It’s club championship season now. My main club (only club this year instead of 3 clubs last year) is in the midst of it’s match play run. Our champ flight started with 16 players and now it’s down to 4.
I came into the bracket as the #1 seed as the returning 2005 champion. Yesterday was my 2nd match (obviously I won my first). This cat that I played had a bizarre swing. I think it was Bobby Jones (or was hit Hogan…..no wait.. it was Harvey Penick) who said “beware of the guy with the strange swing.” Harvey was right.
#1: Our match started out with me knocking my approach shot on the #1 par 5 to two feet in heavy head winds. I was in great shape until my opponent almost jarred his 3rd for eagle and had a 1″ birdie putt.
#2: 2 is a 468 yard par 4. Fortunately we were now playing with a huge tail wind so my drive ended up at 95 yards. Yeah a 372 yard drive, just don’t mention the tail wind. I knock my lob to about 4 feet and make birdie. I’m one up.
#3: Par 3 at about 180 yards. I flew the green into deep rough and can’t get up and down after lipping out my par putt (lip outs will be the theme). My opponent makes par. Even.
#4: Par 4, 435 yards down wind. I go 4-iron 9-iron 2-putt for par. Opponent bogeys after going in the left hazard. I’m one up.
#5: Par 5 back into the wind. I hit a good wind drive and then hook a 3 wood into the hazard. By the way, this course has hazards on seemingly all sides of all the holes. I hit an amazing lob with the ball above my feet in deep rough to a couple of feet and tie my opponent’s par to stay one up.
#6. Down wind par 3 and I blow my 7-iron right of the green. I chip out of the deep rough and the ball takes off and ends up all the way off the other side of the green. Thankfully my opponent drains his birdie putt so I don’t have to grind. Even.
#7. Down wind par 4. My opponent hits first and in my opinion pulls a bad club, his driver. He blows his driver into the rough (it’s all deep here). I hit 4-iron to the middle of the fairway. I hit PW past the pin and make birdie while my opponent bogeys. I’m one up.
#8. Par 3 into the wind. I blow another par 3 tee shot right with the same club I did on #6. I’m pin high and chipping from long rough. I lip out about a 4 footer and make bogey. Even.
#9. Par 4 into the wind. I hit a good driver and have a lob wedge into the green as does my opponent. We both par and we’re even after 9 holes.
Here’s where it gets interesting. The course we were playing is very tough. The front 9 is much tougher than the back and I shot 2 over. We go to play the back 9 but there’s a big ladies tournament called “Chicks with sticks” playing a shotgun. The back is closed. We end up having to play the front again to finish the match!
#10 (#1). The wind is howling now on this par 5 and somehow I manage to hit a drive so far it goes into a water hazard. I’m hitting my 3rd shot from 230. I get up and down for a 6 but so does my opponent who also had a hazard ball. All square still.
#11 (#2). That long par 4 downwind remember? I swing out of my shoes because I want to beat my 372 yard drive from before. I hook it into the crap instead. I misjudge the tail wind with a SW from 130 and end up short. But I do get up and down for par. My opponent blades his approach way over the green and makes a terrible birdie chip which ends up about 25 feet above the hole. He drains that clutch putt to keep the match square.
#12 (#3). Par 3 downwind. I knock an easy 7 onto the green and my opponent misses the green. He can’t get up and down and I two putt to go one up.
#13 (#4). I chunk a 5 iron badly but hit the fairway down wind. My opponent blows his tee shot about 100 yards past mine. I miss the green and can’t get up and down. He two putts for par to win the hole. All square.
#14 (#5). Par 5 into the wind. I remembered #5 last time and made sure my 3-wood stayed in play, barely. I took a free drop off the cart path and lucked out because the ball kept going closer to the hole when I dropped it. So rather than getting a terrible lie I was able to place the ball. Thanks to that great placement I chipped a great lob to about a foot and made birdie to go one up. Tight match eh?
#15 (#6). Par 3 down wind. I remembered blowing my 7 right last time so I aimed left a bit and hit a good shot to the center of the green. Now I’m thinking fairways and greens, let him mess up. We both hit the green. I lip out a birdie putt which would have really put the hurt on him but it wasn’t to be. I’m still one up and there are 3 holes to go.
#16 (#7). Par 4 down wind. I birdied last time with a 4-iron off the tee so no reason to change now. I split the fairway. I took a very conservative 8-iron to assure I’d have an uphill birdie putt. Fairways and greens right? I did hit the green but it was way too conservative and I had about a 40 foot putt. I end up 3 jacking to hand him the hole. Nothing ticks me off more than 3 jacking, nothing. All square with 2 holes to go and the nerves are kicking in.
#17 (#8). Since my opponent won the last hole he had the honor. He pulled his tee shot into the left green side bunker on this par 3. I hit a solid 8 iron to the middle of the green (fairways and greens right?). I two putt for par and he bogeys after hitting his sand shot too long. One up with one to play.
#18 (#9). I’m really thinking fairways and greens. I’m very calm and relaxed in match play and I can keep it under control usually. My opponent was starting to melt under the pressure and he blew a drive into a right hazard but was able to find his ball. I hit a smooth punch driver to about 100 yards out in the fairway (fairways and greens). He makes surprisingly solid contact out of a terrible lie in the hazard and actually flies over the green. He’s got a near impossible up and down with probably the fastest downhill chip on the course. I punch a lob wedge to about 15 feet above the hole. My opponent ends up making a double and I par to win my 2nd match of the year.
I’m now in the semi-finals, or the final 4 (whatever you want to call it). The remaining players are all very good sticks. In fact I’m probably the highest handi of all of them at a 2.
Can I repeat as club champ again? Stay tuned…