Summer finally arrived at Royal Ascot and it was a busy weekend as the competition season begins to reach a peak. There was a monthly stableford on Saturday and a four ball better ball event on Sunday. I'd picked my new custom fitted Ping G25 clubs last weekend and had been hitting them well so expectations were reasonably high.
I had a bit of a shocker in the stableford and it was a story of a solid start followed by a mid-round. I played the tricky opening quartet well in level twos and then made a birdie to suddenly be a couple under handicap but gave them straight back at the par three sixth having missed the green left off the tee and been too cute with the pitch. I gave another two points back with a shocking double bogey at the shortest hole on the course and dropped another at the ninth to limp out in fifteen points. The comeback started with a par at the tenth and I was hanging in without feeling as though I was swinging the club well. It came to a shuddering halt with a double bogey at the fourteenth and from there I came home in the proverbial ambulance with a massive three points over the closing five holes. The swing evaporated and I had no idea where the ball was heading.
Sunday saw the club four ball better ball event. My usual partner was unavailable and I was pleased that Dave Knight aka "Knocker" answered the call. He's a steady mid-handicapper and had been playing well lately and so on paper we could have been a decent pairing. In my warm up I found a nice tempo and was knocking it away nicely. Sadly that lasted until I hit my opening tee shot straight right, out of bounds. I repeated the trick at the second and poor old Dave must have wondered why he'd bothered. I couldn't blame him.
I did come into my own at the third but another lost ball at the fifth when I inexplicably hit a six iron fifty yards right of where I was aiming. It didn't help the cause. Somehow between us, well mainly thanks to my partner, we were one under handicap on the sixth tee and I finally put a good swing on a five iron to find the green and make par. We both made an unforced error at the next but I finally came to the fore when I hit a faded seven iron into the ninth green from the semi-rough and rolled in a birdie putt from ten feet. We were out in a level par eighteen points and still in contention.
Dave made a net birdie at the next and we were back in it and I made a par at the twelfth and suddenly we were a couple under handicap. Dave made another solid par at the 187 yard par three and we were still on track. We then dropped a shot on the fourteenth but made par at the next. One under handicap and we were still in with a shout if we could make a par finish. That was the plan. I stuck two out of bounds off the sixteenth tee and poor Dave finally crumbled under the weight of carrying me and couldn't score. He made a par at the last and in the end we came home in 36 points. It was never going to be enough and we were well off the pace. I played like a fool and it's credit to Dave that we got as many points as we did and although I did contribute in patches, I was so inconsistent.
The swing seems to have gone. I had no idea what I was doing and can't remember the last time I lost four balls, three of which were off the tee. I was found wanting on the iron shots and to be fair didn't really have a clue where the ball was going. I thought it was a tempo issue after the round on Saturday but after yesterday I'm not so sure. I know I was swinging too fast but I didn't know where the club was anywhere in the swing and I had no idea of what I was doing.
It's a bloody silly game. I hit it great last weekend with the new sticks and even in the week was hitting it well on the practice ground. I step on the course and it melted like an ice cream in the sun. I wasn't trying too hard, a fault I've had before. I wasn't getting bogged down in swing thoughts and on Saturday in particular had a clear head over the ball. It was just a case of not executing. Rather than chase my tail I've booked a lesson with my regular teaching pro, Rhys ap Iolo for Wednesday night. I don't think it is far off but just needs tightening up and refining. There is clearly an issue, particularly off the tee but I am sure we can sort that out quickly. I just want to leave the lesson confident with my game especially with the big events like the club championship coming up.
I know what I am trying to achieve. I trust Rhys implicitly and really don't want to be making wholesale changes at this stage of the season. That is for the winter. A tweak here and there is all I need and I'll be back on track. Hopefully!
All in all it wasn't the weekend I was hoping for. I hope I haven't scarred Knocker too much with my performance yesterday. I'm sure he knows I can play better. It is time to stop the talking and start performing. It isn't far off. Yes I know you've read that before. The truth of the matter is I am playing some good holes but chucking too many show stoppers into the equation. It is all about consistency and I just need to find a tempo that gives me the time to make the right swing. I need to be confident in that swing and I need to trust it and repeat it.
Some weeks are better than others and that is all part of the Homer Odyssey. I am in grave danger of the handicap hitting 12 if I don't get my act together soon and that is a real incentive. It has certainly not been the season I was hoping for and to be honest I've under performed. Rhys and I have worked well over the Winter and Spring to change the shape of the swing into a steeper model and there have been glimpses of a proper golfer emerging. I just can't seem to reproduce it often enough and there is small flaw after small flaw infesting the game.
I am trying to be optimistic. I am still trying to be glass half full Homer. There has been enough good stuff in amongst the dross to be sure that I'm on the right path. It just seems that it might take longer than I anticipated. The results when they come, and they will, means I will be playing better and more competitive golf. Even in the pro ranks the top players miss cuts and have dips and it is no different even at club level. Take yesterday out of the equation and the bad ones are better than they were and the good ones are much better. I am sure once Rhys works the oracle I'll be back on track.
The weather looks good for the week ahead and so it is time to get the sun tan lotion on, get out there and get back on track. I am still 100% confident in my ability to fulfil Homer's odyssey and reach single figures. I have a week off work next week and so I can play and enjoy some time on the course and get my game back. This ain't over