I managed to squeeze a mideweek medal in this week which is a bit of a rarity for me as work is usually calling. I was fortunate enough to join Martin Davis (aka Bash) and Brian Mason (aka Mace) as a roll up in pretty warm conditions.
I haven't played a lot of golf recently due to family committments and wasn't hitting it great on the practice ground so expectations were set at minimum. In fact I hadn't planned to play in the event at all and had only wandered up to the club to put some hard yards into finding out what was wrong with the swing. Still what was the worse that could happen apart from yet another 0.1 back on the handicap?
The opening drive wasn't exactly a confidence booster, going left and just missing the pond that seems to be a magnet to my ball these days. I managed to pitch on and make a nett par so no damage done. The thing with medal play is that it's a cross between walking on egg shells and russian roulette. You want to play properly, but you are also waiting for that one destructive shot to de-rail the whole round. Its a ticking timebomb.
Naturally enough my luck and poor striking caught up with me. I made a bad six at the par 4 7th trying to bite off too much with my second. However it was the par 3 eighth that really bit my rear end. My two partners played first and Bash hit it long and very left. Mace hit it short and into the bunker. I nonchalantly step onto the tee and said "not much to beat there" before hitting a semi-shank way right missing the green by a clear twenty yards. Note to self, keep your big mouth shut. I managed to play a good recovery from deep rough for a bogey.
The plan for the back nine was to try an play steady golf and aim for the buffer zone. I'd gone out one over my handicap but managed to claw that back at the 10th with a very solid par four. As I've written before I've perfected the art of gving shots back as soon as I reclaim them and did so at the 178 yard par 3 eleventh. I found the right hand bunker and proceeded to take no sand with the recovery and sent it way over the green. I chipped back and two putted for an ugly five. I gave another back at the next although to be fair I was a trifle unlucky to see my approach find the sand and when I got there I had to stand outside the hazard and somehow reach down to play the shot. Suffice to say it didn't go according to plan.
After that I put a decent run together, parring the next three holes. It should really have been four on the trot after a great drive down the sixteenth but an errant shot missed the green right. To be honest it went where I was aiming and so it was a basic alignment issue and not the shot. I managed a chip and putt to save par at the penultimate hole and so needed a par five at the last to break my handicap for the first time in ages.
I did the first bit right and found the fairway but it was a little too far left to be ideal and brought the big oak tree on that side into play. I needed to play around the branches to get as far down as I could to leave a shorter iron into the green and ideally take the pond to the right of the green out of play. I spoke about russian rouletter and my second shot found the bullet in the chamber. I made great contact but was aiming right to try and move it right to left in the air. Instead I hit it straight right deep, deep deep, into knee high rough. That was never going to be found and even if it had been I'd probably still be there now trying to hit it out.
I hit another and that too flirted with the long stuff but finished in the semi-rough. It left 124 yards to a back flag location into the wind. I now also had the pond to contend with and not the greatest lie. It came out wonderfully to about six feet. If I hadn't struck it well all day, this one shot made up for it all. I made the putt for battling bogey (nett par) and shot a level par 70.
In the end, that was good enough for a fourth place finish in division one which was my best result for ages. I was gutted I couldn't get a handicap cut but I was pleased with how I managed to get the ball round without ever feeling as though I was in total control. I must also mention the start of Bash's round. He rolled a 15 footer in at the first for a birdie and then at the par 4 fourth dunked his second straight in for an eagle. Two two's in the first four holes. He had a couple of bad holes on the back nine but still shot a creditable nett 69 (-1) but it looked like it could have been so much better after such an electrifying start.
All in all a very satisfying sojourn into midweek competitve play and hopefully thanks to the joys of NHS flexi time I may be able to get another round in before the clocks change. Here's to an even better round next time.