I couldn't stand it any longer. Cabin fever had taken firm hold, the credit card was in danger of imminent burnout from an online shopping frenzy and to be honest the back was starting to feel loose and better, thanks in main to a wonderful physio and her manipulative hands on Friday night. My name had been down for the medal and having withdrawn last week when the back went I thought the least I could do was turn up, go out and see how it went.
I had hit a few balls and built up to some drivers and whilst I could feel it during the shot there wasn't any pain as such and there was no reaction when I walked so in for the proverbial penny. In the end, it was probably the wrong decision as the result, in terms of the scorecard at least left a lot to be desired. To be honest I can't blame the back at all and really didn't feel it but I played like an idiot in places, particularly on the front nine which seems to have some kind of voodoo curse over me at the moment. The back nine was better in terms of the quality of some of the ball striking but in my normal manner I found a way to pluck disaster from the face of respectability and threw so many shots away.
Continuing the negative spin, the short game has deserted me again. Now this I am laying firmly at the door of the injury and I haven't been able to put anything I was shown in my recent lesson into practise or work on the set up and feel of the shots. My head was so full of technique, negative "don't duff" it rubbish and fear over the ball that the results were inevitable. On the plus side, I'm not in work tomorrow and so hopefully I can put some work in and finally get to grips with it all. If not we're be back banging on the door of my teaching professional and demanding more attention.
It had all started so well. The opening tee shot was skinny but got to within fifteen feet of the green on the par three first. The chip and run was actually a topped shot to about ten feet and I nonchalantly rolled the putt in for a par. In fact up until the point I stood over my third shot on the third hole from just left of the green it was going well. A duffed chip cost me a double bogey. I then topped the drive on the fourth, something I rarely do but have now done twice in three weeks on that hole. I seem to have perfected the art of ruining a medal card and the fifth hole was another in a long catalogue of entries in how to do it.
Hit one good drive into the fairway. Take a five iron and lay up to 120 yards from the green. Find out you actually have 132 left and so need the eight iron and not the nine or wedge you had hoped for. Pull said eight iron twenty yards left. Thin chip from rough into greenside bunker. Thin recovery to the fringe of the green. Two putt for a majestic double bogey and five shots from 130 yards. Classic.
In the end my front nine score of 45 was ten over par gross and meant I was already close to my handicap limit. I made a respectable bogey at the tenth which I could live with. I then topped a four iron off the tee on the short 178 yard par three eleventh. Topped shots are a rarity in my armoury but like the fourth hole this is the second time in three weeks I've done it on that hole too. Very weird. Anyway, that was to cost me another double bogey.
The day hit rock bottom on the thirteenth when I blocked the tee shot and we never found the ball. Fortunately my provisional had found the green. First rule of golf, always play the provisional ball first! I thought a double bogey wouldn't be too bad but no, I had to go and chuck my one and only three putt of the day into the equation for an ugly triple bogey six. I bounced back with a par at the next and a chip and putt for the statistics courtesy of a nice little twelve footer. I should have parred the next but topped my approach from the light rough.
I did finish reasonably. I was left with 152 yards into the green for my third at the par five last. Normally as there is a pond cut into the right side of the green anything over 150 yards is a bit 50/50 especially as the hole usually plays longer into the prevailing wind. With the card already shot to pieces I decided to for for it. I hit a great five iron that headed towards the pond but drew in the air. It was a little long and ran through and just off the putting surface. I took three to get down for a closing bogey but the quality of the iron shot lifted my spirits.
In the end it was 46 shots back for a total of 91 and a nett 78 (+8) and 13th place in Division 2. Not great, and another 0.1 back on the handicap (now 13.3) but on the plus side, the back held up. It isn't feeling so good now and has stiffened like an old board and there is a nice hot bath running as I type so hopefully I haven't done it any further damage. I am disappointed that the swing was mis-firing. I know I haven't worked on it but I was kind of hoping that the effort I had been putting in recently and the good results I was seeing would have been held in the memory bank and the technique more honed.
In the end I'm glad I made the effort. The course was a picture and I was able to get my arms out in the warm sunshine for the first time this year. It is still a little damp in places but the new head greenkeeper the club have appointed seems to have made some big progress in a very short space of time. A lot of the greens that had been infected with moss are now beginning to look so much better and they putted a treat. They were true, which is all you can ever ask, and were quick for the time of year. It could be an interesting time in the summer when they are at their driest and could be back to their very best. Fairways have been cut and it's nice to stand on the tee and see the definition of each hole. He and his team should be pleased but there is still a lot of work to be done.
The same can be said of my game. It isn't quite firing and there feels like a piece is missing but I can't put my finger on it. The plan is to hit some balls this week, bad back permitting of course, and see if we can rediscover the spark. I know the club wasn't travelling in the right direction, it felt the hips were sliding and not turning and that it was way too long and quick. Other than that I thought I had it nailed. I was worried when I went out this morning about whether the back would last. I'm glad I did it even if the golf wasn't what I wanted. Maybe tomorrow.