10th Hole – RIver Oaks
Last Tuesday I played round one of my 2015 club championship, defending my 2014 title. I’ve been struggling the last few weeks and I struggled during the first round. The course was playing as tough as it can play with 20-25 mph south winds. From the tips of this mega-tight course and with those winds, big scores can happen, and they did.
It was a bizarre round to say the least. My normal group of players all could not make it, so I ended up playing with a group of players I did not know. They were all seniors and very high handicaps. While they were nice gentlemen on the course, it was a bit wonky for me to be playing two tees behind them, and watching them card nines and tens on holes while I was trying to grind out pars and an occasional birdie.
It got more weird.
The group I was playing with were only 9-hole competitors. So I headed to the back nine with nobody to play with. With nobody to play with, I was sure to card a hole-in-one on every hole. I was going to have to wait for a foursome of league competitors behind me to catch up in order to complete my round with league members. So it would be weird because I’d be in a five-some.
Then the pro shop sent out a league member to play with me as a marker. It was the player I’d beaten in the final match of the 2005 club championship. He proceeded to tee up no less than four balls on the 10th, spraying them all over hell. As he was there just to play some practice golf, he was hitting multiple balls all over the place. Near the greens I would chip on, then he would chip 3-4 balls. On the greens he was putting several balls all over the green. It made it hard for me to concentrate.
On the par-5 13th into a heavy wind I decided not to go for the green and to play a 6-iron layup. I pulled it into some very long grass left of the fairway. I searched for my five minutes to no avail. The marker sat in his golf cart on the other side of the fairway and did not offer to help. I ended up making a double-bogey on that hole, the easiest hole on the entire course.
It gets more strange.
Dissatisfied with his poor play of his 3-4 balls per hole, the marker decided he’d had enough and LEFT after the 15th hole. I was on the 16th tee in my club championship, playing by myself. This is messed up. I’d talked to the league president via text about it and he understood I had done everything I could do and that he trusted me to finish the round by myself. Great! 16-17-18 will all be aces! I ended up finishing par-par-birdie. Damn near aced the par-3 18th. Imagine how screwy that would have been with no witnesses?
As mad as I was, especially with making some horribly stupid errors on the course like losing a ball on a par-5 layup iron shot, I’m only TWO shots behind the leader with one round to go tomorrow.
I not only have a chance, I have a good chance. That is, if I find someone to play with.
I’ve said many times that match play is my favorite form of golf. Despite losing a quarter final net match today I still do. Today’s match was an uphill battle all the way. The best part of my game, putting, was essentially nullified by newly punched and sanded greens.
Making putts in these conditions is not about skill. It is about luck. I’m not good at taking a full swing with my putter and feeling the ball compress. Just don’t have the right feel for it!
My opponent was a very nice chap from Colombia of all places. We chatted about Bogota and my trip there was was fun. Gross I beat him by four shots and he won the net match 2-and-1. That’s what getting five shots will do for you. I hope he does well in the next round.
I’m not mad this time around. It just wasn’t in the cards, the clubs, the sky, the grass.
Oh yeah the rock, mentioned in the title of this post. On the 7th hole I was in the left rough but in good shape since my opponent had a lost ball. I hit pitching wedge and heard a horrid thwacking sound. The ball went about 30 yards. I looked into the divot and there was about a five inch rock underneath my ball. My new Mizuno JPX-850 Forged pitching wedge broke the rock in half and took some bad battle scars. That blows.
See ya next year match play.
Bonneville Golf Course – Aerial Photo by Tony Korologos
While I was playing a gross match in my men’s league Tiger shot 80 at the U.S. Open. I beat him by five shots today… Yes yes I’ll surely catch grief about how the courses we played are different. That is true. Tiger played a par-70 course and I played a par-72 course… 🙂
In all seriousness I have but a few comments about my gross match, which I lost. I don’t feel bad really. I was killing the ball today. Between the super hot conditions and hitting it pure, I was bombing shots way over the green. One uphill shot of 112 I hit my sand wedge 30 yards long, and no I didn’t blade it. On one hole I was 260 out and hit a hybrid over the universe. It must have gone 290.
The match today was between two players of almost exact same handicaps, so it should have been tight and it was. My crappy short game was to blame for losing a couple of holes and not winning a couple of others, but I still managed a 75. My opponent somehow did a Houdini impersonation, making pars from situations I would have guaranteed I’d make bogey.
The match was never more than one-up or one-down for the two of us all day, and the last four holes were all square. On the final hole I pulled my approach from 109 to a hillside left of the green, short-sided. I’m not sure even Phil Mickelson could have saved par from there, and I certainly did not. My opponent had an easy two-putt to win the match on the 18th hole.
I could be mad but I’m not. My achilles heel, short game, was the reason I didn’t win. Until I fix that, this is about as good as it is going to be.
Hitting those solid shots felt good, despite the loss.
Friday of last week I had the pleasure of competing in a 27-hole member/guest tournament with my dad at his great club Hidden Valley. I always jump at the chance to “hit the white spheroid” with my dad for a couple of reasons. First, he’s my dad and the time we spend together on the course is something I really enjoy. Second, his course is one of the best courses in the state, and was even ranked #1 at one time.
Hidden Valley Country Club Lakes Course – Par-3 6th – Aerial Photo by Tony Korologos
This 27-hole tournament over the years has been a tough one for us. It is a Ryder Cup-like format: 9-holes best ball, 9-holes scramble, 9-holes alternate shot. Historically we have done fine in all formats but the very pressure packed alternate shot. We’ve cracked into the money a few times but that’s about it.
Friday I brought a C- game. I shot my worst best ball in the history of our playing the event. Usually I’m good for even par or one-over. This time I flamed out with a 41. But my dad shined in that part, carrying my arse.
In the alternate shot he and I both had one terrible swing which cost the team badly. I hate doing that in alternate shot, leaving your partner in a bad situation.
In the scramble we only shot one-under…
Disgusted with our lame performance as a team, my dad and I didn’t even stick around to have a frosty beverage. We were the first to turn in our scores and laughed at being the “leader in the clubhouse.” When you are the first to turn in your card, you hold the lead!
Yesterday my dad called to inform me that while at the course to play, he was congratulated on the victory. As it turns out WE WON our flight! What a pleasant surprise which made my day.
Moral to the story: stick around and have a beer, just in case you won the tournament.
A gentlemen recently asked me a question which he wasn’t sure was etiquette related or rules related. The question is about playing order. He wanted to know if it is a rule that the person who won the previous hole goes first, or just etiquette. This is actually a really good question and there are two basic answers, one for stroke play and one for match play.
In stroke play it is common courtesy or etiquette for the person who shot the lowest score on the previous hole to go first. It is not a rule and if it speeds up play for other players to go first, in other words “ready golf,” then do it.
It is also common courtesy for the farthest player from the hole to go first but is also not a rule. In the interest of pace of play, or perhaps getting a tap-in putt out of the way of a longer putt, the closer player can and should go first. In my opinion “honors” is trumped by pace of play. Always go for the faster option!
Match play is a different animal than stroke play with regards to playing order. In match play the person who won the previous hole must go first. Further, the person farther from the hole must go first. If another player goes out of order, his opponent(s) may require that his shot be replayed.
The gentleman who asked the question also asked if a golfer who has the honor can “defer” playing first and make his opponent play first. The answer to this question is no.