Greetings from the fabulous and beautiful French Lick Resort in French Lick, Indiana. I think I can see Larry Bird’s house from here. I’m in French Lick on a press trip to review the resort and the three golf courses here. More to come on the golf.
View from a balcony room into the dome at the West Baden Springs Hotel
The photo above is a shot from the balcony of my terrific room here at the West Baden Springs Hotel. The hotel is circular with a huge dome in the middle. The reverberation is quite lengthy.
This is a very classy place. They obviously aren’t on to me being a blogger. They must think I’m a “journalist.” Shhhh. Don’t tell them.
Last night I had a dinner, feast rather, fit for a king. Above you can see the waiter making up my favorite dessert in the universe, Bananas Foster. Wow was that good. Great restaurants here at French Lick Resort.
Check back for some golf related posts from the Ross Course and the Pete Dye course.
In my previous posts I’ve discussed the Salt Lake City Amateur and how I feel a lot of pressure. Two days after that tournament I had to play a gross match against a 1.4 handicap opponent. I’ve not been playing to a level I expect from myself, so I had doubts as to my chances of victory.
I started out hot though. I made birdie on the first two holes, winning both. We tied the third hole and my opponent made birdie on the tough 4th, at which time I was just 1UP. We both had eagle putts on the par-5 5th and both two-putted. On the par-3 6th we both hit the green. I two-putted but my opponent missed a very short par-putt. Back to 2UP.
Then it got weird. On the short par-4 7th I hit a pushed drive down the right rough were there are some trees. Often the shot will finish in an okay position there, just a sand wedge to the green. My ball looked to hit right at the base of a tree and neither of us saw it bounce or go anywhere at that point. We searched for the allowed five minutes and the ball was nowhere to be found. I theorize the ball embedded into the tree somehow, or ended up climbing up and lodging high overhead. I had to go retee and ended up making a double. Back to 1UP.
I made a solid par on the par-4 8th and my opponent had tree trouble which produced a bogey. 2UP.
On the very difficult 195 yard par-3 9th I almost jarred my tee shot. It finished about four feet. I made birdie. 3UP.
We both tied the 11th with 2-putt-pars.
Walking to the 11th tee with my 4-iron I stepped over a rope. Somehow my shoe caught the rope and I was not ready for that. I fell flat on my face and my ball, tee, and 4-iron went flying. I hurt my left wrist and left knee. Mostly I hurt my pride. Somehow I managed to hit a solid tee shot being a little shaken. I made par and my opponent made bogey. 4UP.
We both tied the par-5 12th. I got away with that one. He was a long hitter and was over the green in two. I made a clutch par saving downhill putt from about five feet.
I had a great opportunity on the 13th. My opponent made bogey and I ended up with a five footer uphill to win the hole and put the match to dormie. I should have been more aggressive. The putt tailed off and missed. That gave him life and he took advantage.
On the par-4 14th I made bogey and my opponent made an impressive birdie. 3UP.
On the par-3 15th from 225 I chunked a 4-iron. I then chunked my 2nd shot. At this point I’m beginning to battle the choke mechanism. I lose the damn hole to a bogey. Not impressive.
The 16th is a very reachable par-5. I knew my opponent would have a good shot at birdie or even eagle. He blocked his drive into the right rough and had a slight tree issue. I was a couple of feet in the left rough about 250 out. I hit a killer hybrid which crept onto the front of the big green, but the pin was back. My opponent blew his shot past the green nearly into some trees. He had no backswing. His third shot hit the rough behind the green and he chipped onto the green to about 15 feet. I was too conservative with my eagle putt and ended up 3-putting for a par. My opponent made a clutch putt to tie and keep the match alive. Dormie 2 (2UP with two holes to play).
At this point I’m getting nervous. He has the momentum after that clutch putt and clawing his way to dormie two from 4-down. He hit a stellar shot to the par-3 17th and had about 10 foot birdie putt. I gagged my tee shot and ended up short of the green. Would my nemesis chipping and bad short game lose this hole? Not if I use a Texas wedge! I putted from about 10 feet off the green to about four feet. My opponent missed his birdie and I gave him the par. That left me a slick left to right four footer for the win.
I shot -2 on the front nine with a double (the tree ball), and ended with my best round of the year, 74. It would seem I felt much less self-induced pressure in this match than in the City Am over the weekend.
Match play is without a doubt my favorite form of golf. The intensity and pressure of a one-on-one match like this is so fun. I should have had the match in the bag, being 4UP with five to play. But it’s very hard to not let your brain get in the way of finishing off the match in that position.
My next match is likely against an even better player, a +2.5. He’s human. I hope he brings his C game. 🙂
In the previous post about the 2016 RCK Salt Lake City Amateur tournament, I mention briefly a sock scripting malfunction. I thought the story deserved it’s own golf blog post so here it is.
In the 2nd round of the tournament Sunday I had some other problems in the shoe/sock department. I can laugh now but at the time I was not laughing.
I walked some 20+ miles in some new shoes early in the week and as a result got a bad blister on my left heel, along with some kind of injury on my right arch. So I had some pain in both feet, which makes walking 12 miles in the tournament a little difficult.
I taped the hell out of my ankle and changed shoes on the 2nd day. That helped a lot. The new old shoes did not rub or make the blister worse thank the golf gods.
Sock Scripting Malfunction
It was about 7 a.m. and my bedroom was still dark Sunday morning, the day of the second round. As to not wake up the lovely sleeping beauty bride, I quietly grabbed a pair of white Kentwool Tour socks from my drawer and tip toed out of the bedroom and headed to the tournament. In the parking lot of the course when I attempted to put the socks on I found they were about 8 sizes too small. They were my 3-year-old son’s Kentwools, accidentally located in my sock drawer! Complete and utter sock scripting #fail.
I had no choice. I stretched them and put them on. Surprisingly I could stretch them enough to cover my feet and ankle. My playing partners/buddies told me “just buy some damn socks in the pro-shop!” I told them, “I’m not going to buy a crappy pair of cotton socks. I’d rather wear my 3-year-old’s Kentwools than adult size crap socks.” They thought I was nuts. Then again, they don’t wear Kentwools so they can’t possibly understand.
A few holes in my toes were being crushed together and the stretched fabric was not giving me enough padding. I knew if I continued on I’d do even more damage to my feet. On the 3rd hole I called lovely bride and asked her to bring me new socks.
On the 8th fairway a cart from the pro-shop came down with a grocery sack for me. Special delivery from the wife. Inside was a pair of white Kentwools. Thank you thank you. On the 9th tee I started to put the socks on and realized something. The socks were my wife’s socks, not mine! Too small again! Dammit to hell! I looked in the sack and fortunately she brought an extra pair of Masters green Kentwools, which were my size. What a relief.
Below are all the socks involved in this event, after I wore them all. The smaller sizes are a bit stretched out now.
Left: 3-year-old’s socks | Middle: wife’s socks | Right: my socks
I finished the hot round in 95 degrees with comfy feet and no further issues. Ironically I played better in my 3-year-old’s socks than ones that were my size.
- Score while wearing 3-year-old’s socks: one over par.
- Score while wearing socks my size: six over par.
The stats don’t lie. I guess I’ll be wearing my 3-year-old’s socks from this point on. Kentwools only, of course.
2016 has been a struggle for me on the golf course. Most of the spring I’ve been shooting some very high scores and trying to keep myself calm and “enjoy the walk.” Because I’ve been playing a lot of golf recently my game seems to be getting better, slightly. For the last few rounds my driving has gotten very long and accurate. The iron game is very good, putting solid. Short game improved from that of a 36 handicapper to maybe a 15. Yes, short game is my weak point and source of most of my frustration.
Coming into the 2016 City Am at Bonneville Golf Course I had just won a 27-hole tournament with my dad, and won a match a few days prior. I was feeling very confident in my driving and irons, and thought my short game was improved enough that it wouldn’t cost me too many shots.
Bonneville Golf Course Aerial Photo by Tony Korologos
This tournament, as I’ve said many times, is the one that I look forward most every year. I really value my performance and have thoughts of winning it, after placing 2nd a couple of years ago. I feel a lot of pressure, adrenaline, butterflies. It is difficult to get the ball airborne for the first tee shot. In fact, the first tee shot of the event I missed going out of bounds by about five feet. Since I don’t play a lot of tournaments I don’t have a lot of experience in dealing with that kind of pressure. That lack of experience doesn’t help. I find that nervous feeling very strange yet interesting. I feel like I’m strong mentally. I can’t believe I don’t have the mental strength to overcome having rubber arms that feel like they’re made out of lead. I’m sure more experience in the pressure of a real tournament would help me get used to it better.
So many factors and weird things happened this week. Temperatures jumped up big and the end of the 2nd round the temperature was 98 degrees. For the first time of the season my hands were sweating so much that I couldn’t keep them dry. Some of my grips, like on my driver, get slippery when wet. Try hitting a pressure shot when you can’t hold onto the club. So I wear a glove. I hate gloves. I only wear them when my hands are slipping. As a result, I think my accuracy suffered. My driving was not as good as normal, which put me into situations which brought bogey and double bogey into play. I’m talking about trees, bunkers, even snack bars. More on that later.
Shoe/Sock Scripting Malfunctions
I had some other problems too, in the shoe/sock department. I can laugh now but at the time I was not laughing. Read the next post for details on that. Needless to say, the pressure, sweaty hands, 95 degree temperatures, bad short game, wrong socks, blistered feet… all added up to my simply trying to eek into the prize money.
Highlight of the Tournament
This is surely the 2nd craziest par I’ve ever had. The first being one I made on the Road Hole in 2011.
I nutted an 8-iron on the 160 yard par-3 17th. It flew over the green and hit a downslope, rolling some 40-50 yards into a pile of sand in ground under repair near the snack shack. My nearest relief from the ground under repair left me an impossible situation. I was behind a wall of trees about 80 feet high, hitting up to an elevated green some 20 feet above my head. I could barely see the top of the flag and I could not go right at it. To top it off, my drop slowly moved from grass to a bare piece of dirt.
All I could do was try to punch a 7-iron into the hill and hope that it bounced onto the right half of the green, or off the front of the green. Then maybe I could chip and one-putt for a bogey. The situation had big numbers written all over it.
I chopped the 7-iron in a downward motion because of the dirt lie. The ball came off left of target and went right at one of the trees. It went right through a V in the tree, ticking some leaves. It then hit into the hill and bounced straight up into the air, right at the flag. I didn’t know they were watching, but the players behind me on the 4th tee saw it and clapped! I was left with about a 20 foot par-putt. I made the putt. It was probably the only putt over 15 feet I made all weekend.
I’m not sure how I managed that par. I think perhaps I had a little help. One of the trees behind 17 green has a plaque under it, with a dedication to an old friend named Jeff Dalebout. Jeff was a bouncer in the bar my rock band used to play at for many years. When his favorite X songs would come on, Jeff would jump up on stage and sing them with us. We became good buddies over the years. Along with being a bouncer, Jeff was one of the “night watermen” at Bonneville. For about the first 86 years the course existed, it had no automatic sprinklers. The night watermen would haul hoses all around the course and water it in the dark. Jeff and I played many rounds of hungover golf at Bonneville, after gig nights.
Jeff passed unexpectedly back around 2003 at a very young age. I tip my hat to him every time I walk by his plaque behind 17 green on the way to the 18th tee. I think he gave me a helping hand on Sunday. Thanks my old friend. You are missed.
Best Bud Caddies On Sunday
Speaking of old friends… My best buddy once told me the best things in life are “experiences.” If that’s true, Sunday’s round was one of the best things in life, and an experience I’ll never forget. My buddy Alan Nelson, who normally resides in Philly, was in town. He asked if he could caddie for me in the 2nd round. How cool is that?
Naturally I said yes as long as he understood the “three ups” in caddieing:
- Show up
- Keep up
- Shut up
I loaded my golf bag full of bricks and let him have at it. A fine job of caddying he did. Old Course caddie John Boyne would be proud. Alan did an even finer job of doing what he has been best at for years, being a great friend. He knew when to talk to me and when to leave me alone to cool off (like after I bladed a wedge across the 16th green).
What a great experience. I should find out if I’m in the money when I get to the course tomorrow. Rest assured my caddie will get his customary 10% of the take. I hope he doesn’t spend the whole $1.75 in one place.
I’m a little behind on some posts and for a very good reason, I’ve been golfing like mad recently. In the last six days I’ve played 108 holes of golf:
- Monday: Net match (won)
- Tuesday: 18 hole practice round at Hidden Valley CC
- Wednesday: 9 hole league at Bonneville, plus an additional 9
- Friday: 27 hole tournament
- Saturday-Sunday: 36 hole tournament
So the first news is to proudly report that my dad and I won the Spring Invitational at Hidden Valley Country Club on Friday. That’s a 27-event which includes 9-holes best ball, 9-holes alternate shot, and 9-holes scramble. We won by a mere .2 of a stroke. Handicaps were fractionally divided, thus the decimal points.
Shot of the Year
The possible difference maker (one could count every shot as the sole difference maker however) is the eagle I made on the tough par-4 5th hole of the lakes course. This is a long par-4 uphill. After a good drive I hit a 5-iron from 181 uphill. I wasn’t thrilled with the shot and actually did some whining about it. But the ball released right up the center of the green toward the pin. Upon getting to the green there was no ball to be found. Only one place it could have been, in the hole and that’s where I found it! Since I got a pop there that made my score a “net one.” Never had one of those before.
Love Playing Golf With My Dad
It is always fun to play golf with my dad, and we have really done well over the years in many tourneys at his club. These are times I value greatly, and one of the best parts of my personal golf experience.