My second round of the Stone Cup was on Sunday. Conditions were dry with patchy sun but the wind was much stronger. I went out with the same pairing of Mike Stannard (my regular partner) and Brian "Mase" Mason. I had decided to change my address posture and reverted to a more conventional position, rather than the more upright stance my teaching professional Rhys ap Iolo and I had worked on in our last lesson. I hadn't felt comfortable with the change but hadn't really been able to work on it since the lesson.
My opening tee shot went right. It was well struck and was good enough, just, to clear the line of trees leaving a simple pitch in. I got it to six feet and rolled in a putt for a par save. I made a par at the second and third and the charge was on. It came to a clattering halt on the fourth. Such a simple par four, it is a real sleeper and causes a lot of problems, usually on the green. However my tale of woe began with a topped tee shot. I hit a decent recovery but wide of the green. It should have been a simple chip but I thinned it and it sailed through the green and out of bounds. I stuck my fifth shot short, chipped on and two putted for an ugly eight.
I made a net par at the next and then came to the sixth hole, a 178 yard par three. It has been a real bogey hole recently. I hit a four iron but cut it right. It came up short in the light rough and I faced a tricky chip over a steep slope. I executed well and got it to within ten feet and made a crucial putt for a momentum building par. This was briefly halted with an ugly double bogey at the next. A good drive was followed by a pulled approach, a weak cheap and three ugly putts. However I bounced back with a par at the last two holes to go out in eighteen points so was already a point better than the same point in the first round.
Then the rot set in. The change to set up wasn't producing any more consistency and a lost ball from my drive at the tenth needed a scrambled par with the second ball to salvage a point. I made a net par at the next and then lost my ball from the tee at the twelfth but repeated the Houdini act with a one put to salvage a point. When I found the green at the thirteenth, another long par three and made a safe par I thought maybe I could make a solid run in.
Instead it was an erratic run of bogey and double bogey and only the fifteenth was played conventionally finding both the fairway and green in regulation. It was a real struggle and felt I was working overtime all the way to make any kind of score. In the end I came back in fourteen points for an overall score of thirty two. Added to the twenty nine amassed the day before and it came to a paltry sixty one overall. Not only that but it was yet another 0.1 increase to the handicap. In the end it was only enough for mid table anonymity in twenty second place. I felt I'd taken a small step forward having scored more than the day before. Bank Holiday Monday would be a social game and a chance to go back to the address position we'd been working on in the last lesson and really try it out.
What was to follow was four hours of torture. My game disintegrated and the tone was set the moment the first tee shot of the day flew straight right and out of bounds. Nothing I tried came off. I was losing balls on a regular basis. I was embarrassed to be out there and the sheer frustration had me on the verge of tears. If I hadn't been marking a card for someone completing their second round of the Stone Cup I think I would have jacked it in by the fourteenth. In the end I was trying hard to stay positive for the sake of my playing partners. No-one likes to play with a sulky partner, less so when you are trying to make a competition score so all I did was my best to keep up, shut up, and appreciate the decent shots from the others.
I've absolutely no idea where the meltdown came from. It was the worse round of golf I can remember and was akin to being an absolute beginner. I couldn't do anything right. There was even a shank and an air shot. Unbelievable and I felt a million miles away from my goal of single figures. I tried to stick with the changes. To be fair, the new address position had shown initial signs of being a positive move in some of the rounds but it just had no consistency and in my first round of the Stone Cup it felt that each shot lacked any power.
On the plus side there was a lesson already in the diary with Rhys for this Wednesday (29th) so I knew help was at hand. I wanted so much to just put it down to one of those rare days many golfers get. However I was also concerned that the swing was in a state of total disarray. My normal reaction would have been to have hit the driving range on Tuesday and start chasing an answer, playing with the swing, set up and bashing ball after ball. That isn't the Homer way anymore. I am trying to practice less, unless it is after a lesson and I'm working on specific changes. Rhys wants me to get out more, play more and have fun. If only the British weather would let me out. It seems to have been raining every time I've had an opportunity to play and if I'm honest there is no way I am going out to get damp just to get a few holes under my belt.
So then a weekend of small highs and deep, deep lows. The handicap continues to climb and the swing has gone AWOL. Not what I had envisaged but with a lesson to come I'm trying to remain upbeat. Remember this is suppose to be the year of the glass half full Homer but let me tell you, Monday tested that to the very limit. However what doesn't destroy you can only make you stronger. I am a determined, some might say obsessive, sort and won't stop until Homer's Odyssey is fulfilled and I get back to single figures. It will come. Monday has been banished from the memory bank and it is a case of upwards and onwards. Let Rhys weave his magic and lets start the next chapter.