Yesterday I had my regular Wednesday league, 9-holes. I played fairly solid up until I got in a bunker on the 6th and ended up turning that into a double-bogey 5. Score wrecker. The sand at Bonneville is very strange. It’s very light but also very large grains.
The front nine of 2:50 (lame yes) ended at 7:20pm. I headed to the back nine with my push cart knowing sunset is 8:30. I thought I’d play a few holes until sunset and bail. On the 13th tee the thought of finishing the whole 18 started to make sense, so I decided to jog some holes. Admittedly, I’m not in the best of shape. I could stand to dump a few extra LB’s and the most exercise I’ve gotten in the last 10 months is clicking a mouse button. I jogged three holes.
Par-3 15th at Bonneville – 230 yards
I actually played very solid golf on the back at a hurried pace, all by myself. My first bogey on the back was the 460 yard par-4 18th. But before I got there I did some practice bunker shots on the par-3 17th which has a bunker I’ve yet to get out of his year. Same weird large-grained poofy sand. I tried numerous clubs and techniques from blasting an open 56 or 60 to squaring up a 52 and chopping down. Either I would blade the shots because the club bounces so easily, or I’d poof completely under the ball and advance it two feet into the bunker face, where it would bury. After about 20 different attempts I tried a completely unorthodox theory.
I took my pitching wedge and squared up the blade. I put my feet close together like I was going to hit a simple pitch or chip. I did a small chip swing and voila, ball goes out of bunker onto green. I tried it again and got out again. Tried it a 3rd time and put it close to the flag. On the 4th time I made a video (very poor quality, sorry about that). By this time it was past sunset and quite dark.
I was very sore and dehydrated today after walking 18 on a very hilly course, and deciding to jog three holes in a row. But playing that back nine alone with the whole course to myself was quite a zen moment; the best time I’ve had playing this year.
Even with a stop to practice bunker shots I played the back nine in 1:20. That kind of golf I can get into. 5-6 hour rounds not so much.
Coming out of golf hibernation this spring has been hard. Having not touched a club for 4+ months put some serious rust on the game. The first round I played was the best of the short season to date, and scores have been progressively getting worse.
Today I tweaked my back somewhere between getting out of the car in the parking lot of the course and the first tee. I’ve been rubbing the lower back vigorously in the shower with soapy (thus slippery) hands to work the knots and inflammation. On the course I tried the same thing but didn’t have soapy hands and did it on top of my golf shirt. In a few seconds I’d done it so hard I took a half-inch wide chunk of flesh off my knuckle. So then I had back pain and a nasty flesh wound on my knuckle. Golf is tough.
On the range before the round a swing thought came into my head from out of the sky once told me by an old golf buddy who moved away years ago, “narrow your stance.” I tend to have a wide stance and it might creep wider and wider. I’ve been quite inaccurate with the irons this year, and hitting lots of fat shots and even 3 shanks. I’ve gone years without one shank. I narrowed the stance on the range and nuked a 4-iron almost to the end of the range.
On the course I hit the irons tremendously for the most part. Nearly jarred my 2nd shot on the 2nd hole. The greens were so bloody fast though, I missed the nearly gimme birdie.
As the round progressed I hit a lot of great iron shots, but started to fight the back spasms. Starting on the back every few swings was a bizarre “protect the back” swing, which doesn’t work well. Just ask Tiger Woods. I lost a few strokes to par because of those few swings, but managed 77.
77 for me normally is a mediocre round, but as rusty as I am, simply breaking 80 for the first time was a major step in the right direction. The number is somewhat a representation of the round, but is much less important to me than the feel of hitting solid irons and executing shots. That’s much more rewarding.
Positive thoughts at the moment, but the back is very, very stiff.
Sunday services today took me up Parley’s Canyon between Salt Lake and Park City, to Mountain Dell. There are two courses there, the Lake and the Canyon. I enjoyed a slightly brisk and quite windy round there, going through the process of resurrecting my dead golf game.
This photo of Rory McIlory sums up how I’m feeling about my golf game at the moment.
The word to best describe my golf game right now is probably the most-used word by President Trump: disaster. After four+ months of not even swinging a golf club over the winter, the golf game has gone into deep hibernation. Come to think of it, I don’t think I even looked at a golf club in four months.
I’m not sweating it too badly because I know every spring it takes a while to get my game back. I’m sure by the time winter comes and it’s time to shut it down again, my game will be getting close.
Pop quiz: Is it possible to lose $21 playing golf with a $2.00 bet?
Answer: Yes, when you’re me and playing against the guy with the best short game in the world.
Yesterday was round 3 of the 2017 season for me. I have low expectations since I have now logged 3 rounds in 3 weeks and 3 rounds since November. It doesn’t even bother me that my rounds are getting worse. I know through many years of experience that it takes me a while to get my game back in the spring. That’s a great reason to move somewhere I can golf all year, but that’s a blog post for another day.
Yesterday’s round featured a match between the team of me and my buddy Arnie, and Dalton and Al. Al is a senior player closing in on 70 years old who I’ve played 100’s of times with. He has the best short game of any amateur golfer I’ve ever seen, and better than most pros. Man was that short game on display yesterday.
Al is not a long player, so he often misses greens he’s unable to reach in regulation. If he misses any green in regulation by 70 yards or less, I’d put his lifetime up and down percentage at around 75%. It was so amazing yesterday that I was hoping my putt from the fringe would be closer than his shot from 60 yards. By my calculations yesterday he failed to get up and down once out of around 14 times. That was on the 18th hole when the match was already closed out and it didn’t matter. Hehe.
At the end of the day Al had taken all the cash I had on me, $21. Nothing more fun than leaving the course with an empty wallet. But it was the cheapest short game lesson I’ve ever had and I learned a lot from him. He hit almost every shot low. Low runners. And unlike what a lot of short game experts tell you (to land the ball just on the green and have it release) he would land the ball short of the green and the ball would roll to the hole like a putt… to 1-2 feet. His release on those shots is pretty low and short too.
Inspired by Al’s short game I was able to get up and down three consecutive times on the back nine, probably a world record for me.
I must resist the lob wedge and go low and run my short games unless the situation forces a high shot. That’s a goal for this season.