Fresh from my latest lesson where I worked on my pre-shot routine, it was a friendly round for me on Saturday. I was acting as a marker in the Wood Cup at Royal Ascot for Dave Knight (aka Knocker) and Andy Davidson. It is only open to over 55's and I've a good few years to go before I qualify.
I wasn't focused on scoring and was more intent on ensuring I went through my routine over every shot, and that I was able to accept the outcome knowing I had done everything possible to make a good swing. I started well enough but as usual I managed to throw a few bad holes in for good measure. In the intense heat I was reasonably pleased with my mornings work and it hadn't dented confidence ahead of the monthly medal the following day. In the end both Andy and Dave didn't get into contention and like me were left counting the cost of one or two loose shots. Still they were good fun to play with, the sun was shining and the course was a picture. Sometimes the golf doesn't matter.
Sunday was even hotter. I was paired with Dave Wild a single figure player, going through a similar rocky patch in form as I am and George Spence, a long time member and as enjoyable a golfing partner as you could want. Not a bad golfer too.
I had high hopes. I went through my routine on the first tee and fired a good tee shot away. It missed the green right and found sand. When I got to my ball it was in a footprint. I've no way of knowing if it came from one of the three groups already out in the competition but I was far from happy at this blatant disregard of basic golfing etiquette. I got it out and made a bogey four.
I hit a good tee shot down the second. Waiting for the group ahead to move away, Dave was talking about his loss of form. He has been suffering a dose of the golfing unmentionables and was clearly lacking any confidence. Now whether all this negative talk had sublimely got into my golfing psyche but I carved my second right and out of bounds. In the end I did well to walk of with a double bogey but it should have been a straightforward par all day long.
I proceeded to carve my tee way right at the next. After some searching we found it but I only moved it a few yards and straight left into a bunker. In the end it was another sorry double bogey. From there a golfer emerged. I made par at the 4th, birdie at the next, a bogey and a par at the short par three 8th and suddenly I was back level with my handicap. I only needed a par at the ninth to have rescued a poor start. I hit a good tee shot and although my second was short and right, a simple pitch and two putts for bogey still had me right in the mix. I made a dogs dinner of it. I thinned the pitch over the green and only just found the green with the recovery. A doubly bogey was a real show stopper.
I missed the green at the 10th for a bogey when in good position off the tee and made a hash of the short par three 11th for an ugly double. I got that back with a great par at the hardest hole on the course, the 12th. I was still looking capable of hitting the buffer zone, maybe more. That lasted until my tee shot on the 14th. I caught it well but pulled it left. It landed in the knee high grass and I knew as soon as I hit it that it was a goner. I ended up making an ugly eight (quadruple bogey). I bounced back with a good drive at the next, a par five. I pulled the five wood out determined to find the green in two and make a birdie. In the end I carved it way right into more deep clag and another lost ball and another double bogey.
I hit a great three wood off the tee on the tight driving hole that is the 16th. Out of bounds runs close to the left hand side and on the right is heavy rough. There are two large oak trees around the 230 yard mark and the ball needs to be threaded right of these and inside the menacing out of bounds. The fairway in the landing zone is only around 20 yards wide, widening the longer you hit it. I took the three wood to keep it in play and put it as far as I'd been hitting my driver in recent weeks. A solid approach onto the green from 193 yards and two putts for a simple par. I should have made par at the long 217 yard penultimate hole but managed to three putt from fifteen feet having found the green in regulation. I made a regulation par at the last and it all added up to a miserable net 77 (+7).
In fact we were a very sociable group as both George and Dave recorded exactly the same score. I was disappointed that the final tally was so high. I had done so well to get myself back into the round after a poor start. Ultimately the blame can be laid at the 9th, 14th and 15th holes and if golf was a fifteen hole round I would have been pretty close to contending. The short game was the culprit at the 9th. My tee shot was errant at the 14th and my course management was the reason I made a double at the 15th. I could have hit seven iron, and a pitch to make the green in regulation. There was no need to even pull the five wood.
The one thing I was pleased about was the way I managed keep to my pre-shot routine, especially after hitting the bad shots. The second tee shot on the 14th in particular was well struck after I'd carved the first one left. The fact that the handicap is now up at a round 11 isn't a concern at the moment. I've neglected my short game in recent weeks and this will be addressed this weekend. The ball striking is better and the pre-shot routine is giving me more time over the ball and I'm making a calmer swing.
The game is in a holding pattern at the moment. I've a week off this week and so plan to top up the suntan and get out and play as much as I can. No practice, just playing the course. I'm going to try hitting different clubs off the tee as the course is hard and bouncy, reminiscent of a links course. I've the midweek medal on Thursday and playing in a golf society day on Friday. The course is closed next weekend and so the short game, neglected recently can get some remedial attention and hopefully I am now peaking in time for the club championship.
I just need to make sure I play properly for the full eighteen holes and not just fifteen. If I can do that then the good scores will come. I am making too many unforced or silly errors and it is these that I need to eradicate. The swing is in good shape. I am happy even if the scores don't tell the whole story. I'm still a glass half full Homer and the Odyssey will still come good.