After the debacle of the monthly medal last week, I had the chance to relax and enjoy the banter in the usual Saturday morning roll up. No pressure, aside from the constant banter, and a chance to just swing and play without worrying too much about a score. Stick your £3 in the kitty and crack on.
It was a majestic Spring morning, sunny and warm with just a hint of breeze. I pegged it up on the 229 yard par three first. Clear mind, no swing thoughts, just as my teaching pro Rhys ap Iolo wanted. Three wood in hand, shiny white ball on the tee. Stand there and hit it. It was a bit of a hook (big draw) but it found the putting surface and finished no more than four feet away. Cue one smug smile and a jaunty stroll down the hole to the green. It's no good hitting good shots if you can't convert the putt. I rolled it in for a rare and unexpected birdie two. I hit a good drive and decent approach but thinned a wedge into the back bunker. It finished against the back face of the bunker and I had no escape onto the green. I had to play out sideways but then chipped and putted for a hard working bogey.
I made a par at the next two holes but a poor drive at the par five fifth cost me a bogey and I followed that with another when I missed the green left at the par three sixth. I found a greenside bunker at the tricky seventh but played an exquisite escape to three feet. I should have made a sandy par but missed an easy putt. I made a bogey at the closing two holes but had gone out in eighteen points. Far and away my best front nine for a long while.
I started the second nine with a ballooned drive leaving a 156 yards into a breeze. I hit the five iron well but pulled it left into the bunker. Again I played a text book escape to a few inches for a par. I hit a horror off the tee at the par three eleventh and topped a 4 iron which finished well short. I pitched well and rolled in a tricky eight foot putt for par. It was becoming everything the medal round last week wasn't. I found the fairway at the stroke index one, twelfth, and hit a fine four iron. Perfect strike but it faded a tad in flight and ended up in the bunker short and right leaving a thirty yard bunker shot. Again I made a magical escape and it ran to five feet. I hit a good putt that shaved the hole on the pro side. A shame I couldn't find the par the bunker shot deserved.
A green in regulation and a par but then I got on the bogey train and to be honest the finish was ragged. I still racked up another eighteen points and finished with thirty six in total, by far and away my best score of 2013. It was enough to take the money and there is no better feeling than picking up a few quid off mates.
But here is the paradox. I hit it ugly, especially off the tee and made a score and yet for weeks have been striking it so much better and can't buy a score. Yesterday the driving was solid with 67% of fairways in regulation and I hit 28% of greens in regulation. A decent 31 putts which should have been a couple better and although I only made one sand save the other two were great efforts. The problem was the drives in particular lacked any power. Straight but short. I don't know what the difference between this week and last was other than I hitting it further. Coming in with longer clubs makes it harder.
Admittedly I hadn't had the opportunity to practice last week or do as Rhys suggested and just go out play some holes so I'm hoping it was a a timing and not a technical issue. I guess anytime you play to handicap is a good round and taking the cash was a plus, but I wasn't satisfied. A few iffy chip shots, still too many missed putts from the five feet range and that mis-firing driver means there is a lot that still needs sharpening. I want the ball striking to be better and still get the score I deserve. Of course all golfers are never satisfied and there is always a shot or two left on the course.
The course has been shut most of the day for the club foursomes. It's a format I am not keen on so didn't take part but used the time to hit some balls and work on my putting and chipping. On the plus side the ball striking was much improved and I was hitting it better. The driver was still erratic but I think as it was the end of the session, fatigue and a quickening tempo were the culprits. The good ones had the power and fizz back but there were some directional issues, with a few hooks and fades. I'm working on it. The putting is starting to come. I am still not oozing confidence from that 3-5 feet range and I am not happy with the tempo or length of stroke. I haven't given my putting the attention it deserves but I'm starting to address this. The chipping has started to come on in the last few weeks and I am starting to play these with more confidence.
Another strange day in the world of Homer's odyssey. I finally piece together a score without too many issues. In fact someone in the 19th said I slipped under the radar with the round. Sums it up pretty well actually. I never really got in any trouble and I guess that is the key. I am starting to get it together and after the practice session today I'm in a glass half full mood. It is coming. Play ugly and win. It isn't the Homer way though. Play well and win pretty is far more fun but if I'm not satisfied it is only because I know the work Rhys and I have been putting in. I have always believed in you only get out what you put in, not just in golf but in life. I am within touching distance of it. It is coming soon and maybe when it does I'll be satisfied. Probably not!!!