Fresh from my success at Blackmoor Golf Club in the Golf Monthly Forum Race To Hillside (Southern Area qualifier) it was back to Royal Ascot Golf Club and the golfing season is starting to truly get under way. Last weekend was the Jack Jarrett Trophy, a pairs stableford event played off 3/4 handicaps with both scores counting.
My regular partner was away sunning himself in the Gulf so I was forced to seek a new partner in Mark Goodall normally off a very handy 17 handicap but down to 13 for this event. I'd only had the pleasure of his company once before but we seemed to hit it off.
It was a testing day with a gusty wind and cold temperatures. I started erratically with two double bogey's but then began to find some consistency. It was one of those frustrating days. I seemed to miss greens from prime position and putts refused to drop. My partner was suffering the same woes and although we kept grinding away, we never really got sufficient momentum to really challenge.
I managed to produce the odd moment of magic including a long bunker shot on the par five fifteenth from 67 yards to three inches for a simple birdie. It was one or two rotations from dropping for an eagle after I'd tried to hit the green in two.
I was struggling with the swing all the way round and the game just lacked a spark. There were too many loose shots, not only compared to the round at Blackmoor but also compared to recent rounds at Royal Ascot. There were just too many missed greens, too many missed fairways and I couldn't scramble well enough or make enough putts. It wasn't a disaster by a long way. I know Mark felt the same way about his game. He played nicely in patches, threw in the odd bad hole, and like me couldn't make the scrambles when required.
Jack Jarrett Trophy statistics
In the end, we finished eighth out of twenty nine teams and so it was a decent enough return with fifty eight points (neatly we both scored 29 points). We were only two points off a top three and six off the winning score so they weren't big margins. It was a pleasure to play with Mark and it's something we both want to do more of in the future.
I felt that I was struggling to get the club in front of me and feel cramped for room at times. It's an issue I've spoken about before and was working hard during the round to feel as if the club was coming from a steeper place and I was striking down on the ball. When I got it right it was good. The bad ones not so good.
I had a lesson last Wednesday night. I gave my teaching professional Rhys ap Iolo some feedback from the two rounds and in particular the issues I had in the Jack Jarrett event. He had a look and tweaked the set up a little and I found that instantly I had more room to turn and particularly clear properly. Everything was back on track.
Cometh the weekend and Saturday was a roll up game with the normal cronies. I brought a guest from the Golf Monthly Forum who is considering joining as his own course (Blue Mountain in Bracknell) is closing down and being developed by Bracknell Council for housing. A very sad and contentious case (http://www.bracknellnews.co.uk/news/bracknell/articles/2014/11/01/105017-blue-mountain-golf-club-to-close-in-six-months/) and (http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/local-news/binfields-blue-mountain-golf-course-7258096)
I played very consistently. There was a much better feel to the swing following the lesson and a much better tempo and groove to the swing. I putted nicely, despite suffering five putts that did a full 360 degree lap of the hole and refusing to drop. I scored thirty six points, bang on handicap. It was encouraging and good enough to pick up a few quid for second place. Onto the first monthly medal of 2015 in a positive frame.
It was very similar to the Jack Jarrett. A round that held some potential undone by a catalogue of poor shots. I started off reasonably but missed the green at the second. I got away with murder as I sculled the chip to ten feet and made a putt for par. The golfing gods equalled the score on the next. I hit a great drive but it rolled towards a fairway bunker and I was left with a tricky stance. I came up short but managed to salvage a net par. A three putt at the next started to set the scene of what was to come. I did the same thing on the next having found the green in regulation.
The remainder of the front nine was a mixture of good and bad but I'd managed to scramble out in a respectable one over handicap 42 gross (+7). The 10th and 11th are a short par four and a par three and represented a chance to get the lost shot back and kick on to try and make a buffer zone or better still a handicap cut.
What followed was a back nine collapse. I missed the green from the fairway and found a bunker. There was little sand in it but I played a bad shot and thinned it over the green to sow the seed of a double bogey. I missed the green at the par three, came up short with the pitch and chipped to seven feet and missed for another double. That isn't where handicap cuts are born.
I scrambled a net par at the twelfth, stroke index one. Again I found the fairway with a great drive, fading gently around the dog left into position A. I was left with 176 yards and took a four iron but carved it way right. It was a poor swing. I hit a reasonable pitch but it came up short and I had a big swinging putt from the fringe. I got it to within two feet and holed the next.
I was still only a few over handicap and a couple of good holes coming home could still rescue a buffer zone finish. I made a par at the fourteenth to keep me going but I lost the plot and finally the will with a debacle on the par five fifteenth. I found a green in regulation, but was twenty five feet away. My first putt was good but came up short and I missed the par putt. Realising I didn't get a stroke and I was now even further from the buffer I was annoyed and tried to tap the ball in from the other side of the hole and barely moved it and so registered another double.
It was very unlike me. New Golf Thinking had strengthened my resolve and I was much more prepared for the battle. Realising now that the game was up, both for a cut (that had long gone) and the buffer zone, I melted a bit. The mind wandered and it became nothing more than a ball hitting exercise. Two more double bogey's at the sixteenth and seventeenth followed and although I got a net par at the last it was too little too late.
In the I came home in a miserable 49 shots (+14) for a grand total of 91, net 79 (+9) and a lowly fourteenth place in division two and another 0.1 on the handicap. I have to be honest and say the swing disintegrated. There was no feeling, no trust and no consistency but that wasn't the whole story. I'd worked in my last lesson on a more conventional chipping action. In fact we'd been working on it for a few lessons but I hadn't always trusted it and had reverted to the linear method. In the medal I tried to stick with the new action and frankly it wasn't fit for purpose. My arms were stiff and each chip felt like an accident waiting to happen. There were so many sculled chip and only a few that were acceptable. I am determined to find something robust and resilient and ideally more textbook with fewer moving parts than a linear chip. Perhaps it was too much too soon or just a sign of a bad golfing day.
I am trying to find a positive spin. There were some good shots but far too many bad ones and it is becoming a recurring theme. Inconsistency. I appreciate I will have bad days and yesterday was just that but when you play well the day before you surely have the right to expect the game to stand up ore firmly, especially on the coat tails of the Blackmoor game.
Monthly Medal Statistics
The statistics tell their own story but you can discount the final few holes as I'd gone into serious meltdown. Had their been a lake I can't guarantee I wouldn't have done a "McIlroy" and chucked a club into the watery grave. I doubt Mr Trump would have paid a diver to rescue it and present it to me either.
So what do we get from this tale. Well, there is still much to be positive about. Despite not swinging well in the Jack Jarrett Trophy I managed to grind out a score and on another day we could have sneaked a top three finish. When I find the groove as I did on Saturday and at Blackmoor, I am good and getting better. I still need to use New Golf Thinking to stop myself getting ahead of everything on the back nine. I seem to just let it happen going out and then by the twelfth or thirteenth start to think about scores, holes ahead and targets. All big NO NO's. It's something I still need to work on but at least I'm in contention. Yesterday was a round from the dark days especially the short game. I've consigned that to the scrap heap and this has been my cathartic, cleaning of the golfing soul.
At the moment the potential is still there and the golfing season has barely started. I start again competitively over the Easter weekend and so can just go out and play next week with no pressure. I can always work on my game, especially the chipping, should the need arise. There is definitely no need to hit the panic button and one bad round doesn't mean the swing is broken and the work I've done is a failure. Not quite the positive vibe I had from the last post but still a lot going right. Definitely more right than wrong and I'm convinced I'm still on the right path. Onwards, ever onwards towards single figures
2015 Starting handicap - 11.7
Current handicap 11.9
0.2 increase year to date