Happy 4th of July to all Hooked on Golf Blog patrons. Happy birthday to this great country, the USA. We may not be perfect, but the United States of America is still the best country on this planet.
I found this ball yesterday in the rough left of the 12th hole! A great find and even my usual gamer brand…
At the time my handicap was the absolute best I was playing with a group of eight guys, none of whom was higher than a 5-handicap. In the group there was a zero and a bunch of 1’s and 2’s. It was a tough group. If you didn’t bring your A-game, you had to make sure you brought your A-TM game. I really loved the competition level and intensity of those years, and I think playing in that group helped me improve and play at a high level, for an amateur. I was playing 4-5 times per week as well, which I’m sure helped. My handicap got as low as a 0.9.
Unfortunately that group dissolved. I still play with some of those guys, a time or two a year.
Fast forward 10-15 years to now. Because of where I am in life (translation: day job, wife, 3-year old, limited time), I can’t play 4-5 times per week. I’m only able to play two times, and perhaps a 3rd time if I’m lucky. Yes it sounds crazy that I say “only,” because many amateurs play once a week, once a month, or maybe a few times a year. I realize despite a 50% drop in rounds, I play more than probably 90% of amateur golfers. Playing less does not help my game. Winter around here in northern Utah hurts the game as well. Nothing hurts your feel and crispness as much as a six month frost delay.
But now that summer is here I’m past the spring rust phase. I’m also playing quite a bit right now. It’s not cold either. Many of the reasons or excuses I could use for not playing well are not useable. Up until about 1.5 weeks ago, I’ve struggled to break 80 with many rounds around 85. Why? If I knew that, I would fix it.
The last week and a half though, I’ve finally seemed to turn a corner. Rather than mid 80’s, I’ve got a 74, 76, and two nine hole rounds that come in at -2 and even. What happened? Did I suddenly become a better golfer? Did I change swings? Did I put a new driver into play? What?
So what is contributing to the better scores? I don’t feel like I’m hitting the ball much better, but I’m scoring better. I don’t feel like my abilities have suddenly changed. What has changed is my “playing environment.” I’ve changed from the casual buddy group to the more intense competitive match play and tournament rounds. Also played 18 with a different group a couple of days ago, all who hit the ball as far or farther than me and could clean my clock on any given day if I don’t bring the A-game. It seems that perhaps for a while I’ve been in a playing rut due to the group I’ve been in. All good chaps for sure, but I’ve gotten too comfortable in the group. I’m not focused. There are higher handicap players in the group as well. Perhaps there’s a bit of “playing to the level of the other players” going on. Perhaps being around a higher handicapper for round after round has caused me to lose focus in my own game. Try not to interpret that as an arrogant comment. Think of another individual sport like tennis. A high level tennis player may not improve or keep his skills in top shape playing an opponent who is not at the same level. Yes one could argue that another player’s game should not affect one’s own golf game and there could be some truth to that. But I’m generally the kind of player who plays better if I’m around better players.
So where does that put me if the above analysis is true? Part of what makes golf enjoyable is the camaraderie of playing with friends. Perhaps the approach should be to keep the serious golf on the schedule, and play the casual and less intense rounds with the buddies now and then too.
Or maybe all that is a bunch of nonsense and I’m just playing better now. It could just be the phase of the moon or because I put my left sock on first instead of the right one this past week. Wait, I think maybe the better play is because of better underwear scripting…
As I’ve mentioned several million times now, Kentwool makes the best golf socks in the world. There is no competition.
Love these unique golf driver head bottle openers. Perfect for dad to crack open frosty beverages while watching golf on TV.
I have yet to post my full review, but this is my gamer towel and it is fantastic.
This is my current gamer divot tool. Love the switchblade action, build quality, and the magnetic ball marker! Here’s the HOG preview.
The new Bridgestone Golf B330 series for 2016 is amazing. In the interest of time, you should be able to find these at any local golf store, or golf course pro shop.
This past week the HOG World Tour was in French Lick, Indiana to check out two courses from two very different and equally famous golf course architects, Pete Dye and Donald Ross. The Donald Ross Course was the first on the menu, and I loved the entree so much I went back through the buffet a 2nd and 3rd time.
The Donald Ross Course 10th hole (left) with the practice putting green in the foreground
This was one of the more challenging Donald Ross courses I’ve played due to the large amount of elevation changes and horizontal movement of the holes. And the greens were some of the most extreme I’ve ever putted. Putting or chipping from above the hole is nearly impossible.
Par-3 4th Hole – 240 Yards
I was able to play this fabulous old course (1917) three times. It’s ranked 71st in Golf Digest’s Top-100. I’ll be posting my full review of the experience soon, but wanted to do a quick share and a couple of photos prior to that. Stay tuned.
2016 has been a struggle for me on the golf course. Most of the spring I’ve been shooting some very high scores and trying to keep myself calm and “enjoy the walk.” Because I’ve been playing a lot of golf recently my game seems to be getting better, slightly. For the last few rounds my driving has gotten very long and accurate. The iron game is very good, putting solid. Short game improved from that of a 36 handicapper to maybe a 15. Yes, short game is my weak point and source of most of my frustration.
Coming into the 2016 City Am at Bonneville Golf Course I had just won a 27-hole tournament with my dad, and won a match a few days prior. I was feeling very confident in my driving and irons, and thought my short game was improved enough that it wouldn’t cost me too many shots.
Bonneville Golf Course Aerial Photo by Tony Korologos
This tournament, as I’ve said many times, is the one that I look forward most every year. I really value my performance and have thoughts of winning it, after placing 2nd a couple of years ago. I feel a lot of pressure, adrenaline, butterflies. It is difficult to get the ball airborne for the first tee shot. In fact, the first tee shot of the event I missed going out of bounds by about five feet. Since I don’t play a lot of tournaments I don’t have a lot of experience in dealing with that kind of pressure. That lack of experience doesn’t help. I find that nervous feeling very strange yet interesting. I feel like I’m strong mentally. I can’t believe I don’t have the mental strength to overcome having rubber arms that feel like they’re made out of lead. I’m sure more experience in the pressure of a real tournament would help me get used to it better.
So many factors and weird things happened this week. Temperatures jumped up big and the end of the 2nd round the temperature was 98 degrees. For the first time of the season my hands were sweating so much that I couldn’t keep them dry. Some of my grips, like on my driver, get slippery when wet. Try hitting a pressure shot when you can’t hold onto the club. So I wear a glove. I hate gloves. I only wear them when my hands are slipping. As a result, I think my accuracy suffered. My driving was not as good as normal, which put me into situations which brought bogey and double bogey into play. I’m talking about trees, bunkers, even snack bars. More on that later.
Shoe/Sock Scripting Malfunctions
I had some other problems too, in the shoe/sock department. I can laugh now but at the time I was not laughing. Read the next post for details on that. Needless to say, the pressure, sweaty hands, 95 degree temperatures, bad short game, wrong socks, blistered feet… all added up to my simply trying to eek into the prize money.
Highlight of the Tournament
This is surely the 2nd craziest par I’ve ever had. The first being one I made on the Road Hole in 2011.
I nutted an 8-iron on the 160 yard par-3 17th. It flew over the green and hit a downslope, rolling some 40-50 yards into a pile of sand in ground under repair near the snack shack. My nearest relief from the ground under repair left me an impossible situation. I was behind a wall of trees about 80 feet high, hitting up to an elevated green some 20 feet above my head. I could barely see the top of the flag and I could not go right at it. To top it off, my drop slowly moved from grass to a bare piece of dirt.
All I could do was try to punch a 7-iron into the hill and hope that it bounced onto the right half of the green, or off the front of the green. Then maybe I could chip and one-putt for a bogey. The situation had big numbers written all over it.
I chopped the 7-iron in a downward motion because of the dirt lie. The ball came off left of target and went right at one of the trees. It went right through a V in the tree, ticking some leaves. It then hit into the hill and bounced straight up into the air, right at the flag. I didn’t know they were watching, but the players behind me on the 4th tee saw it and clapped! I was left with about a 20 foot par-putt. I made the putt. It was probably the only putt over 15 feet I made all weekend.
I’m not sure how I managed that par. I think perhaps I had a little help. One of the trees behind 17 green has a plaque under it, with a dedication to an old friend named Jeff Dalebout. Jeff was a bouncer in the bar my rock band used to play at for many years. When his favorite X songs would come on, Jeff would jump up on stage and sing them with us. We became good buddies over the years. Along with being a bouncer, Jeff was one of the “night watermen” at Bonneville. For about the first 86 years the course existed, it had no automatic sprinklers. The night watermen would haul hoses all around the course and water it in the dark. Jeff and I played many rounds of hungover golf at Bonneville, after gig nights.
Jeff passed unexpectedly back around 2003 at a very young age. I tip my hat to him every time I walk by his plaque behind 17 green on the way to the 18th tee. I think he gave me a helping hand on Sunday. Thanks my old friend. You are missed.
Best Bud Caddies On Sunday
Speaking of old friends… My best buddy once told me the best things in life are “experiences.” If that’s true, Sunday’s round was one of the best things in life, and an experience I’ll never forget. My buddy Alan Nelson, who normally resides in Philly, was in town. He asked if he could caddie for me in the 2nd round. How cool is that?
Naturally I said yes as long as he understood the “three ups” in caddieing:
- Show up
- Keep up
- Shut up
I loaded my golf bag full of bricks and let him have at it. A fine job of caddying he did. Old Course caddie John Boyne would be proud. Alan did an even finer job of doing what he has been best at for years, being a great friend. He knew when to talk to me and when to leave me alone to cool off (like after I bladed a wedge across the 16th green).
What a great experience. I should find out if I’m in the money when I get to the course tomorrow. Rest assured my caddie will get his customary 10% of the take. I hope he doesn’t spend the whole $1.75 in one place.