I had absolutely no ambitions and simply wanted to knock it round and try the swing out. As you may have realised from recent blogs, progress has been good since my last lesson and I have been been striking it really well. Would it hold up under a real examination. The opening hole at Royal Ascot plays as a 229 yard par three. I stood there with my ball pegged up and a three wood in hand. I addressed it and took aim. The result wasn't perfect and it was a bit of a hook but it ended up just off the green pin high. It could have been a lot worse and even though I didn't put a perfect strike on it I'd go it away.
I had heard good things about the state of the greens considering the time of year and I was surprised at just how quick they were as I trundled my opening putt four feet past the hole. Despite not having worked on my putting at all during my lay-off I was pleased to roll the return in. I made poor swings on the third and fourth tees and could feel the old habit of rotating my arms on the takeaway creeping back in. This meant I started to focus too intently on the takeaway and maybe started having too many swing thoughts bouncing around my head over the ball. The ball striking was nowhere near as crisp as I had been hitting either at the range or off the turf on the practise ground.
On the front nine I rode the bogey train on every hole until the 8th where a poor strike put me in a terrible spot and a double bogey followed. I managed to nail a really solid drive off the ninth tee and find the green to make a good par. Another followed at the tenth and I then found the green at the par three eleventh. Sadly the putter let me down and I three putted but at least the quality of the strike had been there. I carved a drive way right off the twelfth and again at the fifteenth as the big stick misfired.
In the end I didn't play great and really wasn't happy with a lot of what I did. Maybe I'd been lulled into a false sense of progress by the stuff I'd been producing at the range. Don't get me wrong I really enjoyed my round and being back out on the course. I had just hope that I could have hit a few more good shots. I couldn't have played that badly as I cam back with the ball I started with and broke the thirty points barrier. Maybe I'm being a tad too harsh.
I was back on the Royal Ascot practise ground today. Not looking to right the wrongs of yesterday as it wasn't an abject return but to tighten the swing back up. In the end it wasn't the most productive of sessions. It wasn't bad but I just wasn't as happy with my swing and strike as I had been in recent weeks.
In the end I think reality has finally bitten this weekend. I'd been warned that I would have downs as well as ups. I was on a big high after my last lesson and the progress I'd made since so it was perhaps no surprise that the first round would be a real wake up. If anything I was a little more upset about the work out today rather than the round but there was still enough good shots in there. I need to work hard on the takeaway. This was the biggest change I've made to date and is critical to get the club in the right place. It is clearly still a work in progress and too often yesterday and today it wasn't quite right. A long way forward from where I was even six weeks ago but not something I can stand there and rely on to fire every time.
It isn't all doom and gloom. I'm back and playing and my game can only move forward as I play more often. I've a short game lesson on Friday which will start to right a lot of the problems in that area which will drip feed back into my scoring. Plenty still to work on but I've taken the first big step and got back on the course. I've had a bite of reality and that can never be a bad thing. Time to take stock and move on again. Onwards and upwards.