Meteorological update, 8.00am Sunday March 17th - wet with rain of biblical proportions continuing to fall. It has been a shocking couple of days and unsurprisingly the course has taken another battering with all the rain we've had in the last twenty four hours. It is open, just, but the front nine only. The back nine is shut and the usual few holes, 12, 15 and 16 are waterlogged. Credit must go to David Ansell the head green keeper and his hard working staff for keeping some holes in play to allow the members to get their golfing fix.
I played nine holes on Thursday and it had dried out nicely and was beginning to look in great shape. The greens had been treated again and were a fraction slow but putted true. The fairways and bunkers had dried out and all in all it was starting to come on. Having seen the forecast for Saturday, I had already parked the idea of going out in the normal Saturday roll up. Indeed when I opened the curtains it was chucking it down. Nothing for it but to put the electric blanket on, adjourn back to bed for a lie in until mid-morning and vegetate in front of the sport on the TV in the afternoon. Bliss.
Having seen that the back nine was closed yesterday, the chances of the monthly medal, also acting as the Royal Ascot cup (knockout matchplay) qualifier were slim. As I left the house there was no update on the website so I diligently went for my allotted tee time. Of course, there was to be no miracle, and the back nine was well and truly shut. I adjourned to the range.
I seem to have spent a lot of time the last few days working on the swing. My nine holes on Thursday weren't great. It is sometimes hard, playing on your own, but the swing wasn't feeling good and results were poor. It had started brightly enough with a good opening drive into the green side bunker and great bunker shot to five feet. I made the putt for a sandy par. After that the driver mis-fired, after being a lot more dependable in recent rounds. There was some good stuff in there as well but I wandered onto the practice ground to find the spark. There was some better stuff in patches. The club pro Alistair White was out giving a lesson and he wandered over at the end to cast an eye on my efforts and seemed quite pleased with how I was swinging.
Friday night has become range night, in preparation for the weekend golf. There was a blustery wind and it was raining as I arrived at Blue Mountain but the session was good. I feel as though an old habit of coming too far inside and fanning the club is starting to creep in but the strike and the direction, for the moment at least, are telling me it is fine. It just feels the position halfway back has changed from the one I spent many hours trying to create way back at the start of the Winter when Rhys ap Iolo started his major work on my game. It might need to get him to cast his eyes over it again next time I have a full swing lesson.
Tomorrow is a big day. Those that have played with me in the last twelve months or have followed my exploits on here (don't forget to tell your friends and spread the word) will know that I have been struggling with my chipping. A lot of it is in my head and I'm full of negativity based on a succession of fat and thin chips in every round. I stand over the ball never quite knowing the outcome and that is never a recipe for success. Rhys has been working hard, overly so probably, to get me to think I am a better chipper. It is hard when you can't see the results under pressure on the course or have a technique you can steadfastly trust. We did make some initial changes at the end of the last lesson. Tomorrow though is "C DAY" where we go outside, come rain or shine and get this nailed once and for all hitting off the grass. "C DAY" aka chipping day is the start of another long road but one which will have a huge impact on my game.
Actually I can't wait. If he can just get me something that works technically that I can go away and work on, and if he can detox the poison in my head, the latter being much the bigger task, then I'm prepared to work as hard and for as long as it takes. It really is the missing piece in the jigsaw. I am swinging better than I have in years. I just need to believe in that too. If I can find something to get the ball up and down regularly if I miss a green, even if it is a couple of times per round initially, then those couple of shots will make all the difference. Once I find a short game, single figures and ideally a handicap of 7-8 is there for the taking.
I am not hopeful the course will recover by next weekend when the better ball stableford event is due to take place. It has already been postponed once when we were waterlogged in February. I hope we can get it on. Mike Stannard my partner is in the same boat as me. He has been tinkering with his game and having lessons and it is really close for him too. If we can gel on the same day then his usual steady approach akin to my methodology of loitering with intent, trying to come in on the rare occasion he has a bad hole, then we can give this a real run. Because Mike is so reliable, it frees me to play my shots, which suits my game. I can play conservatively as well without compromising anything. That was the approach I took at the Golf Monthly Centenary Final at the Forest of Arden eighteen months ago with aplomb, coming second overall, pipped on countback, but winning my handicap division. It might be time to re-evaluate.
I do have one gripe though. The golf club mad a big fanfare of joining the social media revolution and getting a dedicated Twitter and Facebook page. Credit to them for doing so as this could be a good and free method of attracting new members and announcing special events. HOWEVER, if you are going to do this then why oh why don't you use it to provide course updates. It is a lot easier for a lot of members to get a tweet or Facebook message than having to log on to a PC or I-pad to look at the website to get the information.
It should only take a few seconds to send these and if you are updating the website then udpdate these other sites as well. That way all basis are covered. It is great that Royal Ascot Golf Club are embracing new technology and the new General Manager David Boyce (or Boycie as some of the members have imaginatively nicknamed him, after the character in Only Fools and Horses) is doing a good job at getting the club out there. It just needs taking to the next level to serve the membership fully. Moan over.
All in all then, not much golfing going on. Range balls are scratching the itch, just. The lure of the second coming of a short game is whetting my appetite and I am still fully engaged on my quest towards single figures. We just need the weather to play ball now. There are some things even golfers can't control.