I missed yet another weekend of playing thanks to a nasty bout of Norovirus picked up in work. It seems whenever I have the opportunity to play, fate, or maybe the golfing gods, steps in. I was off on Friday and due to have a much anticipated, and even more needed short game lesson, but being confined to the smallest room in the house ensured that wasn't going to happen.
I ventured, a little warily to the practice ground on Sunday. Bitterly cold with a keen and gusty wind, it was a session in perseverance as well as technique. It started well and the ball striking was solid. However, as the session progressed, old habits reared their ugly head and in particular that old chestnut the hip slide. With the driver in particular this was a problem and the results were not good. In the end I pulled it back but it wasn't the best session in the world.
I have been meaning to start working hard on my wedge play and in particular distance control. I am usually pretty good if it requires a full swing, but once I get in between clubs, especially those fiddly shots around the 30-60 yard mark, where I should be knocking it close I tend to struggle. I wandered down a deserted range between the 100 and 150 markers. This gave me six targets to aim at. I am still not happy with the distance control but the quality of the strike was pleasing. It was a good thirty minutes well spent and given me a firm base on which to build. I tend to be more of a feel player than technical one (strange but true) when it comes to wedge play. I have tried various methods such as the Pelz clock face but I tend to lose feel and touch and so tend to go by eye now.
I finished off with some bunker play. It has been another part of the game I've neglected as I've worked on my new swing over the Winter. I can escape the majority of the time (lie dependant) but getting it close has been an issue. I was hitting it well and escaping with ease. Even by opening the face I was able to get out with extra height and stop. The only downside was when trying to hit full shots out of the sand with mid irons. I am struggling to make a decent strike and get distance. It isn't a shot I play often as the course doesn't have too many bunkers 100-150 yards out and those we do have I tend to manage to miss most of the time. It is still something I'd like in my locker but I will just work on it every so often. I'm happy to invest time in the sand controlling the ball around the green instead.
I had today off and finally fully clear of the bug I'd picked up I decided to brave the early drizzle, dark skies and tricky wind and get out for only my second game of 2013. It was crucial that I took the range work and practice I'd been putting in and try it on the course where there is only one chance on every shot.
Things started well. My opening tee shot came up five yards short of the green. A decent chip and run to a couple of feet and a single putt for a opening par. My drive at the next went right, and although I got back into position my approach came up short. Another decent chip to five feet but I couldn't save par. It was a similar tale at the next, missed fairway, missed green and although I hit both in regulation at the 4th the putting touch went AWOL and I three stabbed for another bogey.
I couldn't get off the bogey train. I was long at the 6th and wide on the 7th. My tee shot at the shortest hole on the course came up short and found sand at the 8th. The hard work in the practice bunker paid off and I splashed out to five feet but again narrowly missed the putt. The drive at the 9th was wild and right but I found a great lie. My approach was well hit but again found sand. Another fine splash to a makeable distance but it lipped out.
I hit a rubbish drive down the 10th but made a bogey, hitting out of the right rough to leave a pitch and two putts. I missed the par three eleventh right and hit an exquisite recovery to three feet from the sand but pulled the putt. Damn. As with the front nine, every hole on the back nine seemed to be a bogey. The trait was finally broken with a regulation par five at the 15th. Normal service was resumed at the next with a bogey five, I hit the green at the long 218 yard par three 17th for another par. I hit another poor drive down the last. No prizes for guessing where the focus of attention will be at the range this week. I hit a fine recovery to leave 183 yards slightly down wind. Normally I'd hit a mid iron and leave a pitch hoping to one putt for par. However I decided to go for it. The last has a pond that eats into the right hand edge of the putting surface and so it needed a fine shot to clear the water . It is a high risk shot hence the normal conservative approach.
I struck my five wood well but it started to drift right in the air and the line it was on wasn't filling me with warm comfy thoughts. From my position down the hill I couldn't see the outcome but had to assume it had gone to a watery grave. I played another as I would normally have done and pitched on. As I went to putt out I noticed a ball on the back edge of the green. Closer inspection revealed it was my first ball. I chipped to five feet but didn't save par.
It wasn't a great scoring round but the majority of shots were well struck. Although most of the drives were decent it was a day where it just didn't find the right position off the tee and so I couldn't go for the green. Putts didn't quite drop although the reads were fine. For the second round of the year I'll take it and there far more positives than negatives. I felt tired on the back nine and feel sure fatigue played a part in the hips sliding on the drives. I found a way to get it round and that bodes well as I get back into it. There is still lots to work on and I'm sure Rhys ap Iolo will strip away a few layers and firm the action up the next time I have a lesson. I don't usually like riding the bogey train but today I was content to do so. That won't be the case on Saturday when I play the first competition of the year in the March stableford.
What is it they say, a bad day on the course is still better than a good day in work? That seemed pretty apt. I need to go back to basics and rotate better around the spine and not slide the hips but that one fault aside everything else is looking good. I even managed to find a short game today. I still think single figures is achievable and that a great 2013 is on the horizon. I just need to leave the bogey train in the sidings and make some more pars. Hopefully that starts Saturday.