The weather is changing here. The grass on the courses has slowed or stopped growing. When the courses aren’t covered in winter snow here in Utah and the grass is dormant, the lies in the fairways or anywhere there’s short grass, can be very tight.
Chipping with higher lofted wedges
I usually like to chip with my 56 degree wedge, put the ball back in my stance, close the face and hit a descending blow to get it running. If I need the ball to run less or carry more, I’ll use my lob wedge (60). But the tighter the lies and the rustier I get (from playing less due to the weather), the tougher these shots become to execute.
Chipping with mid-irons
Yesterday on the 6th hole (with my opponents pressing me I might add) I had one of these very tight lies. I had a tough tight lie and no green to work with. I was about 10-15 feet short of the green on this par-3, and there was a front pin. Having never even practiced this shot I grabbed my 8-iron and decided I’d just put a putting stroke on it. I figured the amount of loft on the club would get the ball in the air just enough to carry the ball over enough of the short grass, yet roll the ball like a putt when it got to the green. I assumed my putting stance and grip, choking down on the club to about where my normal putting grip would be on my putter.
My opponents watched in horror and amazement as the low shot bounced twice in the short grass, landed on the fringe and rolled just like a perfect putt straight to the hole. My pal Arnie dropped his putter on the ground and threw his hands up in the air as my 8-iron chip dropped center cut in the hole for birdie.
I turned to them and said “I guess I’ll be using that shot more.”
Later in the round on #11 I had a similar scenario. Once again I was just short of the green with a front pin. I hit the same shot with my 8-iron. I didn’t drain this one for birdie, but did leave myself an easy 1-footer to save par.
If the ground is smooth enough and you can roll the ball a bit around the greens, it may be easier to put a more pendulum-like stroke on a mid-iron rather than trying to make perfect contact with a higher lofted club. If you’re like me and sometimes have trouble chipping, try hitting some running shots with a lower lofted club and a putting stroke. It is very hard, almost impossible, to blade or hit this shot fat.
Today is the annual Hell Day Tournament at my local club. This is the last event of the year. The tournament was snowed out last week so today is the rescheduled day. I got this idea from a club I was in a few years ago. During Hell Day, we set the course up completely unfair, difficult, insane, nutty. As club president, I get to set the course up however I want. Very fun.
The tees can be anywhere. We’ve teed off of the front porch of the range shack, ladies’ tees, dirt roads dozens of yards from the regular tees, sidehill lies etc. On #10 every year we tee off in the grass by the clubhouse, about 175 yards behind the blue tees. It is a 350 yard drive to even get to the fairway and that landing area is 30 yards wide with trees on both sides. On #16 this year, we’re teeing off from a circle on a dead end street between 15 green and 16 tee. We bring in range mats for those sorts of lies.
Today’s tees include teeing off of #13 blacks to #12 green (par-3), teeing off #13 whites to #15 fairway (320 yards), teeing off #12 reds to #13 (par-5) etc.
On #18 today, a par-3, we’re putting two sets of clubs on the tee. Right handed players must tee off left handed, and left handed players must use right handed clubs.
Sometimes we’ll require players hit a pumpkin in the fairway before they can proceed to the green. We may require that their shots go IN a fairway bunker or greenside bunker before they can continue.
All of the greens have pins in the worst places possible, like in the middle of severe slopes. If you miss the putt, you’ll be 30 feet away. One year I 11-putted #14.
One green last year we made a hole which was about a foot wide. I heard guys saying they lipped out because they played their putts “right edge”??? DOH! On #15 the last few years we put several flags in the green. You can putt to whatever hole you want.
I’d like to play the whole course backwards one of these years. Every year we try to make it even more crazy.
I reaaaallly want to win this year. The trophy for the winner is mega cool.
I wish I could have spent a few hours writing up a great tribute to Payne Stewart, one which would do him justice.
Today marks the 10 year anniversary of his death in that strange accident on that private plane. I just spent a few minutes explaining to my lady who Payne Stewart was and darn near started crying as I showed her pictures of his fist pump and some youtube videos of him. I was especially somber when I told her about his 1999 U.S. OPEN win when he beat Phil Mickelson, then cupped Phil’s face in his hands and told him “you’re going to be a father.” Tissue please. Wow.
It would have been so great for Payne’s life and career to continue, rather than ending so suddenly. It would have been great to see how many more major championships he would have recorded in the last 10 years, and how many times he would have gone head to head with Tiger Woods. I doubt he would have succumbed to that fear other players had when they play against TW.
Six days ago I threw my back out. Last time I threw it out, it took two weeks for the pain and spasms to subside and my game was a wreck when I came back.
This week I tried my new inversion table (where you hang upside down like a bat) for the first time, and I’m back on the course already (yesterday) and in the ZONE. I really only felt pain for the first 1-2 days this time, compared to 13-14 last time. I really hope the decompression of the spine on the inversion table is the answer to the back problems…
Yesterday I played 11 holes and shot -3. I had 5 birdies, two on the last two holes. Then today I picked up right where I left off. I played the back nine again. I started out birdie, birdie, par, birdie, birdie. At that point I’d had NINE BIRDIES IN 16 HOLES! By the time I finished #15 and my eighteenth consecutive hole, I was at -7 for that stretch. I ended up -5 for my last 20 holes.
Winter is coming. In fact, it may have arrived on #16 today. It was warm earlier but the winds kicked up and it got cold, fast. Very cold.
I’ll have more info on the inversion table and what it is about, and hopefully many more birdies to brag about soon.