Sunday, 10 March 2013

A Nightmare Weekend

Friday night was lesson time again with Rhys ap Iolo at the Downshire Golf Centre. I had been swinging reasonably well and although the handicap rose 0.1 last weekend courtesy of 31 points in the monthly stableford I felt that I beginning to take the range work onto the course. Being a diligent pupil I arrived early to warm up. I was hitting the ball nicely. Always a worrying thing. Rhys and I spoke about progress, the lack of playing opportunities with the snow and other things cropping up and discussed the work I'd been doing utilising the Karl Morris information to get the golfing mind in a better place.

Then it was down to business. I was hitting it sweetly. I missed a few right but I understood why. We tweaked the posture at address slightly and tucked the pelvis into a better position. I hit it perfectly. Rhys had taken a video from behind the line and uploaded it onto the PC. What a revelation. Although I am moving naturally away from a true one plane into more of a two plane swing (it's probably a one and a half at the moment!) the swing had a perfect takeaway and as he tracked it to the top of the swing and then back down it remained on a perfect plane throughout. It was as good as my swing has ever been. In fact, after hitting a few more we decided that for now the swing is in a good place and didn't need more work and the rest of the lesson was dedicated to the beginning of the short game revolution. That is a work in progress but we thing we've found the root cause of a lot of the  issues and are now working on a permanent fix.

Suffice to say, the Saturday roll up couldn't have come quick enough and I was buzzing to get out and play. Paired with my good mates Darren and John on a misty dank morning I was ready. My first tee shot was well hit but right, probably down to poor alignment. There is a spur of trees some thirty yards short and right and I was behind those. I couldn't go over and there was only a narrow gap to go through. A long chip and run was called for. I adopted the changes from the lesson and executed well enough to find the green and made a net par.

I hit fairway and green on the next for a stress free par and the fairway on the third. I didn't hit a great approach to the green but pitched on for a net par. I was going along tidily. From nowhere I chucked a double bogey in at the next hooking the drive, pushing the second into sand and three putting. From there mistakes crept in and I was swinging badly. I missed the green right from 120 yards at the fifth and racked up another three putt double. I made another at the short eighth when I went right off the tee and the pitch didn't make the carry over sand and yet another at the ninth when I hit a poor shot into hazard having found the fairway.

The back nine started in similar vein as I hit an ugly drive off the tee into an unplayable position. The tempo had been way too quick, borne from frustration and a degree of embarrassment. I finally found a semblance of a golfer hitting the 178 yard par three eleventh in regulation and followed with a good drive at the next. That was to be as good as it got and the remainder of the round, bar a solid green in regulation par at the fifteenth was a cocktail of bogey and double bogey golf.

I was annoyed and a little bemused at what had happened but today was the Jack Jarratt Trophy. This is a pairs stableford event, a Royal Ascot honours board event, played off three quarter handicap and it is combined stableford points. I was with my usual cohort Mike Stannard and confident that today would be much better.

It was bitterly cold with a biting wind and the course was still wet from heavy midweek rain and so playing its full yardage. My opening tee shot was not a confidence booster, a high sky right flirting dangerously with the out of bounds but it stayed in play. I made a four, usually enough for two points but the first hole was one of those I lose a shot at under the three quarter handicap format. I redeemed it with a great five iron into the green at the third and both Mike and I were ticking over nicely. However it was then that things changed. I made another double at the fourth hole. It is only 320 yards but can be a real sleeper especially with the tricky green but I made a hash of the approach and chip.

Ball striking itself wasn't too bad but I was missing the target. I hit a great 4 iron on the par three sixth but it just drifted right on the breeze into sand. Similarly the approach at the seventh did the same but I had a real "moment" and my escape from sand limped out to the top of the bunker and I duffed the chip to put the ball back on the beach. I splashed out to three feet but by that time couldn't score.

I was trying hard to keep focused, going through the Karl Morris checklist and trying to grind a score. I made a good par to open the back nine and then frittered a shot with a poor escape from sand at the eleventh. In my defence the sand was badly compacted and wet. After that. my game deserted me to a large degree and I couldn't even glimmer satisfaction from the quality of the ball strike. I made another regulation par at the fifteenth and hit a great drive at the 425 yard sixteenth. However it was playing into the teeth of the wind and I was still 225 yards away. It had gone nowhere and the waterlogged fairway hadn't helped. I laid up to 110 yards and knocked it on. However a topped tee shot on the penultimate was a bolt from the blue. I recovered to make the green and rescue a point.

I got a drive away at the last although it wasn't perfect. I hit a good hybrid to leave 118 yards over the pond. I took a club more to make the journey knowing it would stop on the wet green. However I executed so poorly coming up and out of the shot so that it flew short and right to a watery grave. I pitched on and made an ugly double bogey seven but as this was the other hole I lost a shot on under the handicap format it didn't add to our points tally.

While my own round was unravelling, my partner was having his own issues. Hampered by the remnants of a cold he had started in his usually consistent manner. However he began to make his own errors, and was struggling on and around the green more than he usually does. He had thrown in some poor strikes of his own and generally we didn't "ham and egg" at all. In fact there was an air of "wallyness" about the whole performance and it was too litter strewn to ever really be in contention.

Both Mike and I played a like a pair of plonkers! - Me more than him
So where does that leave me? In the words of Squeeze "slaughtered, gutted and heartbroken". How can something so good have disintegrated so quickly in the space of two days. I felt I was fighting the swing both days and that technically it was wrong. I tried hard to do the mental things properly and focus and believe and trust. Hard to do when you are trying to do the things you did with your teaching pro and they aren't coming off. I feel that I tried to do things properly and conditions, particularly today were difficult to say the least. Do I put it down to two poor days at the office? Is it still a lack of playing time in 2013?

I feel really rather low. I feel I let my partner down, not for the first time, even if he was having is own problems. I am looking for positives and struggling to find anything to cling onto. The driver I guess was the strongest club in the bag and I seem to be finding more fairways. I really didn't feel as though I am rotating as well as I did on Friday before and during the lesson. It almost felt as though I was overly trying to rotate and spinning up and out. All I know is that I need to get some more range time in and find the answer. It was my mid to short irons that were the biggest concern and I was regularly missing greens from 140 yards and in. Not what I had been doing for so long in practice.

Definitely not the weekend I was hoping for and another example of how you can go into a round with such high hopes and it is a game that can snatch these away in a flash, shred them and hand them back in pile of broken dreams on the eighteenth green. Still, I've said before Homer's Odyssey is always going to be a long, sometimes difficult journey. At least it wasn't a qualifier for handicap purposes so no damage done in my pursuit for single figures.

The short game is coming and Rhys and I will add some more bricks to our foundations set in place on Friday when we have a short game lesson on the 18th. I have been working hard out of sand in recent weeks and it was another facet that I thought was improving. Maybe the wet sand played a part and so maybe it was just another area just not firing this weekend. I was tempted to hit the internet for some retail therapy and some new shoes or clothes but resisted the urge.

At least I played and finished both rounds without a nagging wisdom tooth a la McIlroy although like him, my head isn't right, at least not this evening. Still I am made of stern stuff. I'll get back on the horse, work even harder and constructively. I'll keep doing the mental work and stay positive and focused on the course, although I did let that slide too over the last few holes as my head dropped a tad. A nightmare weekend. But the good things about nightmare is that you eventually wake up. Maybe I am still coming out of my Winter slumber and I just need the sun on my back. It is a roll up next Saturday and the monthly medal, which is also the qualifier for the Royal Ascot Cup on Sunday.

Lest this not end as a woe is me piece. I am still a long way further forward and the misses are still much better than a year ago. It is still a work in progress across all parts of the game. It is still not really the golfing season and I can't let one bad weekend be a showstopper. I can and will improve. The video on Friday and the sublime feel of club on ball during that lesson tells me it is in there. I just need to get it working regularly. When it is good the good is better than ever before. The bad is a better bad than before and to be honest it was probably a case of frittering shots rather than losing them yesterday and today. Yes there were some bad ones but look at the WGC on the TV tonight and you'll see that even the guys at the top don't get it right all of the time. I will get there.

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