Today’s goal, break 80 at Black Mesa
The more I play Black Mesa the more I love it. This is a special golf course. I become more confident in my shots and where I want them to land or roll the more I play the course. I played probably the most solid nine holes of the year on the front today. I got up and down on #1 from a deep green side bunker. On #2, a short par-4, I used the contours to the right of the green to bounce my 100 yard approach shot to about three feet. But my putt didn’t drop as the speed was not as quick as I expected. That would be about the last bad putt I’d make for the whole day.
Above, the old squeeky windmill at Black Mesa. When the wind kicks up, the windmill plays a an eerie yet rhythmic tune. Normally I’d dislike a sound like this, but this tune almost hypnotizes me. How many millions of times has that wheel spun around? I need to find out if there’s been a name given to this windmill. If there hasn’t, I’m going to come up with an appropriate one….
On with the story…
When I got to the mega cool #4 hole I was still even par. #4 is the famous “dome” hole, where a cool sand dome guards the green left. I didn’t trust my yardage. It dictated a six iron. I hit five. Good choice. It ended up about eight feet below the pin. I drained the putt to reach -1. I played solid golf the rest of the front nine. My new and improving short game and some great putting helped me turn to the back nine at even par. I shot even on the front at Black Mesa. That is good. Could I hold it together for the difficult back nine?
I have shaky confidence in some holes which have kicked my butt every time I’ve played them, like the par-5 13th. Today I was cruising along playing well and 13 humbled me once again. I knew I couldn’t miss the green right or I’d have an impossible up and down from a very deep bunker. I missed right, 7. Ouch. I’m realizing how demanding this course is. You really can’t miss a single shot in the wrong place your you’ll have to make some incredible shots to save par. Usually errant shots will result in an “other” score. My two severely errant swings did result in double bogeys on the back.
Yesterday I melted down on the 15th, a beauty of a par three. I clanked my tee shot into the water and scored a double. I was wanting redemption today. With my good pal Eddie Peck, principal guy here at Black Mesa watching, I pulled a six iron left. The shot bounced off the contours left of the green and ran down to about five feet. I laughed and looked at Eddie and said, “I meant to do that.” Eddie laughed.
Eddie took off to watch the other groups so he didn’t see the putt, which I drained. The first thing he asked me upon the conclusion of my round was if I made that putt. I proudly told him that yes I’d drained the putt, and that despite having my golf ship taking on heavy water on the back nine, I paddled home with a 78. To me a 78 on this course is like shooting a 73 somewhere else.
Puye Cliff Dwellings
Following the round we visited the Puye cliff Pueblo Indian ruins, about 30 minutes from Black Mesa Golf Club. The Pueblo Indians had built an incredible set of dwellings on top of, and on the SIDE of, a cliff. I’ll post more about this fascinating part of the trip later, but here’s an image of our tour guide (right) telling us about the dwellings for now.
I’m too tired to continue writing, though I’d love to share the rest of this great day…
My game stinks
I don’t know what is up. I feel good physically. I’ve lost 20 pounds over the last couple of months and I’m looking like a younger “flat belly” player now. My back isn’t stiff at all. The swing “feels” good. I feel loose. Everything seems to be working and feeling good up until I make contact.
Tuesday I did something I haven’t done since somewhere around 2004. I shanked a shot. I handled it fairly well and didn’t get too bent out of shape.
I feel like I’m actually making solid contact but finding my concentration level is very low and I’m making poor decisions. I’m not focused.
Worst round of the year
Today I carded my worst score of the year and sent myself into an even more confused state than I already was in, which is hard to imagine. Somehow I managed to push on all my bets (won some lost some) which I can’t believe.
Game management? No. Course management? No. I’m in a state of “disaster management.”
Maybe I should just let it go
Perhaps I shouldn’t get too down about my bad rounds right now. I do seem to go through this phase a few times per year. Tomorrow is another day, and I’m golfing so it won’t be too bad. A report will follow.
The HP Byron Nelson Championship is played May 21 through May 24 at the Four Seasons Las Colinas outside Dallas. The tournament is affectionately called “The Byron”, and it’s put on by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. This is the first in a series of preview articles leading up to the tournament.
The numbers speak for themselves, but no matter how impressive Byron Nelson’s records are it’s the quality of the man people talk about first. He set records as a golfer that may never be touched, and it’s only appropriate that the tournament that bears his name continues to set records every year, even after his death.
BEFORE THE TOUR
John Byron Nelson, Jr. was born near Waxahachie, TX on February 4, 1912. Throughout his career on the course and his life afterward he’s intrinsically linked to fellow PGA Tour greats Sam Snead and fellow Texan Ben Hogan, as the three of them were born within 6 months of each other.
When Byron was 11 his family moved to Fort Worth, and he proceeded to have a close call with typhoid fever. At age 12 he was baptized, and it also marked the beginning of his life in golf, as he started caddying at the Glen Garden Country Club. The fact that caddies were not officially allowed to play on the club didn’t hold Byron back, as he used to sneak onto the course to play in the dark. A couple of years later the rules were relaxed a bit, and Byron defeated fellow caddy Ben Hogan in a 9-hole playoff to win the club’s caddy tournament.
Now that I’ve experienced The TPC Sawgrass Stadium course first hand, I’m going to post a review and a bunch of cool nuggets on the course for TPC week! Stay tuneed to Hooked On Golf Blog for all the fun stuff.
I’ll go over each hole, the course, and even the amenities right down to the locker room. I’ll also talk about what it is like for a hack amateur to try and hit a shot on the #17th island green.
Spinal tap moment
First I need to set up where I am right now. I’m at a pool hall in the worst town on the face of the earth. I hate this town with every cell in my body. My friends know what city I’m in.
I’m in my capacity as a rock & roll drummer tonight. This band called me at the last minute to sub for them in a “battle of the bands.” I’ve never heard this band. I’ll be hearing them for the first time when I play their set tonight. This band is very green and excited to play and they asked me to come 1.5 hours before the show. I begrudgingly accepted. Of course these battle of the bands are always a cluster f*&k. No organization. So someone got the times wrong and as it turns out, I’m in this God forsaken town killing time for at least 3.5 hours before I perform. Thankfully I found an open wifi here at this place so I can write about today’s pig fight.
I’m typing out of order now. I just got back from driving around looking for some food. Found a lot of ice cream places. Now the first band is playing and the band I’m subbing for is 2nd. Oh, no. Now the band I’m in is 3rd. Terrific. OMG, I just heard a rendition of Van Halen’s “Jump” with someone rapping over it. I just threw up in my mouth.
Went to a golf match and a pig fight broke out
Today was the big rematch for the new Thursday configuration. That configuration pits my long time golf buddy Arnie, against Sumi-g’s Marius and his pal Roger. Last week entailed me and Arnie losing our team bet to Marius and Roger, and had me forking over $17 to Marius. This week I was hoping for a better performance. OK, vengeance.
Vengeance lite, decaf
Somehow I managed to hit 11 hazards despite feeling pretty good about my ball striking. Welcome to an Aurthur Hills designed course where if you miss a green by two feet you are in a trap or water. I putted pretty well yet had four lip-outs.
Fortunately for me and Arnie, Roger had a flame-out the back, including ditching his shoes and walking out on the Great Salt Mud Lake to see if he had a shot. He then played the rest of that par-5 in his bare, muddy feet (pictured). Marius wasn’t firing on all cylinders all day. In fact, he was golf’s version of a three cylinder Dihatsu Charade firing on two cylinders. He’d bought a new driver and new putter straight from the golf shop and took them out of the wrapper just before this round. I can safely say that putter will be heading right back to the golf shop for a refund. It didn’t work.
Managing an 82 with 11 hazards was somewhat of a bizarre achievement. Even more strange, I lost my first ball on the 18th hole, after I’d already hit 10 hazards. That hackfest 82 was enough to get $9 back from Marius. $8 more to get back to even.
After shooting four rounds of 73 or lower in a row, my last couple of rounds have really stunk. I won’t get too bent out of shape. That is golf I suppose.