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... the journey of a hacker making his way through tournaments with the Golfweek Amateur Tour in the hopes of bringing home some hardware.

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More peaks and valleys than a heartbeat readout...

Today was a nice day.  One of the nicest days in the last few months in terms of both temperature and lack of precipitation.  Because of that, I had to find a way to get out to the course.  I had played in a tournament on Saturday and a few things 'clicked' with me, so I was excited to get back out and see if I could put it together on the course rather than imagining it while taking slow motion swings in my living room.  

Anyway... there was a ton of promise early on.  Tee shots were solid... and my misses were just left of the fairway, which was a welcome change since I had been battling a fade/slice over much of the last 2-3 weeks.  Irons were, far and away, the best I've hit them since early October.  Everything had a nice little draw on it.  The things I had been practicing in my living room seemed to be good changes.  

Hole #1 - Par 4 - 355 Yards

I opened with a good drive into the middle of the fairway followed by an 8 iron from about 138 yards that I pulled left of the green.  Anxious to try and get it close, I flubbed my chip.  I then nearly holed the next chip for par but settled for a bogey from 3 feet.  

Hole #2 - Par 3 - 165 Yards

The pin was up front and we were into a slight breeze.  Still, I hit my 7 iron from the tee which is typically a 160 yard club for me.  It hit the green about 7 yards beyond the stick and finished just off the green.  My putt from the fringe hit something and popped straight up, taking all the speed off of it.  I still managed to jar the left-to-right putt from 16 feet for par.  

Hole #3 - Par 5 - 504 Yards

A solid tee shot drew slightly and finished just off the fairway in the left rough.  There is a big tree up the left side and I was still forever away, but I hit a low, running 3 wood that left me about 60 yards from the hole.  I then all but sh--ked a lob wedge that skidded off the right side of the green.  My chip didn't get close and I took 2 putts from 13 feet for bogey.

Hole #4 - Par 4 - 331 Yards

This was the first in a list of questionable decisions I made throughout the day.  This hole should either be a 4 iron or my 18 degree hybrid.  I hit 3 wood and tugged it a little left.  I got lucky and it finished to the left of the fairway bunkers that dot the left side.  I also had a pretty unobstructed look at the hole from about 90 yards.  My sand wedge hit the green and stuck.  The 14 footer for birdie was in the center of the cup but finished a roll short.  Tap in for par. 

Hole #5 - Par 4 - 389 Yards

This hole is difficult.  It's only 389 yards but for some reason, with the slight incline, it plays a LOT longer.  My drive was hit well and finished sitting on the 150 yard marker on the cart path.  I took my drop and was left with about 155 to the flag.  My 7 iron started slightly right of the hole then drew back, finishing on the left side of the green.  The 31 foot putt ran by a few feet and I was able to make the 4 footer coming back for par.

Hole #6 - Par 3 - 179 Yards

I believe it was playing the exact yardage today, although it was slightly downhill and into a breeze.  I hit a 6 iron 170 yards on average, and I knew I didn't want to be long, so I elected that club.  I hit a high, slightly drawing shot that landed on the green and didn't advance any.  From 34 feet, I lipped out for birdie and tapped in for another par.  

Hole #7 - Par 5 - 486 Yards

My tee shot into the breeze was solid and finished in a great position in the fairway.  I was left with about 225 yards to the stick.  I caught my 3 wood a little on the neck of the club and pulled it just a touch.  I was in the bunker front and left of the green.  I blasted out and nearly holed the putt, but it ran 12 feet past.  Another lip-out for birdie and a tap-in par.

Hole #8 - Par 4 - 397 Yards

This is listed as the #1 index hole on the course, but I love it.  I blasted a drive that again drew into the left rough.  I was blocked from going at the green by some overhanging limbs, so I tried to hook a 9 iron.  It started at the greenside trap and just stayed there.  I hit a decent shot out of there to about 4 feet, but it was a tricky, curling putt that I just didn't make a good stroke on.  Bogey.

Hole #9 - Par 4 - 342 Yards

I hit an awful tee shot here than I never saw.  Nobody else did either.  It didn't hit anything and it didn't find the pond up the left side... but I hit another to be safe.  That one found the fairway.  As we approached that one, we saw my original ball well back in the fairway.  I was about 175 yards away from the hole at that point.  I hit another high, drawing 5 iron that found the green.  A horrid first putt from 38 feet left me 6 feet for par, but I was able to make that.

So... the front nine was a resounding success.  It's the best 9 holes I've had in 3 months, give or take.  Take away a poor shot from 60 yards on the third hole and it had a chance to be my lowest 9 holes ever.  At any rate... a 39 was great and I felt great heading to the back.  

Hole #10 - Par 4 - 349 Yards

My tee shot with a 4 iron for position couldn't have been any better.  I very likely would have just dropped it in that spot if given an option.  It left me a pitching wedge from 130 yards, downhill and with the breeze.  I caught it well but didn't get 'all' of it... so it hit the front of the green.  As I began walking back to my bag, it began to trickle towards the false front.  Ultimately, it trickled off the green and just barely into a hazard.  I was able to play it from there and pitch to about 9 feet.  With the hole cut where it was... no putt was easy.  I proved that by needing 4 putts from just 9 feet.  Triple bogey.

Hole #11 - Par 4 - 401 Yards

My drive faded around the tree at the corner and finished just off the fairway.  The ball was a little below my feet and I made a poor swing with a 7 iron.  I topped it, basically.  From 65 yards, I hit a lob wedge that landed 2 feet to the right of the pin and sucked back to 12 feet.  My par attempt dipped low and I tapped in for bogey.

Hole #12 - Par 3 - 164 Yards

Things really started to take a turn here.  After watching 2 of my playing competitors put the ball in the water (a large pond runs all along the right side of this hole)... I started my ball at the hole and turned it away from the water.  I turned it too much and it finished to the left of the green.  I had a fairly easy pitch onto the green from that position, but I managed to push it right just a tiny bit.  That was enough to feed it off the green due to the false front.  I putted from the fringe but absolutely blasted the ball 10 feet past the hole which left me an ultra-fast putt downhill and down grain.  I never got it started on line and took a double bogey.

Hole #13 - Par 5 - 525 Yards

This is where I began struggling with my driver.  I started my ball left of my intended line and watched it draw well left.  On this hole, left is not good... but I did have an opening to try and punch the ball up the fairway to leave myself a wedge in.  I absolutely pured my shot but started it just a little right of where I wanted (maybe 2 feet off).  The ball slammed into a tree and kicked left and out of bounds.  My second attempt wasn't nearly as solid, but it made it through the window and into the fairway.  From about 160 yards, I hit a high 7 iron that found the green.  Unfortunately, it left me a very quick 17 footer which I was unable to make so I tapped in for another double bogey.

Hole #14 - Par 4 - 339 Yards

This is a hard dogleg to the left which requires a nice draw or a shot high enough to get over the tree guarding the corner.  Another poor choice here as I tried to hit a 3 wood instead of hitting a 4 iron that I KNOW I can draw around that corner.  The 3 wood was tugged and clattered around the tree before being spit out well back.  I hit a wedge back to the fairway and then made my worst iron swing of the day with a 6 iron that never got close to the green.  When all was said and done... I took a triple bogey.

Hole #15 - Par 5 - 462 Yards

Another hole where position is more important than distance.  Knowing this... I STILL elected to hit driver.  It was left, low and hooking... and it found the hazard.  Instead of being smart and hitting a 7 iron up to the right of the fairway traps, I tried to hook a 4 iron low and under the trees.  I hit it low... but it stayed right and went out of bounds.  Attempt number 2 was fine... then I hit a wedge onto the green and two-putted from 20 feet for another triple bogey.  I was beginning to feel a little sick about how I was playing, so I had a pep-talk with myself heading to the next tee. 

Hole #16 - Par 4 - 309 Yards

Another big dogleg to the left that requires position... another poor decision.  Typically, a good 4 iron leaves a low iron into the green.  Although this hole is listed at 309 yards, it's certainly a little longer than that.  I decided that I needed to get aggressive... so I hit my driver.  I got lucky as it skimmed past the tree and drew around the corner.  I was left with only 75 yards to a tricky green.  My lob wedge is a 75 yard club... but I hit this one 95 yards.  I hit a pretty good chip that just missed the cup but then trickled out to 16 feet.  The par putt slipped by and I tapped in for a bogey.

Hole #17 - Par 3 - 138 Yards

With the breeze into our faces here, I kept going back and forth between an 8 iron and a 9 iron.  I ultimately decided on the 9 iron, which was the correct club... but I left the face open and put myself in a nearly impossible position.  I was on a slight downslope, below the green, with a bunker between my ball and the hole.  I got the ball up onto the green but watched as it trickled down the other side and into a trap there.  I blasted out to 14 feet but couldn't make that so I tapped in for another double bogey.  I was now +13 over my last 6 holes.

Hole #18 - Par 4 - 312 Yards

Mercifully, the last hole was finally here.  Uphill all the way... this 312 yard hole plays more like 375.  My tee shot was blasted and dead center of the fairway... finally.  I was left with 97 yards to a flag that was all the way back on the top tier.  My wedge as low and scooted past the hole and into the back fringe.  I was left with a slippery little putt from there that I hit beautifully and left myself a 4 footer.  I made that for par to close out a horrible back side.

The back nine was awful from start to finish.  I did very little correctly throughout and it showed in a final total of 53 on that side.  The 39 - 53 = 92 was pretty sickening to look at on the card.  Although I'm sure I've probably had a larger front-to-back difference in the past... this was the worst in recent memory.  I actually had to add the back nine score multiple times because I couldn't believe I was +17 on that side.

It's back to indoor practice for the next few days as the weather is supposed to be pretty ugly until Friday... but I'm looking forward to getting back out to the course for some redemption.  I feel like, despite the horrible back nine yesterday, my game is actually pretty close.  Some tweaks here and there and I'd like to believe I may finally break that 80 barrier!

Until then...





Realizing What's Typical vs. What's an Anomaly

Let's just put it out there.  I'm a 14+ handicap.  With that in mind, it's not all that often that I go home from a round of golf feeling like it's just a matter of time until I 'put it all together' and post something around even par for a round.  In September, during a shotgun tournament, I played the front nine of a course in even par... and the back nine in +9.  But... like I said, it was a shotgun event and the front nine was somewhere around the middle portion of my round.  It was nice to look at the scorecard afterward and realize that I shot even par on that side, but... it was still even par.  My career best has been an 81 on 3 different occasions.  

Over the last few weeks, however, things have been coming together nicely for me.  I managed one of those 81's during a match in which my partner and I blitzed our opponents 7 & 5 the Saturday before last... and then on Friday of this past week, a buddy and I went to play a practice round at a tournament venue and I posted an easier-than-it-seemed 82.  I had a handful of bad holes that day, but otherwise... I was hitting a lot of fairways and a larger-than-average number of greens.  

Following that round... I really felt that maybe some of the good things were being memorized by my body.  If I missed a green, I left myself in reasonable position to make a par putt.  I managed to convert 5 of 8 such opportunities.  I felt good about how I had pitched and chipped the ball.  The bottom of my swing was easy to find and it resulted in not only a good score, but some pretty good thoughts to fall back on.  

I didn't get to touch a club since then until this morning.  I set up a round as a single at my home course.  I wanted to get out and hit some balls on the course, so... I figured I'd play and try to post a score.  Unlike the round a few days prior... all of my feel and touch was gone.  

On the first hole, my approach was short and right of the green.  There was a slope of about 3 feet in front of me to climb and it took me 3 shots from there to get the ball on the green.  Chunky, chunky, chunky.  I made a double.  

After a birdie on the 4th hole, I was facing a shot of about 75 yards on the 5th hole.  I had already struggled on the hole, hitting a poor drive and a poor approach, so... I wanted to get somewhat close.  Typically, that 75 yard shot is in my wheelhouse.  I hit it so ridiculously fat that I actually laughed out loud.  I managed a good pitch shot following that and salvaged a bogey, but... man.  

I missed a simple 3 foot putt on the 6th for double and ended up with a triple.  

On the 7th hole, the wheels came off.  A poor drive left me with little room to do anything but punch a 4 iron into the fairway.  Luckily, this was a short par 5 and I had only 90 yards to the hole.  No trouble in front of me and the pin was in a very accessible spot in the middle of the green.  Just like on the 5th hole, I hit a shot where I'm pretty sure if I looked hard enough, I could see some of the Earth's crust in my divot.  I still had 70 yards to go, and I bladed the ball over the green and out of bounds.  A drop and another pitch came up short.  My chip from there was also heavy and I two-putted for a quadruple bogey 9.  

I had similar instances on the 8th and 9th holes where I just wasn't able to get anything going.  Overall, my short game cost me about 8 strokes on the front side where I posted a 50.  Even marginal play from those positions would have given me a 45.  

Now I'm sitting here shaking my head at how different the feelings after the last 2 rounds are.  I was on a high after Friday's round.  Today, I'm mentally destroyed.  I want to go back out and figure it out, but... I won't be able to do that until Thursday, so... here I sit, left to wonder what I did so differently.  

All this brings me to the title of my post here.  Instead of getting excited about that one round where things went right... I need to learn a lesson from it and carry it over to my other rounds.  I can't get excited about that 'once in awhile' round until I'm able to repeat it a few times in succession.  Those rounds are my anomalies.  I'm better off realizing that than going out and coming home disappointed about a 93 that 'could have been' an 85.  

It wasn't an 85.  It was a 93. Any of my 81's 'could have been' 78 or better.  They weren't.  I've got to EARN consistently better scores.  They're not going to come just because I had a decent score the round before.  Today taught me a lesson.  I'm hoping that, mentally, it makes me a stronger player and drives me to improve on the little things that all go into posting better scores.  





Quieting the Golf Geek

For as long as I've played this game (going on 24 years now), every year, there comes a point where my inner golf geek gets pent up and needs to get out.  When I say my inner golf geek, I'd guess that many of you who visit sites like TST know what I'm talking about.  He's the part of me that just obsesses over the game.  He forces me to think about golf from the time I wake up until the time I finally fall asleep for the night... and even then, there are times I dream about it.  

When I lived up north, it would typically start around the beginning of February.  I'd start itching to play... watching non-stop coverage on the Golf Channel... visiting golf sites multiple times a day... finding any day that was at least 40 degrees or warmer just so I could run to the range and hit some balls beneath the heat lamps.  I hated the fact that snow was still on the ground and golf was very likely 2 months or more away from actually being something I could do.  My golf geek was defeated, for the most part, by Mother Nature.  

Now, I live in South Carolina.  Golf season is never ending.  Still... I found myself 'burned out' after the most recent season.  I had played in about 20 tournaments (and another 60 or so rounds outside of those), finding myself in contention often and even managing to win a pair of them.  By the time the year end tournament was over... my golf geek was exhausted and I needed a break.  I even told my wife as much.  She was happy that she was going to have her husband back, even if she knew it was temporary.  If she knew HOW temporary, she probably wouldn't have been quite as happy.

It lasted all of 5 days.  I was back on the course playing a match the very next weekend.  Since then (just over a month ago)... I've gone back into full golf geek mode.  The TV in my bedroom hasn't changed from the Golf Channel in at least 3 weeks now.  I don't believe there is a course vlog on YouTube that I haven't watched.  My clubs sit in the corner taunting me until I give in and take them out.  I've taught myself how to hit a hybrid and my 3 wood again which excites me and drives my desire to be on the course.  I've got the urge to play a money match any and every day of the week.  Alas... the majority of my golfing buddies have put the sticks in the garage for a bit.  I'm left to go out and challenge myself.  

I need to suppress my golf geek.  I've got to find a way to calm him down until tournament season rolls around again at the beginning of February... give me at least a month to recuperate.  I need to ignore him when he turns my head longingly towards the clubs in the corner.  I've got to stop him from taking me into my closet to stare at my golf shoes.  I need to learn to close my browser when he opens up the golf shopping sites... change the station when he turns on the Golf Channel... drop my phone when he picks it up to text my golfing buddies who have had enough of me urging them to get out for a round.  

He's a junkie who feeds off the rush felt when pounding drives off the tee... crisply hitting an iron... blasting balls out of bunkers... sticking 40 yard pitch shots to tap in range... dropping putts into the cups... and interacting with other golfers and their inner golf geeks.  

It's the holiday season... a time when I'm supposed to be thinking about seeing the kids' faces when they open their gifts on Christmas morning.  Instead, my golf geek has me thinking about the fact that my daughters are getting their own sets of clubs this year so they can join my son and I on the course.  I'll always have a foursome for my golf geek to torment.  

I've contemplated professional help... but when I think of those words, my golf geek starts thinking of lessons!  Medication?  He thinks of Crown and ginger ale in the 19th hole.  Getting away?  He wants to drive to Florida for some rounds on Disney World property.  I need to make it stop!

Well... maybe not.  Maybe I just need to give in and let him run things for awhile.  After all... he did get me to move down here.  Perhaps this was his plan all along?  





The Ocean Course at Kiawah - Like a 10 Round Fight

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have my wife tell me to go ahead and book a trip to Kiawah Island to play in a Golfweek Amateur Tour event there.  Her only stipulation was that I needed to rend a 2 bedroom villa on the resort so her and the kids could come with me and enjoy some time at the beach.  


I booked the trip only 9 days before the tournament, so I spent the next 9 days doing nothing but thinking about it all.  I did my homework on the courses we were going to be playing (Osprey Point and The Ocean Course).  I played countless rounds on The Ocean Course via the WGT Golf app on my phone.  I cleaned my clubs... then cleaned them again.  I cleaned out my bag and made sure it was organized.  I sent numerous text messages to my golf buddies who would also be attending.  I set aside the shirts I'd be wearing for that weekend and made sure they were clean and wrinkle free.  I cleaned off my spikes and marked my golf balls... and then I still had 8 days to wait.  

The anticipation was excruciating yet exhilarating.  I bored my wife to tears with details about the courses that she couldn't have cared less about.  I went to sleep each night thinking about the shots I wanted to play and the holes I was most looking forward to.  I dreamed of birdies and had nightmares about triple bogeys.  

When Friday finally rolled around, I tried to sleep a little later.  I was off that day, but my wife had to work until 2pm.  I woke up and made sure everything was packed... and then I watched the clock.  It seemed to take forever.  Finally, I got the text message from my wife that she was leaving work.  I told the kids to get ready.  I made sure they had used the bathroom, had on their sandals and then I told them to sit on the steps by the front door waiting.  When my wife walked in, we were already walking out!

Friday night at the resort was beautiful.  We headed over to the Sanctuary Hotel for a buffet dinner at the Loggerhead Grill.  Afterwards, we walked on the beach for a bit and then when my golf buddies started to arrive, we left and met one of them for drinks.  We killed time talking about how excited we were and then, realized it was getting late and we had an early start.  

I know I don't need to tell you golfers this, but... trying to sleep that night was more difficult than trying to sleep as a kid on Christmas Eve.  Even after taking some Aleve PM pills to try and help with getting to sleep, it was a restless night.  I had set my alarm for 6:15 the following morning, but I was up by 5:15.  I got ready, ate breakfast and then waited to be picked up.  

When we arrived at Osprey Point, it was beautiful.  We walked past the practice green towards the range and I had commented on how perfect the practice green looked.  It was nicer than any green on any course I had played before.  The range was pristine.  The clubhouse was the type of clubhouse I had always dreamed of seeing with a huge patio on the back overlooking the 10th hole and the practice range.  There were gators of varying sizes in the pond beneath the patio.  I loved every bit of what I was seeing.  

When we started at 9am... I had aspirations of playing well enough to be in contention.  We played 6 holes prior to play being halted by some pretty nasty lightning and heavy rain.  Through those 6 holes, I was already +8... and that included a birdie.  We sat around in the clubhouse for 2.5 hours waiting for the weather to clear.  We enjoyed some really good lunch at the Cherrywood BBQ & Ale House at the course while we waited, and eventually... it was time to head back out.  

The sun came back out and was burning off the rain, which made it extra humid.  Again, we got about 6 holes played before we were called off the course for more dangerous weather.  I had managed to play those 6 holes in another +8... so I was sitting at +16 while the leader, at that point, was hovering around +4.  I knew I was going to have to do something crazy-special to have any shot.  I figured I wanted to be somewhere around 7 shots from the lead heading into the final round if I was going to make a comeback.  During this delay, which lasted another 2 hours, there was a lot of talk about the round ending and having to finish where we stood.  A lot of guy didn't want that to happen, including myself.  Luckily, we were able to get back out on the course around 6:15pm.  

For the final 6 holes, I actually played fairly well.  I played those holes in +3 to finish at +19.  Going into the round, my goal was a 90.  I finished at 91.  The leader, at that point, had shot an 80, so I was 11 strokes off the lead.  Relieved that we had finally finished the round, we met up with our wives and headed to dinner that night.  We actually ended up at the same spot we went the night before, King Street Grill.  We enjoyed our time out and then headed back to try and sleep before the REAL course the next day.  

Again... sleep was difficult to come by.  I woke up that morning and woke my son who wanted to walk the course as a spectator while we played.  We got ready, packed up the car so my wife wouldn't have to do it when she woke up (because we were leaving right after the round) and headed outside to wait for our ride to the course.  

Once we arrived, everything from the moment we pulled up to the bag drop until the moment we left the course was absolutely outstanding.  We turned the corner from around the clubhouse and were greeted by the sight of the Atlantic Ocean's waves rolling in towards the range and the practice green.

After some warming up, my son and I walked over to the clubhouse and sat on some of the chairs there for a few minutes to just relax and take in the views.  When it was finally time to go and make our way out to the course, we headed over to our carts where we were introduced to our forecaddie, Robbie.  My son walked along the beach to get to the 15th tee, where we would be starting.  When we arrived... it all became real.  I recognized the hole from playing it so many times on my phone.  

Over the course of the next 5+ hours, I was repeatedly punched in the gut by this course.  Shots that I thought were going to be nearly perfect found their way into valleys short of the greens.  Putts that I hit exactly where I wanted missed.  The wind was unlike anything I had played in before.  Holes 15 through 4 played with the wind at our backs.  It meant taking less club and trying to land just on the front of greens.  Holes 5 through 13 played directly into the wind.  When I say wind, I don't mean a 5 MPH wind.  I'm talking about a steady 15 MPH, sometimes with gusts to 25 MPH wind.  Drives that I had hit on the screws into the wind didn't clear 215.  The longest drive I hit on those holes was 221 yards.  It was a ball that, from experience, I know on a flat course with no wind would have gone 270.  The sun didn't hide all day, and it was a 93 degree day with a ton of humidity.  I did my best to keep cool with cold towels from my cooler and drinking a bottle of water every 2 holes.  

Still... by the time we got to the 14th hole, our final of the day (and the hole which I was least looking forward to)... I was exhausted.  I stood on that par 3 tee needing a 5 to break 100 (which was my goal heading into the day).  All day, I had played a fade.  The forecaddie told me to aim at the right side of the green and play my fade and the wind would hold it there.  I knew that left was death because of the huge (and that's an understatement) trap to the left of the green.  I hit a solid 7 iron that started on my line and then got carried by the wind directly into the grass face of that trap.  When we got to it, I had trouble finding it and then playing it was just as difficult.  I did my best, but the ball hit the lip and rolled down to the bottom, just shy of the actual sand.  From there, I hit a shot up onto the green, but it carried a bit too far and trundled down over the back.  My pitch back up ran to the edge of the green and I needed to make that from about 20 feet to shoot 99.  My putt died and dropped left at the hole, staying out by less than an inch.  I tapped in for a 6 to shoot and even 100.  

This course tops most lists as the toughest course in the world.  I played it from the 'Kiawah' tees rated 70.9 / 132 and playing at 6202 yards.  On the scorecard, the 'Tournament' tees are rated 77.3 / 144 and play at 7356 yards.  From the plates at the back of the course where the 2012 PGA Championship was played from, it's rated 79.2 / 155 and play at 7873 yards.

I'm in no way someone that would call myself a 'good' golfer.  My current handicap index is 16.0 and I usually post scores in the 91 - 93 range.  I can dip into the mid-80 range from time-to-time... but I'm also capable of putting up a triple-digit score when my game is off.  My game wasn't off on Sunday... it just wasn't on.  I hit 10 of 14 fairways, which is FAR above average for me.  My bigger problem was playing off the Seashore Paspalum grass from around the greens.  The wind had a consistent effect on my approach shots which meant I was playing a lot of shots from around the greens and I simply didn't play them well.  

When the round was all over and we arrived back at the clubhouse, my wife and daughters were waiting for me.  I checked in with a couple of my buddies (they shot 98 and 99) and my wife made the comment that we all looked like we just got beat up.  I felt like it, too.  I don't know how the professionals do it for 4 straight days and from 1600 yards further back.  It was an extremely humbling experience, and one that I'm hoping makes me better down the road.  I'm already making plans to go back again next year if the tour returns.  

Despite the cost (it was easily a $2000 weekend between the golf, lodging, food and gas)... I will tell anybody that asks that it was worth every single penny.  If you're a golfer and you're looking for a bucket-list course... this is it.  The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort is the real deal!

Until next time...





6/25/16 & 6/26/16 - Charlotte Area Golfweek Amateur Tour - The Club at Irish Creek (Kannapolis, NC)

I've been playing tournaments in some form or fashion for a number of years.  Some have been full handicap... others have been 80% handicap... some match-play... some stableford... and some have been flighted, like what the Golfweek Amatuer Tour does.  I enjoy that format because it makes me have to work for it.  My index, right now is an even 16.  This puts me right near the middle of the C Flight index scale.  That means that a good round won't be enough for me to win... I'll need a great round.  

For these multi-day tournaments, it means I'll need to be on for more than just a single round.  I've played a decent number of multi-day tournaments throughout the years and I almost always ruin my chances on the first day.  Below, I recap both days of the tournament.  You'll see that stupid mistakes quickly add up to kill my chances.  Maybe one of these days, I'll learn to play smart and give myself a shot.  
Scorecard and Game Golf Links Below   Let's see... this is now the 7th multi-day tournament I've played in with the Golfweek Amateur Tour (including the three-day National Championship).  In 5 of the previous 6 events, I've shot myself out of contention on the first day.  I was bound and determined to not let that happen this time around... especially seeing as I was playing with the points leaders because I was in the top 4 heading into this tournament. 

Spoiler alert!!! 

I shot myself out of contention on the first day again. 

I don't know why I continue to play so poorly during these mutli-day events, but it's becoming a habit now... and a habit that is progressively becoming more annoying as it continues. 

As with other major reviews... I'm not going to do a hole-by-hole recap.  Instead, I'm going to break it down into highlights and lowlights.  This saves me the trouble of remembering exactly how many times throughout the 2 days I sucked... and saves you the trouble of reading about how many times throughout the 2 days I sucked. 

One thing I wanted to make note of is the fact that, at the last minute, our tees were changed.  In the previous rounds played there last year, we had always played from the blue tees (6489 yards).  On Friday afternoon, when pairings were posted, it was switched and we were now playing the white tees (5867 yards).  From a scoring standpoint, this would usually only help me out... but from a competitive standpoint, it hurt because that brought a lot of the 'short but consistent' players into things.  In a 24 player field, having a length advantage was something that I was counting on a little bit... but, with the change, I knew that brought every player from the field into contention.

Anyway... it's all below for you to review as you wish.
  Round 1 Scorecard Round 1 Game Golf Link Round 2 Scorecard Round 2 Game Golf Link
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Out 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Total   4 4 3 4 4 5 4 3 4 35 4 4 4 5 5 3 4 4 3 36 72 Day 1 5 6 3 5 3 6 5 5 5 43 6 6 6 7 5 4 7 6 3 50 93 Day 2 5 5 5 4 7 5 5 3 4 43 7 5 6 8 5 4 5 5 3 48 91   I arrived on Saturday full of hope.  I was to the course more than 2 hours early.  I spent a good 40 minutes on the range getting things 'worked out' and then spent another 30 minutes on the putting green.  In between, I spent some time relaxing and chatting with some of my fellow competitors.  By the time we were set to tee off... I was ready to go.  I was in group 13A, which meant I opened with back-to-back par 5 holes.  By 1pm... the first tee shot was in the air and we were off.   Round 1 Highlights   - There wasn't a whole lot to pick from as far as highlights are concerned, but there were a few things that stood out.  On #18, I hit a near perfect 7 iron from the tee that settled about 18 feet behind the hole.  Unfortunately, this began a series of putts that I would leave short throughout the tournament, so I wasn't able to convert the birdie, but I did leave myself a tap-in par.

- On #5, which is a downhill par 4, I hit a laser of a drive that finished about 2 yards from the front of the green.  My eagle attempt from off the green ran past the hole, but I was able to make the 7 footer coming back for my first (and only) birdie of the tournament. 

- For my final highlight... my tee shot on #7 was an absolute bomb.  After missing a simple 4 footer for par on the previous hole, I was a bit agitated and took it out on the ball.  It took off like a rocket from the tee and ended up 305 yards from where it began.  Unfortunately, I still found a way to bogey the hole with an ugly three-putt, but... the tee shot was by far my best of the weekend.   Round 1 Lowlights   - Things started out ugly for me as I pulled my opening tee shot on the 13th hole, failed to execute a hook around a tree and ultimately ended up with an opening double bogey after a series of mistakes. 

- On #16, I hit a pretty poor 4 iron from the tee and then hit an equally poor (fat) 4 iron from the fairway which found a downhill lie in the bunker to the left of the green.  It took 2 swings to get the ball out of that bunker and another from the rough just to find the green.  This all led to a triple bogey on the most difficult hole on the course.

- I tried to play smart on #2, so I hit a 4 iron from the tee.  It started out perfect and then caught a little bit of a breeze that pushed it slightly to the right.  If I had hit it just 4 feet longer, it would have been fine.  Instead, it caught the bunker.  It took me 2 swings to get it out from there as my 7 iron hit the lip and came back in... so I blasted out with a wedge instead.  All this led to a double bogey on one of the easier holes on the course. 

- Things were pretty good from there until the 10th tee.  I had a few ups and downs, but for the most part... I was happy with how I was playing.  On the final 3 holes (#10, #11 and #12)... I made mistake after mistake after mistake.  A decent tee shot on #10 put me in good position.  I slightly tugged a 5 iron and then pitched on... but a three-putt from 16 feet led to a double.  I pulled my tee shot on #11, hacked out, hit a poor 8 iron and then blasted out of a greenside bunker and couldn't salvage bogey from 16 feet, so I settled for another double.  On #12, which was my final hole, I tugged my tee shot, hit a tree trying to punch out, finally did get the ball out, put it on to 17 feet and took 2 putts from there to close with a third consecutive triple.   Round 1 Recap   So... things began poorly for me in the opening stretch of holes as I played the first 5 holes in +8 (including a triple and 2 doubles).  In the middle part of my round, I really started to get things moving in the right direction as I played the next 8 holes in +5 (including a birdie and 2 pars).  The real problem was at the end of my round.  I played holes 8 through 12 in double - bogey - double - double - double to finish +9 over my final 5 holes of my round. 

Going into the round, I pretty much knew that I needed to 'survive' 13 through 17 and I needed to play pretty solid on 18 through 8.  I was up in the air about the last 4 holes (9 through 12) because they're not overly difficult... but there is plenty of trouble to find.  Unfortunately, I made the much more difficult than they actually were and that killed my round. 

I shot a 93 with no penalties... and the leader was at 81.  Going into the round, my goal was to be right around 86.  I was just about on track to do that until my struggles at the end of the round.  I knew that I had no shot going into round 2 but I was still hopeful that I could turn things around and post something really good to move myself up the standings and pick up as many points as possible.     Round 1 Stats   Score - 93 Penalty Strokes - 0 Putts - 38 Fairways - 6 of 14 Greens in Regulation - 4 of 18 Up and Downs - 2 of 9 Sand Saves - 0 of 2   As has been the case with these multi-day tournaments, the second day began with much less anticipation.  I still wanted to post a good score so I could pick up as many points as possible, but... it was still going to be a fairly meaningless round.  I began this round on the 16th tee and I was determined to get off to a much better start than the day before.   Round 2 Highlights   - As mentioned, I wanted to get off to a better start.  My goal was to play 16, 17 and 18 in +2, if possible.  I ended up doing just that.  After a poor tee shot to start, I salvaged a bogey on the 16th.  I killed my drive on the 17th, but then left my wedge just short.  i was unable to get up & down from just in front of the green, so settled for a bogey there before making par on the 18th.   - I managed to make par on the 4th and 6th holes... but what really made my front nine nice was closing it out with pars on the 8th and 9th holes.  On #8, I hit a wedge to the front of the green and then just missed a birdie from 27 feet, tapping in for par.  On #9, I hit a decent drive and a fairly poor 8 iron, but still found the green in regulation on one of the more difficult holes we play all year.  From 60 feet, I hit a nice little putt to about 2 feet and tapped in for another par to end the front side with a 43.     Round 2 Lowlights   - The way to play this course is to survive the back and score on the front... especially the first 5 holes of the front.  I failed to do that... miserably.  I made bogey on 1 and 2... double on 3... par on 4... and then an ugly triple on 5.  That meant I played the easiest holes on the course in +7.  There was no way that was going to be a good thing.

- As with Round 1... things really began to fall apart on the back.  On #10, I decided to bump a driver into the fairway... only to watch it run through the fairway and into the hazard.  I had a play at the ball, but instead of being smart and playing it back out to the right and into the fairway, I tried a hero shot that resulted in the ball going down into the hazard and a penalty stroke.  Ultimately, I made triple there.

- At #11, I popped up a 3 wood and then decided to be smart and lay up with a 7 iron.  That left me a full 7 iron to the green, which I wiped right and into a greenside trap.  I blasted out from there and sunk a 7 footer for bogey, but... the damage had been done.

- The next 2 holes pretty much ruined my round.  On the 12th, my drive went right and ended up next to a bush just right of the fairway.  I hacked a 6 iron into the fairway, and then flubbed a wedge before hitting a decent wedge to about 13 feet.  I failed to make the bogey putt and settled for double.  On the 13th, I blew my tee shot way right and never found it.  My provisional was killed, but even from there, I made a mess of the hole and ended up with a triple.   Round 2 Recap   Sometimes, I feel like rounds are better than they are.  In this round, I knew from my 4th hole on that it was going to be a rough round.  I never managed to get anything going and struggled, mightily, to keep my mind in it.  Once I made a mess of the 5th hole, I was just hanging on and trying to make it through the round.  It just seemed like one of those rounds that I knew were going to be a problem and I couldn't find a way to stop bad things from happening.   Round 2 Stats   Score - 91 Penalty Strokes - 2 Putts - 34 Fairways - 2 of 14 Greens in Regulation - 6 of 18 Up and Downs - 1 of 4 Sand Saves - 1 of 4   Tournament Stats   Score - 184 Penalty Strokes - 2 Putts - 72 Fairways - 8 of 28 Greens in Regulation - 10 of 36 Up and Downs - 3 of 13 Sand Saves - 1 of 6   At the end of the 2 days, I finished 19th out of 24 players in C Flight, marking the second major this season in which I've finished 19th.  It wasn't a good tournament for me, and it certainly wasn't what I was expecting heading into it since I had been playing fairly well.  
After this tournament, I spoke to my wife and we decided to take a weekend trip down to Kiawah Island for the Southern Regional Tournament which will be played on the Osprey Point and Ocean Courses at Kiawah.  Although I'm only eligible for 80% of half of the allowable points (maximum of 360 points)... I'm eligible to win the trophy, money and free entry into the National Championship in October.  I'll be leaving the clubs in the living room for at least 9 days... and then the week before Kiawah, I'll spend some time on my short game.

I'm excited about the trip to Kiawah and I'm counting down the days (especially now that it's less than 3 days away).  Definitely looking forward to playing the Ocean Course!   Until then...




6/13/2016 - Charlotte Area Golfweek Amateur Tour - River Run Country Club (Davidson, NC)

Starting last year, I began keeping a blog of the majority of my rounds.  I'd kept it on Blogger, but it got very little (if any) traffic.  I figure, as this is my online golf home, I'd just begin keeping it here instead.  Below is the entry from my latest tournament (and my first ever tournament win) play on Monday, 6/13/2016.
  Scorecard Link - 6/13/2016  Game Golf Link - 6/13/2016
Nearly 23 years... that's how long I've been playing this game.  I have no idea on the number of rounds I've played in that time.  I know it's not as many as others who are lucky enough to play multiple times each week... but I also know that it's a high enough number that I can't even guess.  In all those years, I've been playing competitive golf in some form or another, for most of them.  I started playing on my high school golf team. I believe that in the 3 seasons I played with that team, we won a single match.  None of us were very good... and our 'coach' was a guy who was just there for the free golf.  We were never instructed... just given balls and tee times and told to have fun.  I believe that's what led me to my love for the game because I never felt pressure... I was just having fun. 

Well... after high school, I got away from the game for a few years before returning and immediately playing in a club that played a pretty heavy tournament schedule.  I did that for 2 seasons before it became too expensive.  I then switched my focus to county tournaments and club championship play for awhile.  I then got into another club that played tournaments and match play.  I did that for another 2 seasons and decided it wasn't the right mix for me.  When we moved to the Charlotte area, I found the Golfweek Amateur Golf Tour.  I knew I wanted to play, but I waited until 2015 to join.  I played every tournament but maybe 2 or 3 that year and I knew I was 'home'. 

On Sunday night, I was texting with some friends from the club and mentioned how I hadn't won a single tournament in all the years I'd been playing.  I've come close... and on one occasion, I even placed first... but because I was in a verification period, my win didn't count.  Still... I hadn't won an event... but I was feeling good and predicted that I just may turn it around the next day at River Run Country Club. 

I was right.  After almost 23 years and a countless number of tournaments and other events played... I FINALLY earned my first victory on June 13, 2016!

The details of my round are below.   Hole #15 - Par 4 - 375 Yards   One of the nice things about this day was that the tour director had us playing from a really short set of tees that measured just about 6000 yards total.  I knew this would allow me to keep the ball in play and hopefully eliminate big scores from my scorecard.  On this tee, I elected to hit driver since I had been hitting it pretty well on the range.  I didn't realize there was trouble I could reach... but it didn't matter because my tee shot was directly on my target line.  This left me about 110 yards to the hole.  I hit a wedge that finished a little off target and then chipped to about 5 feet.  Unfortunately, I couldn't convert that par attempt and opened with a bogey.
Hole #16 - Par 4 - 370 Yards   The toughest hole on the course didn't really have any reason why it should have been labeled as such.  I made it tougher than necessary when I pulled my tee shot and watched it hook into oblivion.  I hit a provisional that finished through the end of the fairway and I ended up playing that one as we never found my original ball.  From about 115 yards, I hit a pitching wedge that landed on the left side of the green.  I needed 2 putts from 25 feet and I posted a double bogey.   Hole #17 - Par 3 - 166 Yards   The hole was actually playing about 155 yards and I knew a full 7 iron would be too much, so I elected to try and fade the ball a bit to take some distance off.  The shot came off exactly as I saw it, but my shot landed 2 feet shy of being perfect.  Instead, the ball sat at the front edge of the green.  I hit a nice little chip that left me a tap in par.   Hole #18 - Par 5 - 467 Yards   From the tee here, my front foot slipped a little bit but it didn't hurt me as my ball found the left side of the fairway.  With a carry of about 200 yards being required from this spot, I elected to lay it out to the right with a 7 iron.  This left me a 91 yard shot up a hill to the pin tucked way back.  I hit a really good wedge shot from there which finished on the fringe.  I putted from there to about 4 feet and I was able to convert the putt from there for another par.     Hole #1 - Par 4 - 332 Yards   I came to a hole which took driver out of my hands.  I hit a hybrid from this tee that found the left rough.  My ball was in a tough position on an slope which had the ball above my feet and on an incline.  I hit a pretty decent wedge from there that found the green.  From 66 feet, I hit a beautiful putt that nearly went in but finished 2 feet away, leaving another easy tap-in for par.     Hole #2 - Par 5 - 475 Yards   I hit a decent drive here up the left side, but it finished in the rough and behind a tree.  I didn't really have much of a shot, so I decided to hit a 5 iron up the right side.  I made good contact and the grass closed the face of my club a bit, so I got a nice little draw that ran out into the middle of the fairway and left me about 60 yards to the hole.  I hit a good wedge shot to about 13 feet but missed the birdie attempt by an inch or so.  It ran past the hole by about 3 feet and I made that coming back for a 4th straight par.   Hole #3 - Par 4 - 332 Yards   I hit a very solid 4 iron from this tee that stayed out right a bit and found the rough.  Unfortunately, it also found a downhill lie.  I proceeded to make a huge mess of this hole as my 9 iron from that position ended up in a bunker.  It then took me 3 strokes to get it out from there.  Ultimately, I ended up with a snowman that was reduced (via club rules) to a triple bogey and my momentum was halted in a hurry.   Hole #4 - Par 3 - 127 Yards   This was a short little par 3 with no real trouble.  The pin was in the center of the green and there was plenty of room to miss left.  I aimed left with a pitching wedge and rode a breeze back towards the middle of the green.  I was left with a 27 footer.  One of my playing competitors had a similar line and I watched his ball turn a lot at the hole.  With that read, I was able to make a good stroke and watched as the ball tracked and dropped for my only birdie of the day.  At the end of the round, I found out that this birdie earned me a $265 skin payout!   Hole #5 - Par 4 - 363 Yards   This should have been one of the easier holes on the course, but I messed it up pretty bad.  When I started my backswing, a bug flew between the ball and my feet.  It distracted me and I should have stopped my swing, but I didn't.  It resulted in a top-pull with my hybrid that rolled into the left rough.  I didn't have much of a chance to do anything, so I tried to punch a 5 iron back into the fairway.  Instead, I duffed it forward about 90 yards.  I then laid back with a 9 iron, leaving me about 110 yards.  My wedge from that position was right of the green.  I chipped up to about 7 feet... couldn't make the putt from there and tapped in for another triple.  My birdie was sandwiched by triple bogeys and I knew I needed to settle down a bit to keep myself in it.   Hole #6 - Par 5 - 432 Yards   Yes... that is correct.  A 432 yard par 5 hole.  From the tee... I was thinking eagle the entire way, but even though it was a short hole, it wasn't necessarily an easy hole.  I made it more difficult than necessary by hitting a straight shot when I needed a cut and I ended up in some pine straw up the left side.  My only real option was to hit a 4 iron up into the fairway, which I was able to do successfully.  That left me with an uphill shot of about 60 yards.  I thought I had executed it to perfection, but my ball had run over the green into the fringe.  I putted from that position and ran it over the left edge of the cup, but about 5 feet by.  I was able to make the putt from there for a par.   Hole #7 - Par 4 - 343 Yards   A bombed 4 iron from the tee here put me in great position in the fairway and left me about 135 yards to the flag.  I hit a pretty good 8 iron from there to about 33 feet.  I left that woefully short, but from 15 feet, my par putt was true and I walked away with another par.   Hole #8 - Par 3 - 149 Yards   The flag was way up and the hole was only playing about 125 yards, so I went back to a pitching wedge.  I hit a really, really poor shot and watched as it faded towards the tree overhanging the right side of the green.  The ball settled into the rough to the right of the green and I was short sided.  After watching a playing competitor hit a shot from just a little further away, I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted to play this shot.  I pitched the ball into the fringe and watched as it rolled up just to the left of the cup, leaving me a tap in from 10 inches for a 3rd straight par.
Hole #9 - Par 4 - 360 Yards
I was hoping to close out the front side with another par, but on the tee I elected to hit a 4 iron for safety and I caught it a little fat.  It only managed to run out to about 170 yards and left me around 180 yards to the hole.  My 5 iron was struck well but faded off at the end and hit a tree pretty hard.  This kicked my ball into a bunker about 25 yards short of the hole.  From there, I hit a very poor sand shot that barely escaped and rolled onto the green about 38 feet from the hole.  I never really gave it a chance, but left myself an uphill 4 footer which I was able to convert for a simple bogey.
** NOTE - If I could have gone back and replayed the 3rd and 5th holes, I would have felt much better about the front side.  That said, I was pretty happy with my club score of 42.  I had 5 holes to go and knew if I could just find a way to play bogey golf, I may have a shot at placing in the money again.   Hole #10 - Par 4 - 334 Yards   There didn't appear to be much trouble while standing on the tee, and I had been hitting my driver pretty solidly... so I decided to get aggressive.  I hit a beautiful little shot that left me in the middle of the fairway with only about 80 yards to go.  I was at a perfect sand wedge distance and hit it right where I wanted.  The ball finished 7 feet to the right of the hole.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to roll the birdie putt in as it ran over the right edge of the cup, but it left me a tap in par to begin the last few holes of my round.   Hole #11 - Par 4 - 323 Yards   I hit a good tee shot here with my driver, but didn't quite get the distance I was hoping for, plus it ended up just off the fairway in the left rough.  I was left with a pitching wedge, which I thought I nailed, but the ball ended up just over the back of the green.  My chip from there got caught in the sticky fringe and stayed there, so I putted from that position to about 2 feet and tapped that in for a bogey.  Not great considering I had played 2 pretty good shots to get to where I was.   Hole #12 - Par 5 - 486 Yards   Another par 5 that looks (from the card) like it should have been reachable, but with trouble down the left side by the green... that wasn't the case.  I hit a solid drive that tailed off at the end and finished in the right rough.  Once you reached the top of the hill, the hole ran down and towards the water to the left of the green.  I tried to just pitch a wedge into the fairway at the top of the hill but caught it heavy and it settled in the primary cut of rough much further back than I wanted.  Instead of being smart... I tried to get a 4 iron to the hole from there and pulled it into the hazard.  From there, things got ugly in a hurry... luckily, the triple bogey max rule kicked in and I just picked up and took my snowman on this hole.  I honestly, at that point, believed I had just thrown away any and all hope of winning the tournament.   Hole #13 - Par 4 - 353 Yards   Reeling from the previous hole, I wasn't exactly thinking.  I wanted to get the ball somewhere up in the fairway and leave myself about 150 or so to the hole.  Instead of being smart and hitting my 4 iron or hybrid, I pulled out my driver and decided to just take an 'easy swing'.  This resulted in a pulled, hooking drive.  I got the kick of the day there, though, as the ball was spit out back into the middle of the fairway.  It left me 194 yards to the hole, and there was a hazard crossing in front of the green, but I figured if I had any shot at winning at this point, I was going to need to get the ball up there near the green and make no worse than a bogey.  Again, my stupid muscles kicked in and I hit a hybrid instead of laying back short of the creek.  I managed to pull it off, however, and cleared the creek and finished a little long and left.  I hit a pitch from there to about 15 feet.  I wanted to be aggressive with the putt so I really went at the hole and I blew it 10 feet past.  Continuing with the theme of the day, I managed to pull myself out of trouble there and made that putt coming back for a bogey.   Hole #14 - Par 3 - 140 Yards   Last hole... last shot to make something happen.  At that point, I knew I had a 2 stroke lead on one of the guys in our group and I figured, if nothing else, if I beat him... I'd make it into the money.  Well... he hit a great shot onto the green.  I then proceeded to blow my 8 iron well right of the green.  When I got up to the ball, it was in a halfway decent lie in the rough, but the green was heavily sloped.  I played a little pitch towards the back of the green and let it run slowly down to about 5 feet below the hole.  As had been the case all day, I then made that putt and salvaged a par.   ** NOTE - I stood on the 10th tee telling myself I needed to play +5 over the last 5 holes and, in the end, I did just that.  I made a number of key putts today, but the last 2 putts of the day really saved me.  When we got to the scoring area, there was only 1 group posted and none of them were even close.  As cards came in, my 86 continued to hold up and when then final card was posted, I won by 2 strokes.  It's the first time I've ever won a tournament, so... the feeling was great.  I got my little trophy... a $225 Edwin Watts gift card and an additional $265 cash for my birdie on #4 which made the victory all the much sweeter.     The Spoils of Victory   There are approximately 12 days until the next tournament, a two-day major the last weekend in June.  Between now and then, I'll bask in the knowledge that I finally earned a victory... I'll get back to work at some point in the middle of next week... and then when that tournament comes, I'll go in with a game plan hoping to go back-to-back and possibly get my National Championship entry paid for by way of a major win!
Until then!   Round Stats
  * Score - 90 (AGT Score of 86)   * Course Handicap - 18   * Net Score - 72 (AGT Net Score of 68)   * Penalty Strokes - 3   * Putts - 29   * Fairways - 6 of 14   * Greens in Regulation - 5 of 18   * Up and Downs - 5 of 8   * Sand Saves - 0 of 2



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    • LOL. Beautifully put. The guys you named are the most recent perhaps. But I think it can refer to many out there he's probably come across be it Twitter, FB, Instagram....but they certainly fit the type mentioned.


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