I am proud of myself today! Not because of the score I shot — which ended up being 71 (+1) — but because of the promise I made to myself to be committed on every shot. I’d be lying if I said my mental game was perfect. However, I really did much better in that department by sticking to my game plan, seeing the shot in my mind’s eye and trusting that my preparation would lead to the execution of the shot I had selected.
As a result, my ball striking was far better than in Round 1. After completing my round analysis spreadsheets on the computer (a long and somewhat exhausting task that tracks my performance on the course) I was able to see that my initial breakdown after the round was correct. Let’s do a quick snapshot of the most important stats:
|Round 1||Round 2|
|Fairways Hit %||54%||62%|
|Greens Hit %||61%||72%|
As you can see quite clearly, my ball striking was more solid and more accurate. I hit more fairways and more greens on day two as opposed to day one. One thing I did not do as well was putt. I had many putts during my second round that I thought I had a great chance of making only to see them wind up skirting the lip of the cup or coming to rest a foot short and staring down the center of the cup. Quite simply, I was either misreading them a tiny bit or not hitting them hard enough when I had the perfect read. My stroke felt really good and I was so comfortable, but I just couldn’t seem to adjust to the even slower pace of the greens during round two.
Over the course of both rounds, I did not have any three putts which is a great thing. This means I was really able to keep my focus very sharp while putting and I avoided the mistake I see too often in amateurs: trying to “will” the ball in the hole from short distances.
The greatest part about my round is that even though I did not make hardly any putts, I was 1-under going in to the last 4 holes of the tournament and still had a chance to continue on to the third and fourth rounds of the event if I could hit a few good shots and make a few putts. Here is what I went through on the last few holes to get you an inside glimpse:
After making an easy 2-putt birdie on the 550 yard par-5 14th hole after hitting a great 3-wood off the tee and 2 hybrid to the center of the green, I stepped up to a very difficult par three. Number fifteen is about 192 yards straight down hill with a large and deep bunker left of the putting surface and nothing but water just a few paces off the entire backside of the green. Not only that, the hole played straight in to a 15-20mph wind. To say I was uncomfortable with the tee shot at first would be an understatement! I was having trouble choosing the right club because I wanted very much to have a decent birdie putt, but also did not want to take on the pin which was tucked all the way in the back portion of the green with the water looming close behind. As a result, I decided to choose the shorter of the two clubs and hit a penetrating 6-iron to the center of the green which turned out to be a great shot under the circumstances. The putt was not easy with a large tier in front of me that pushed the 35 foot putt about 8 feet to the left. I read it perfectly, but left the putt (again) short but this time by about 4 feet. I walked away with a par after draining the second putt without too much trouble.
I walked to #16 knowing that I would have to finish with three birdies to have any chance at continuing on. I hit a great drive with a little fade perfectly down the middle and to the flat area of the sloping fairway to give myself a great shot to attack the flag. This time, the flag was tucked back left and just over a very deep pot bunker. Long was death. I chose to hit 8-iron from 180 to the right of the hole knowing that even with a little wind behind, I could not go long. I hit a good shot that drew from the center towards the flag stick and ended up about 20 feet away with a very straightforward putt that only broke about a foot. As had been the case all day, I hit a fantastic putt that was tracking to the hole but stopped a foot shy of going in. I was a little frustrated because I hit such a good putt, but I didn’t let it get to me.
The 17th hole was playing easy for the tournament because of some really bad winter kill on the majority of the fairway. The event staff chose to move the tee forward to play as a short par 4 measuring in at 339 yards which would avoid most of the dead grass and bare ground that was much of the fairway on that hole. I stepped up to the tee with a clear mind and a definitive decision to hit driver with a baby fade just as I had done on the previous hole tee box. I figured I would repeat the same swing and envision exactly the same result. Much to my surprise, seconds later I was watching the ball start left of the target with a low draw towards a hazard I didn’t even know was there. I ended up making a double bogey after I dropped from the hazard (could not find it) and had to punch through some trees towards the green that I could not see. I am told that the ball almost hit the flagstick but continued to roll just off the back. From here I was short-sided and had no chance of hitting it close. I hit a flop shot to about 12 feet and hit the best putt of the tournament only to see it lip out of the left edge of the cup. Deflated but determined to finish my tournament strong, I went to the 18th tee box with a mission. I am making birdie.
Just so you have an idea, the par three 18th hole at The Club at Irish Creek plays a mere 240 yards long and of course that day it happened to be playing in to a strong wind again like hole #15. The tee box is elevated from the fairway which is about 100 feet below and the green rises back up to about the same level as the tee box. It is not an easy hole and gives the impression from the tee box that you have a small chute of trees to hit it through to reach the green and nowhere to miss it as the green complex itself is elevated beyond the surrounding terrain. As I was going last after the previous hole’s debacle, I had the privilege to see the other players both hit it left off the tee and miss the green with little chance of getting up and down to save their pars. Not exactly an uplifting or confidence-rebuilding affair. That didn’t affect me though because earlier in the round I had hit the exact same shot from the fairway on #13 after missing my drive left and having to chip out to get back in position on the par 5. I brought my mind back to that shot on thirteen which I executed perfectly and took dead aim at the pin. I pulled off the shot and it hit pin-high and rolled maybe 7 feet beyond the pin.
The guys I played with couldn’t believe the shot, as it was probably the closest anyone had hit all day considering the overall difficulty of the shot. Although I misread the double-breaking putt, I made par and walked away with a sense of accomplishment as strange as that may sound. Yes, I missed the 36-hole cut of 4 under par by 5 strokes and still feel like I accomplished a great deal. I faced a bit of adversity throughout the day by missing countless birdie putts, dealing with wayward drives and some mind games still from the day before, but I overcame much of it.
I realize that on this journey there will be bumps in the road and that there will be disappointment. I choose not to look at it in a negative way. I feel like everything in this game is a learning process whether I succeed or I fail. I can learn something from each experience. I feel like I have definitely learned from my first event and even made improvements during the event which is spectacular. Change and development takes time and I am proud I was able to change my thinking so quickly.
I have got so many things to work on now and my motivation is through the roof! Over the next few weeks I will be dialing in my tee ball and working specifically with my driver and 3-wood to hit baby draws and fades at will. I will continue to work on my putting, especially the mid-range putts from 12 to 25 feet. I will also try and get my irons more dialed in so that I can be confident in choosing targets that are a bit closer to the hole. My fitness regimen begins now that I have a few weeks before my next event and little worry about having this adversely affect my swing.
Sorry for the abnormally long post, but I had so many things that I needed to vent about. Thanks for reading and following me and stay tuned for more updates!