looking further away than ever. I guess the only redeeming positive is that apart from the par 3's and my adventures down the 7th I was pretty solid for the other holes so we know it's in there somewhere.

I'll bounce back stronger and hungrier. This season and the journey itself isn't over yet.

Total number of lost balls in 2010 = 54