Saturday, 2 July 2011

Turned It On (For Once)

I played in a club match today against Oxford City Golf Club. These matches are friendly affairs although there was a shield to be contested for, and are four ball better ball format. I was fortunate to be partnered with Michael Winn who was Club Captain when I joined and at 79 years young still plays of a competitive 14 handicap. I've known Mike for many years now and he's always a reliable partner. Our opponents were off 10 and 14 respectively

Oxford City Golf Club Logo
I'm getting a bit of a reputation as a burden for my partners to carry. Let today put a stop to that. I was out of the traps like a greyhound. I pitched to eight feet at the first (okay the tee shot hadn't been great) and made par to win the hole. A solid par was enough to win the next and I then holed from six feet at the third for another par which was enough to win that hole. I hit a great three wood down the 320 yard fourth and hit a perfect gap wedge from 88 yards to within four feet and converted the birdie to put Mike and I four up after four. I was one under par gross. Yes really!

I had a bit of bunker trouble at the 5th and gifted our opponents the hole and when one of them holed out from the bunker on the sixth for a birdie the deficit was halved. My partner hadn't really sprung to life yet, nor really needed to, but when the Oxford City pair both missed the green at the short par 3 eighth and Mike found the dance floor it seemed we'd stop the rot. However, they managed to get up and down to save par and Mike somehow concocted a way to three putt from fifteen feet and the gap was down to one. I made a bit of a hash of the ninth hitting the right hand bunker with my approach and then sending the recovery through the green and so a four up lead was back to all square.

I had been hitting it really well but as usual finding ways of making unforced errors. I three putted the tenth having hit the fairway and green in regulation but fortunately my partner secured a par and a win to restore our advantage. I hit a decent four iron into the heart of the par three eleventh for a par and another win and suddenly there was daylight again. Mike rolled in an obscenely long putt at the twelfth for a par nett birdie which was good enough for a third straight win. Back to three up.

I missed the green right on the thirteenth and both our opponents hit the target. Mike hit an average chip and I put mine to about six feet. They both converted for pars but I hit my right to left uphiller firm and true to maintain the advantage. I've whined on here at times about not getting the breaks I thought I deserved for the quality of my ball striking. Today I take it back. I hit a wild tee shot at the fourteenth. In truth I was trying to give it the kitchen sink treatment and blocked it well right. When I got there it was perched prettily on the edge of the thirteenth tee box with a clear line to the green. I pulled out my 3 hybrid and nailed it onto the green and to about twenty foot. Two solid putts for a par and we were dormie four up.

The fifteenth is a shortish par five of 478 yards and in the end I played it conservatively and made the par which halved the hole but secured the win. We played out the remainder of the round though and I continued to play well. I hit a good drive down sixteen and put a five iron on the green to make a safe par. I parred the seventeenth too thanks to a great sand save. Having found the left hand trap I popped it out to five feet and made the putt. At this stage I was only two over par gross for the eight holes on the back nine. This doesn't happen to me. This blog has been littered with tales of woe, not simple, uncomplicated wins and decent scores. In truth Mike and I gelled great as a pair and although our opponents played well to get it back to level at the turn, there was little they could do on the back nine.

However just to ensure you've logged onto the right blog and not one from a real golfer, I managed to save the worse shot of the day for the tee shot at the last hooking it left into the rough. Having chopped out and hit a five wood up the hole I'm left with 139 yards to the green with a pond right of the green. I then deliver arguably the second worse shot of the day and stuck it in the pond. After a penalty drop a pitch on and two putts it was an ugly snowman (8) and a triple bogey to finish. I managed to shoot the equivalent of 36 points and didn't score on three holes and so there is so much to be happy about.

In the end Royal Ascot beat Oxford City 3-2 to retain the shield. The fixture was great fun and I really hope I can go to the return match. At present it is held home and away in alternative years but I think plans are afoot to make it a home and away match each year and use the combined match scores to decide the destination of the shield.

It's the monthly stableford tomorrow. At the moment I'm sitting here feeling the effects of the sun and rather burned and not feeling completely hunky dory. That aside I'd like to feel cautiously optimistic about finally returning a good competitive score but we've been down that road before and had our fingers burned. I'll go out trying to shoot a good score and know that the swing is in there and in patches working quite nicely thank you. It is these silly mistakes that I need to cut out. My latest piece de resistance is not taking any sand with bunker shots and thinning it over the green. I managed to hone that particular shot well at Blackmoor on Monday but took it to new heights today. I managed it on the fifth and the ninth and add in a double hit with my attempted chip onto the eighth green and trouble is never far away.

That said, aside from a personal best a few weeks back and a great round the next time out after that, it has been a long time since I managed such a great opening to a round or strung such a solid run of pars together as I did on the back nine. In places I really turned it on today. It's all about going out and doing it again tomorrow.

I'm off to bathe in a vat of after-sun and get an early night. The sun does funny things to me so I need to feel bright eyed and bushy tailed for my assault on a handicap cut. At least I'll be dreaming happy golfing thoughts.

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