I came into today’s Salt Lake Amateur having gone through three huge events in my personal world the two weeks before the tournament. My concentration level due to these major events has not been good. One event was of course my awesome wedding. Another event was a tragic happening to someone close to me which was a heart breaker to say the least. The critical part of that event is over now, but it lives on daily. The 3rd was the most brutal and stressful event I’d ever endured, which took roughly five years to reach and conclude. I had enough stress and anxiety in the last two weeks to last a lifetime.
With all of that behind me I hoped to play well today, and I did except for a few swings. Having not played in a high pressure event since 2009, I was very nervous. I was doing my best attempt at deep breathing to calm myself. I’d love to do a hole by hole but I’ll do a just a couple of highlights. I need to hit the sack and get some rest for tomorrow.
Short game caused my two bad holes and double bogeys. Granted the rough is very deep and thick in this tourney so chipping is tough, but I still should have been able to make pars or bogeys and not gag the two doubles I had. The 2nd double came on the 17th hole when I was sitting quite well at +3.
I had some very nervous big swings with my driver. One should have gone OB but hit a tree and kicked back into the fairway. I made par on that hole instead of what perhaps could have been a double or worse.
I had one three putt. Unforced error. I get pretty mad when I do that.
I made some birdies. One the 5th hole of the day (started on the back) I pulled my drive into deep left rough. I lasered it at 201. Problem was that there was a giant tree about 50 yards in front of me. I pulled a 7-iron to get over the tree and hit it better than I could have imagined. Expecting to be 30 yards short of the green, my ball actually ended up about 10 feet right of the pin. I drained the putt for bird.
On my 8th hole my buddy said “you need to make birdie on this hole.” So on this par-3 I hit a nice solid 8-iron to pin high left and drained a 15 foot putt. I listen to instructions well.
I had a couple of great recovery shots. On the 13th I missed the green left in deep rough. The pin was left. I was short sided and had a downhill lie. I had no choice but to try a flop. It was the only way I could keep the ball in the same zip code as the hole. Phil Mickelson would have been proud as the flop softly landed and rolled to three feet. I made the par saver.
On my 16th hole I tried to play conservative and hit 3-wood to keep it on the fairway. My nervous swing took over and I hooked it into rough which was knee deep. To add to the misery of my terrible lie, I had to hit a 150 yard shot under two trees. I punched an 8-iron very well, and it rolled to about 10 yards short. One of the few good chips got me just past the hole where I made the par putt.
On my 18th (9th hole) I have many nightmare memories. This hole alone knocked me out of the money in this tournament two years in a row. It is possibly the toughest par-3 in town. Miss the green left and you are staring at a bogey or worse. I chunked my 6-iron short. In British Open style, I putted from about five yards short, up the huge tier in the green, to one foot behind the hole. Last year I doubled and tripled this damn hole. This year so far, par.
In my flight (3-6 handicap), my pal Arnie is tied for 2nd. I’ve got nine guys in front of my 77 and I’m four shots back. They pay 18 spots so I’m right in the money. Many players really gag hard on day two and the course will be even tougher. If I can play well, I should be able to break into the money for the first time ever in this event.
Unfortunately the latest edition of my How Not To category features my own game, or lack thereof. My once accurate driver is like a mystery club. Towering slice one shot, then a duck hook the next. I’m not even sure where to put the ball in my stance. I’m pulling the hell out of my irons, 30-40 yards left and with a draw. My chipping is awful. Putting… OK that is actually good. You can’t lose them all.
How bad is the ball striking right now? I had 22 putts the other day (including a 3-putt) and shot an 81. That is nearly impossible. The only two greens I hit in regulation I birdied. That is like some sort of torture.
I had a small practice session today in prep for the Salt Lake Amateur this weekend, the tournament I want to play well in the most. Out of 20 balls on a 30 foot chip, I chipped 9 long, 9 short, and two right on. 10% distance control. Brilliant. I hit a small bucket and couldn’t seem to fix the towering draw-hook, except of course on the final ball of the bucket which I hit dead straight at my target. That of course is the golf gods f’ing with me.
Yes my life has been in a total state of chaos lately and my game is reflecting that. I guess that is my excuse. I’m not sure if I can suck it up and pull it together in time for the big two day amateur this weekend. Results to follow.
Played today at a course I normally play well but normally ride. This is a very hilly course and I was playing as a single so I used my push cart and walked instead of riding to get some exercise. Now I’m a bit worried about my knee. Now that the round is over and it has been an hour or so since I finished, walking downhill or downstairs is very painful just left of my left kneecap. That can’t be a good sign.
Anyway, for a while there I thought I was going shoot 18 5’s in a row after starting with 7 in a row. Then later I made five more 5’s in a row. For the whole round I shot 14 5’s. That has to be a world record for me, and not a good one.
I haven’t typed anything in about 36 hours now. Why? Because my hands have just thawed. I couldn’t wait to get back home from Orlando to Salt Lake. I couldn’t wait to get back to 4200 feet above sea level, 12 degrees farther north in latitude than Orlando FLORIDA so I could WARM up. The big decompression day after my biggest and most exhausting PGA Show ever turned out to be nearly a complete train wreck, except for the fact that I got to spend it with two great pals.
I should have known when we couldn’t find a Starbucks within a 500 mile radius yesterday morning that it was going to be a rough day.
Thanks to our pals at Falcon’s Fire for playing host to this year’s battle. Unfortunately for us it was so cold and windy we were battling hypothermia, rather than battling the golf course. The winds were high and the temps down. After blading three irons on the range, numbing my hands, then hitting two low worm-burners left with my driver, I was ready for play after a two month golf hybernation… Right.
Time for some excuses
Until yesterday I hadn’t played golf for almost two months. That is like John Daly going 6 minutes without cracking a beer, Obama going 34 seconds with saying the word “change” and Tiger going three hours without picking up a busty waitress at Perkins… Oh, did I just go down that road? My apologies.
On the first hole I hit the fairway with my driver and I was 100% fairways hit for the decade. That’s as good as it was ever going to get. That stat would soon vanish, as would many of my shiny Srixons and Bridgestones in my bag. My confidence as well as my cash faded away as well, as I flamed out in the frozen wind blown tundra of Orlando.
I didn’t manage even one solid iron shot. It could be because my hands were frozen, or that I hadn’t played golf in weeks, or that I’d just worked my ass (or lack of one, since someone told me at the show that I didn’t have one) off for days at the PGA Show. It could just be because I’m a hack.
OGB and Into The Grain are fun cats and I hope to play many holes of golf with them in the future. I gladly handed my hard earned cash to Dave (OGB) for his triumphant victory, and like a good sport congratulated him on his victory while watching him celebrate. The taste of defeat is bitter, but a character builder for sure.
16th hole fireworks
Because we were so cold and our scores were all blowing up, John and Dave decided to have some fun on the 16h. Could John, a right handed player, beat the left handed Dave with his own clubs on a hole? The video below contains the answer. Be sure to watch for the incredible green side bunker shot.
I’d love to say hello to any of you HOG “patrons” (stole that from Augusta National) who will be at the PGA Show. I know a few pals who will be there and I’m looking forward to seeing you all! I’ll be working the Sumi-G booth all week, #3629. Come by and say hello.
I’ve got a tee time Sunday morning at 8:15. Anyone interested? The rematch of Mediaguru vs the Orlando Golf Blogger will be taking place. Will OGB get his $1 back? I have another $1 that says a resounding NO!