Thursday, 16 May 2013

Hold My Hands Up

I said in my last post that I thought my game was close despite the scores not reflecting this and that if I played badly I'd hold my hand. I played the medal on Sunday and to be honest it was all a bit of a conundrum. I was paired with Ian Jolley and Darren "Daz" Appleby and so had a friendly and competitive group to enjoy my round with.

The weather was glorious and after hitting it reasonably well the day before in my narrow defeat in the Summer knockout I hoped to continue and finally unlock the score I know is in there. A sandy par at the first and a secure and stress free par at the next was a fine start. I made a nasty double at the third courtesy of a duffed chip but a par at the 4th and I was through the difficult opening one under my handicap. What followed was a meltdown. I made an ugly double at the relatively simple 5th, and followed that with a horror triple bogey at the 6th courtesy of an out of bounds tee shot. Two more bogey's followed and I then made a nightmare triple on the 9th thanks to a mixture of a poor tee shot, poor course management and poor execution. Out in a horrible 47 (+12) and all my shots used in a nightmare first half.

The back nine was a little better. The swing had escaped and I was having one of those rounds where you can't feel the club anywhere throughout the swing or have any real idea where the ball was going. I started to make up and downs from ridiculous places and had four one putt greens on the spin from the 11th through to the 14th to somehow play that stretch in one over par gross. Perhaps it was a coincidence but the RAF Lancaster they use in the fly overs with the Battle of Britain flight wheeled overhead twice at low level. Such an evocative site and sound seemed to inspire me. Well maybe not but what a fantastic and unexpected sight

A beautiful site. Shame my golf wasn't matching it
A nasty bogey at the par five 15th when in prime position after my second kind of summed the round up. It was to mark the start of a run of bogey's until the last. I hit a good drive but turned it over a little right to left. I tried to hit a bit of a glory recovery and caught one of the mature oaks guarding the left side of the fairway and sent it out to the thick rough on the right. I couldn't get to the green, carrying the water guarding the right hand side so laid up to 101 yards. Normally this was a pitching wedge but the wind had got up and was playing at least a club more. It was right to left which meant the approach had to be sent out over the water hazard. I hit it well enough and it finished inches away for a simple par to close out a very strange round.

The back nine was a lot better and I came back in 40 shots (+5 gross) for a grand total of 87 (nett 76 or +6). Despite this it was still good enough for a top ten finish in the division. Strangely enough Daz finished third with a net 72 (+2) and so despite swinging it so very poorly I wasn't that far off the pace and a couple of better shots would have seen me in contention for a top three placing. Stupid game.

I always call it as I see it and the swing fell apart on the front nine. I just put some bad swings on the ball at the wrong times and made a few bad decisions. The back nine was no better technically and I have to hold my hands up and say I played badly. None of this "it's close" malarkey. A bad round is a bad round. I'd planned to hit the range on Monday night but a message from my teaching pro Rhys ap Iolo suggested this was the wrong approach. He said the swing wasn't broken and that I'd get more from playing a few holes and relaxing and enjoying it. That was the cunning plan but the wind was gale force and by the time I planned to go out after the work there were heavy showers. I opted not to play but also took Rhys's advice and gave the range a miss too. He thinks (probably astutely) that too much practice and technical thoughts and not enough playing is the thing that is holding me back.

I wanted to play Tuesday (torrential rain), Wednesday (domestic stuff to organise) and Thursday (not feeling great) means that I've not touched a club all week. Depending on the forecast tomorrow I may try and get some holes in. Failing that I may hit a few balls just to keep things ticking over. At least the game on Saturday is just a social roll up and so no pressure and I can go out and swing with freedom and enjoy the company. The course is closed all day for the club foursomes on Sunday and I'm not in that so I aim to work on my putting stroke and short game. These are showing signs of life but if I'm to reach single figures, stay there and then kick on towards a handicap of 7 or 8 I need to hole out from six feet and in and get up and down more frequently.

And there you have it. Not a great day aside from the Lancaster flying over. I hold my hands up and it was a bad day at the office. The pros have them and so do club golfers like me (and you). However when it goes bad, it can goes spectacularly wrong as the front nine showed. Funnily enough, even in the eye of the storm, apart from the ninth when I felt nothing but embarrassment, I didn't feel anger or frustration and was working hard on keeping a positive mental attitude. I kept feeling I could get it back but the ninth was perhaps the nail in the coffin. No idea where the miracle escapes on the back nine came from but no pictures on the scorecard so I will take a par any way it comes. Even an up and down for a bogey is a score saver.

Not what I wanted but as always I'll dust myself down and move on. I think Rhys has hit on something and I plan to play much more after work if we ever get a semblance of summer. A more relaxed approach for a while, with perhaps a bit of short game work once a week and see where that takes me. Maybe the odd range session, partly because I enjoy it, and partly to keep the swing and tempo ticking over but I want to add some more structure and hit fewer balls. That is all for the future. I aim to have some fun on Saturday and then move forward again. I don't want to be holding my hands up again for a long time.

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