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About this blog

As I have joined the PGA recently as an apprentice, I can play in local tournaments and other cool tournaments in the PNW as a pro. I'll just detail certain tournaments and/or what I do to prepare for them.  

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phillyk

The Zone

Well winter has really set in, here in Western Washington, with snow a week ago and now blustery rainy days that won't end until April.  I've done a lot of reflection after the Newport Cup because of how well I played that final day.  It was a good way to end my season.  I knew that my swing had been coming around and that there were only a few swing thoughts I wanted to keep track of.  I had a good warm-up that day, not doing anything special.  Just getting finding the rhythm and the way the ball was flying.

I know I've had rounds where I had flow from hole to hole or through a series of holes, but I never thought I was in the zone.  The more I look back at the NC, the more I think I was firmly in the zone that last day.  The first hole I can remember being in that zone was hole 12, a straight, longer par 4.  I remember thinking about my aim point, on the tee, and just telling myself to swing the way you've been doing all day.  I remember thinking the same thing on the next tee too and both were nearly perfect drives.  I'm pretty sure, though, that after the first tee shot on hole 1, I entered that zone.  Everything seems a blur now.  No particular shots stand out.  It was all thinking about my aim points and hitting them almost every time.  It was a feeling of, almost, non-awareness.  Just a aim and shoot, knowing that it will be just fine.  It seems so strange, because I've never felt that way about a round.  Every round is usually a battle to find the cup.  I'm hoping I can retain that feeling and find it again next season.

phillyk

Now to the Newport Cup.

I've been so pumped for this event ever since I was selected to play in it.  But, it's nerve wrecking, for me, because you're meeting people you've known for a couple years over the forum, but want to impress them I guess?  I don't know how to explain it other than because I'm a +1 cap, how can I prove that I play well?  Not many people can say they're a scratch golfer and when we see new people come on the forum and say this and that, we are all skeptical until proven otherwise.  Even though I've been around for a while, I've only ever played with one guy from TST, and he doesn't participate anymore.  My swing doesn't look great, I know it.  But I'm flexible and athletic enough that I made a swing that works.  So this is my chance to show how I play and I didn't want to screw it up.

I'd never played in an alternate shot format before.  Playing with Tyler ( @Pretzel ) was good because we play the game similarly but both of us have not played alternate shot.  We played alternate shot together on both day 1 and 2. We both play a grip it and rip it style of golf.  But, we both struggled, because we couldn't get into a rhythm I think.  We had a lot of wayward tee shots, but we both were recovering from them nicely.  I feel I may have done better if I still got out when it was his turn to hit the ball, but I kept swinging to stay loose.

Afternoon on Day 1 was best ball, which is a format I've played before with my boss at a couple events.  But, it's another style that I don't perform as well in.  I'd say it's because I can let it go a couple times.  I get wild and try to hit too hard, because I know that I can when my partner is in good shape.  This was the round, I holed out from 85 or 90yds for an eagle on the 1st hole.  It was funny, I had a lot of shots I caught on the bottom grooves, so they were skinny, but they ended up in perfect spots or went in the hole. So in regards to my overall swing this day, I knew I needed to practice those 50yd-70yd pitch-like shots.  But my overall swing was in decent shape, I just needed to find my rhythm and slow down a bit.  My individual score was a 73, I believe.  Certainly, knowing the course for the 2nd day helped out a lot.

The morning alternate shot Day 2 went slightly better with Tyler, and we had an agreement to NOT hit any drives into the straw-grass but that ended pretty quick.  And once again, we were able to recover from those drives pretty well.  Afternoon best ball was an interesting round for me.  I thought I was going to hit the ball well, but for some reason I still couldn't get into a rhythm.  Drew ( @Golfingdad ) and I played well as a team, more of a ham and egg deal.  I remember somewhere on the back 9, he told me that the last 6 holes were going to be mine.  It clicked me into another gear I think.  On #15, a par 5, I hit my drive right, but in a playable position. I had to punch a 4 iron with a draw through the trees, but it's a shot I keep in my bag.  I put it out in the FW and into that zone I had been practicing.  I put my approach to within 10ft and managed to sink a birdie to win the hole when we were all square.  On #16, I took out 3wood and ripped it down the middle to 110yds out, I think.  I wanted to make sure I was beneath the hole and I gave myself about 20ft, but a slider.  It came down to me to sink it, and I made the clutch putt.  I think I shot around 75 or 76 in my individual score during best ball.

This event helped me realize what mentality I have to take to play well, and I knew what it was going into individual match play. 

Before getting into Day 3, I want to talk greens.  I don't have a ton of experience on bermuda grass greens.  But, I understand that if cut to a short enough length, they should behave nearly the same as to what I play on, because grain won't take too much of an effect.  I also haven't used a lot of aimpoint before, but these greens were tricky.  A lot of flat-ish looking putts that was hard to eyeball and I have rather sensitive feel with my feet ever since I got vertigo a couple years ago.  So, I used that part of aimpoint to just let me know to what side, if any, the ball would break.  It helped quite a bit.  I made a lot of putts day 1 in alternate shot and made a few putts again day 2 in both games.  

Day 3, it was decided I was going to play Brian ( @bkuehn1952 ) and I had to give him 11 strokes.  From playing in men's league at my course, I'm used to having to give someone up to 2 strokes a hole, so I'm ok with giving a lot of strokes and I've learned how to play with it. During warm-ups, my focus was to get my rhythm and keep it.  My game plan was to come out as strong as possible, because if I dig myself into a hole, I figured I wouldn't get out of it.  So I hit my drive down the left side on hole 1, put my approach to about 7ft and sink my birdie putt to go 1 up.  The 2nd hole is interesting. 

(Flashback to day 2 with Drew) I had him go first so I can decide whether or not to go for the green.  He puts it in the FW, time to bomb it.  OK, so the carry to the green, over the pond is about 285-290yds.  BUT, if going directly at the green, you are aiming over the homes surrounding the course.  From the corner house, I was aiming at the 5th or 6th house in.  As in, if I top this or hit it too skinny, I'm breaking something.  Well, I ended up hitting it slightly low on the face, but I hit my line spot on and I figured I carried it, so I scream FORE and Drew said he did not see a splash.  I managed to carry it by a foot.  It was still in the hazard but with a crappy lie.  

So, my plan was to not go for the green but to cut off a little bit, at least, to force the pressure on Brian to hit a good 2nd shot.  Well I hit it skinny again but it just barely had enough height to go over the trees I was aiming for.  I got into that zone again, and had a good shot that put me to within 5 or 6 ft and got my 2nd birdie to go 2 up.  After that, I stayed automatic.  Driving the ball where I'm aiming and hitting nearly every single green in regulation.  When Brian had a pop on a hole and he got par, I managed to make birdie to tie it.  The only blip on a tee shot I remember was hole 14, when I hooked my tee shot into the pine straw.  I had an opening, though to hit a drawing 9 iron.  Once again, I caught it slightly skinny, but I ended up within 15ft of the hole and got birdie anyway.

I had every green in regulation, except 1, up to hole 16.  I left my approach from 115yds 1 foot short in the fringe, and it was lucky enough to stay up from going in the water.  Before hitting my putt, Brian conceded the match, and having known I got my 3 points, I lost focus.  3 putted from 15ft to get a bogey.  On 17, still out of focus, I leave my shot short of the green, but make a good scrambling par.  Hole 18, still not in focus, I push my tee shot into the water.  Got my my bogey there too.  But I shot 69 anyway.

I'm finally finding my game, and it's getting better every time I go out.  I hope that I can keep it going this winter and start strong next summer.  I'd like to give the US Open qualifying another go, but I need to be playing this way and better to have a chance at sectionals and then get lucky to move further.  It's a reach, but I'll keep working until it happens.

phillyk

I haven't really written a lot about my golf this season, so I'll talk about recent tournament rounds, that I can remember, including some in the Newport Cup.

Part 1 will cover before Cup events.  Part 2 will be Cup stuff.  Just separating my thoughts a bit.

I don't remember when I first started the swing thoughts I have now, but I've been working with them for a few months now and it really seems to make my game consistently better and better.  In my pre-shot routine, I start with my creating my grip with the club just behind the ball.  I like to make sure my left thump is pointing down the shaft with my left wrist parallel with the face (at least what feels parallel with the face).  Then I create my stance that feels slightly open.  If my stance gets into a position of aiming right, I'll have no chance to hit my intended target.  I like to feel more weight on my left side than what is normal because it helps start the back swing. 

Before takeaway, my objective is to make sure that if I were to swing, where would the ball go?  If it is not at my intended target, I'll adjust.  Those who played with me recently at the Cup probably noticed that I do a dance with my feet before swinging.  I do it to make sure I feel aimed at my target and am good to go.  If it feels way off, then I'll step away from the ball and start the whole routine over again.  In the swing, I only have one thought with irons and two thoughts with my driver and fairway wood.  With irons, it's to make sure I feel my left wrist being flat at the top of my swing. This will insure the face, for me, is squared at impact and that I finished the turn on my back swing, to start the in to out path on the down swing.  With driver, I have the same thought as above but with the added thought that I want to watch the club head's blur go through the ball.  Reason is because it will slow my aggressive swing down a bit and relax myself enough to make sure contact is good.  With my fairway wood, the added thought is to feel like I'm swinging up on the ball.  I know this isn't "right" for how you're suppose to do it, but if I think swing up on it, I usually come into the ball flat versus hitting down with it too much.

My biggest fault, recently, has been short game.  More specifically, the shots between 45yds and 65yds.  It's more than a easy pitch and less than a full swing, and I get super flippy and start skulling the darn ball.  But, at the range for 5 minutes during the Cup, I decided to really grind it out and figure something out.  I know that I needed to get my hands ahead of the ball and have them stay there.  So, I got I figured it out.  Hands ahead take the club back to a half swing or so and go through and it worked.  So that really helped me come out shooting darts for the 2nd and 3rd days of the Cup.

Before this trip, I had major issues, but because my long game and putting was on point, I made up for the losses.  It's really annoying to say that.  To go out there and have 4 - 5 birdies a round, but because you chunked/skulled 2 or 3 pitches in that zone, you shot even or one over.

Before the Cup, I played in my PGA chapter's Fall Fling.  It's 3 pro ams at 3 different courses, but all close to each other.  I had the same team for the first two days and a different team for the third day.  The first day was at a course I liked and was really ready to go low.  At the first hole, it is cold and raining, so I had an extra layer on.  Felt tight and i hooked my 3 iron into the drink, getting a double bogey.  I had one other double bogey because of a skulled pitch in my no good zone.  Thing is, I hit a long ball off the tee and yeah I'd rather have a 55yd shot than a 90yd one, because you should be closer on average.  But it simply wasn't the case for a while because of how bad I was from 55yds. But I kept trying to get it down.  I think I finished with a 76 that day.

The next day was a good day, finally.  It is a pretty open course off the tee, and lots of driver-wedge opportunities.  Not as many in my no good zone, but more between 75yds and 100yds, which is my very good zone.  I don't remember how many greens in regulation I had, but it was close to 15 or 16.  I made 5 birdies, 3 of which were from getting on in 2 on a short par 5 and 2 putting, and I had two other decent holes that I managed to sink a putt on.  I kid you not, I had at least 10-12 putts from 5-20ft for birdies/eagles and I missed every single one them, save for 1.  I breezed by the hole within an inch or sat on the lip on all of them.  I was putting well, but nothing would drop. I did have one bad hole, because i got sloppy on my routine and sliced the bejesus out of it OB.  So got a double on the easiest hole on the course.  STUPID.  BUT, I shot my first 60's tournament round of 69 (-3).  Of course, I had to think about all those barely missed putts and the stupid double, and to talk about how much better it could've been.

On the 3rd day, we played a course that was my home course for a year, a little while ago.  But I still know the course very well.  After a 69, I was pumped to go low again.  I hit the ball well enough but my approach shots got wary and I had several no good zone shots that sucked again.  I don't remember too much of the round, but I still shot a 73 (+1).  A course like that, I feel like I should be shooting in the 60's pretty consistently.  It was just an off day, I guess, although a 73 is still a decent score.

The 2nd and 3rd days, I managed to pull a T-5th gross place to earn a few player of the year points.  The winner the 2nd day was at -7 and the winner the 3rd day was at -3.

Oh yeah, halfway through my round on the 3rd day, I noticed my driver had a nice crack in the face, but I still hit it decently enough. Luckily my G400 was already in the mail and I got it before heading to North Carolina.

phillyk

I recently came back from my PGA education seminar in Florida.  The instructor, Joe Plecker, is a PGA Master Professional in instruction and GOLF Magazines top-100 instructor .  Gosh, he made it look so easy.  I just wanted to share some things he told us about.

It started by having a girl in the class stand up and get into a golf posture then take an imaginary swing.  Her hip turn tried to turn around her right leg and the inside of her right foot came off the ground.  He mentioned her knee position pointing inwards and the foot off the ground, and that the knee should be pointing more out than in and the feet on the ground.  He adjusted her turn, now knowing how her specific body turns and it turned out she needed to have a left leg pivot.

Everybody has different physiques and they each work different ways.  As far as hip turns on the backswing, he groups it into front, middle and back pivot, based on how the persons knees bend and balance.  This pivot effects the downswing and how the body must move to hit the ball properly. He also talked about trail arm dynamics.  Based on how the arm bends and turns determines what kind of release a person is capable of doing.  It's hard to explain in writing so I may make a video on it. 

When he teaches a student, he identifies body turn and trail arm dynamics in order to teach them a swing that their body is capable of doing.  

A lot of instructors teach based on trying achieve that beautiful looking swing, but everybody has a different body type.  While there may be key commonalities between them, you don't want to make them do something their body can't do.

These aren't brand new.  It's just a different way to see the swing.  Start with bio-mechanics, then go to the swing.

phillyk

Yesterday was the annual Ball Buster at my course.  This is where you tip out the course, if not longer, and put pins on the middle of a slope and/or the edges of the greens.  Course played tough, but was even harder because of the weather.  The first 9 holes were played in a windy, rain storm.  After 9, the rain stopped and the wind picked up even more.  Greens rolled well, but fairways are soggy.  Every winter, the fairways go to soggy messes.  

Scrambles are always fun to play in.  I enjoy playing with friends and having a few drinks, BUT I hate it because my swing always seems to go away. I'll always continue to play in them.  Maybe next time will be different, and it never is.  I just don't perform in scrambles.  OR maybe it's that I do perform the same but it looks worse because I expect a perfect shot every time or my team expects a perfect shot every time from me.  I'm the big stick, so I'm expected to hit the big drives in the fairway and then I'm the pickup guy when everybody misses the green.  I'm the guy who watches everybody else's putt, and is expected to make it from 30ft because someone lipped out.  I succeed on some of these challenges and fail at the others, but if I was to succeed at all these challenges, I would be on tour or better.  I can't expect myself to be perfect, because I'm not.  But it doesn't make me feel any better.  We came in 4th net and got our money back plus a little, so we finished well.

I like golf because there's only one person that can effect your score and that's yourself.  No one to back you up if you miss.  In some ways there's more pressure because of that, but in other ways it's less because you accept the outcome of your successes and failures.  On a team, I can't control how a player hits his ball, what he's thinking on a putt, or whatnot.  When you succeed, you get birdie shots of fireball!  When we fail, I feel like blaming myself for not making it better.  When I play my own ball, I feel more relaxed.

phillyk

My Golf Journey

Well, I've hit 1,000 posts here. Woohoo! Took me long enough (almost 6yrs).  So I thought I'd do the whole journey of golf thing like other posters have done, although I'll abbreviate it as much as I can so this doesn't get too long.  Just fyi, I'm a terrible story teller. Ufta, it is a little long, but enjoy! :-D

Child, born in 1990, to 15yrs old 
I started before I knew what I was doing.  My parents got me the blue plastic, double-sided iron and putter with wiffle balls that I could smack around the back yard.  I apparently loved doing it.  My dad and grandpa wouldn't teach me too much except on how to grip and stand.  My swing was interesting.  Apparently, I would bring the club up to the top, pause so I can adjust my feet, then swing back down and hit the ball.  My grandpa was always amused that I could hit the ball doing that.  He tried to get me to stop up through when I joined my first team in 7th grade.

I'm not sure when I got my first set of clubs, but I do know that it was the typical starting set with a driver, 5,7,9 irons, PW, and putter.  There was a 9 hole, par 3 course near my home in suburbs of Chicago, that I played most of the time.  My next set of clubs was given when I joined that team in 7th grade. The clubs were actually an older ladies set of steel drivers and irons, but I hit them well enough (set was 1,3,5,& 7 woods, 4,5,6,7,8,9 irons, pw and putter).  At this point, I was brought to my first 18 hole track, where I would eventually work for 4 years. Course is called Chick Evans, a Billy Casper managed course.  But for the team, they only wanted us to play the smaller 9 hole courses.  The point of the team was to prepare us for high school golf. So we played in competitions with coaches going with each group to go over rules and stuff.  My only memory of this team was when I hit a shot on a par 3 to a couple inches. I was so happy that I ran up and tapped it in.... but with the flag stick still in.  So I got a 2 stroke penalty.  Lesson learned.  During this time, my favorite club was my wedge.  I don't know why, but I was soooo good with that club around the greens.  I could chip, pitch, flop, sand trap, anything with that club and put it close every time.  It seemed like I was chipping in at least once a round.  Then came the SW.  My dad decided to give me a SW for some reason and all that short game confidence went away.  Also up to this point, I had never received a lesson.  I was stubborn and didn't want anybody changing anything.  With the team, was a PGA instructor who we all took a few lessons from and the only thing I took from this guy was changing my grip from 10-finger to an overlap. I ignored everything else he said.

During these years, my whole family liked to golf.  It was an interesting transition because my sister really liked to play (she's 3yrs older than me), but only if she knew she'd beat me.  Eventually, we got competitive and then to me beating her almost every time.  She hated that and at this point refused to play golf if I was playing too.  So that ended her playing for a long time until she could accept I would always be a better golfer.    My mom had the weirdest start to her swing.  She doesn't know how it started, but in the beginning of her take away, she would fully cock her wrists then swing her arms back.  My dad tried to fix it, but it didn't work.  Took me until I was 22 and just starting to think about turning club pro for me to change it up a little bit.  My dad though has always been a good golfer and has always supported my game.  He grew up on Long Island and played Bethpage Black before it became popular. That was his home course. To this day, he could recite for you the entire course, as it was back then.  That is really cool, but we haven't gone back to play it since the changes.  We will eventually.

One of my friends growing up had parents who worked at a golf course, so he had access to new equipment.  My friend and I would hit balls at his house into their practice net pretty often.  His dad and him had the new Cobra 440SZ (I think it was), but they both didn't like it and decided to give it to me.  I went from a small steel head 1W to this big honking driver.  I crushed that thing.  The next year would be high school and I was already known a little bit to be a good golfer, possibly making the varsity team.

High school
The home course for my high school was a weird track that ran parallel to a Chicago branch river through the city of Evanston, called Peter Jans. It's called something else now.  Tight fairways and holes, was a par 60ish.  So most of the holes were par 3's ranging from 70yds to 210yds.  The par 4's were between 250 and 300yds.  When I say tight holes, I really mean tight. As in you have a 5yd window or less to hit your tee ball on some of the tees.  It was severely tree lined so there weren't any issues with hitting a house.  In any case, I played it a few times before tryouts.  But after day 1, they moved me and another kid to the varsity tryout.  They decided to keep us on JV anyway.  That year I went from shooting around 100 on a normal 18 hole course to high 80's.  I got better slowly after that, because I got popular from my tee shots.  I was the big hitter.  I went through a few drivers from cobra and eventually ended having their first version of the Xspeed 460cc driver.  But I was already hitting up to 300yds when I was 15.  Don'y get me wrong, my average drive was more like 265-270, but on the few times I successfully smacked it, it went a long way.  I was hitting further than any of the seniors and i became obsessed with trying to hit further.  Who cared about consistency when I could smack it 300yds.  Towards the end of my freshman year, I joined the varsity to play in regional qualifying, but ended up shooting 100 or so.

Sophomore year, I played mostly varsity but a few matches as JV.  I don't remember too much about this year.  Junior year I was fully on varsity and starting to shoot lower 80's, high 70's. But, by this point, my peers had caught up and that other kid from freshman year who tried out with varsity with me, got better than me by a few strokes.  I still was trying to hit my ball 300+yds.  I still couldn't focus on trying to swing consistently.   Somewhere between sophomore and junior year, I upgraded my irons to cobra and got a titleist 3 wood and a cobra hybrid.

Junior year was also when I got my nickname. Since 3rd grade, I've been singing in choirs, and in high school, I was standing next to another Phil.  We called him P-dizzle and me P-killa.  So, what did I do?  I put that nickname on my golf ball, pkilla.  I was playing in a tournament where a hole had in course OB (I HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE in course OB, I hate it so much, I find that OB every single time), so of course I sliced one right that went towards that OB line.  So I hit a provisional ball out to the left and had my coach go look for the provisional.  I ended up being a foot or so in bounds (seriously, i was).  My coach and our #1 player, who had WD earlier in the day from bad play, came over with a big grin on their faces and I knew that they had seen what I put on my ball.  So, I was now known as pkilla from then on.

Senior year was a good year.  I had dropped to #3 or 4 on the team and finally realized that I needed to get consistent.  I was still the big hitter but I focused more on getting my scores down and coming up with proper course management.  One particular tournament was at a course called White Deer Run.  The first green had the pin stuck right on top of a mound that if you missed the putt, it came right back to your feet.  I was going #6 this day and right before I teed off, one of those random thunderstorms came rolling through so we got everybody in for a couple hour delay.  The coaches decided, due to light, to just make it a 9 hole tourney.  I teed off on that first hole and it was wet enough that my birdie putt stopped right next to the hole on the mound, and I tapped in for par.  I continued to play right around par for 7 holes, I had one bogey, and my coach came driving up to ask how I was playing.  I didn't want to say 1 over because I knew it would jinx me.  So I said I was doing ok.  I think they took that to mean 3 or 4 over.  As I was coming down the 9th hole, they were out watching and I parred the final par 5 to finish with a 37.  Their faces were priceless when I told them.  It gave us our first win in our schools history for a multiple team tournament.

That year continued to get better and I was shooting right around par most of our 9 hole matches and around 75 in most 18 hole tournaments.  So, during this time is also when you are looking at college.  I knew, of course, that I wasn't good enough for Div 1 golf, but I thought if I went to a mid range D 2 school that I could play.  I eventually went to WWU, from looking up golf, marine bio, and choir on a college search engine.  I had myself, my coach, and all the above to try and get a hold of the college team coach.  Never had a single answer until the day before walk on tryouts my freshman yr in college, although at this point the whole team was filled anyway so it was just there to appease the fans I guess.  I had hard feelings then, but I got over it and played on my own.  Anyway, back to senior yr high school, I ended up shooting a 74 at our smaller regional tournament and a 75 at the bigger regional tournament to move to sectionals.  I had placed 5th, while our #1 guy shot 73 to finish 3rd.  It was the first time in a long time that our school qualified for sectionals.  But we were in for a hell of a day.  Tight country club type course, but with howling winds.  I played a high ball flight, so I was S.O.L.  Both myself and our #1 guy shot 87's and the rest of our team shot worse.  We didn't make it to state.  One highlight that day came on #10 a short par 4 that if you carry 260yds over water, you can hit the green.  My coach always says play conservatively, so I take out a 7iron or whatever. And he walks up and says, Phil, I want you to go for it.  I was shocked, never in my life would I imagine him saying that.  The wind was cross wind but helping a bit.  Driver would go over the green, so I pulled 3W.  With all the coaches and parents watching, I hit a pure push draw that landed on the green and rolled to 20ft away.  Ended with birdie and it was sweet.  But that was the only good shot that day.  Oh well, time to go to college.

One note from high school.  But first, a bit of back ground on Chick Evans GC, it's a short course, par 71.  But it has one of the hardest holes in the state, hole 3.  Par 5, 500yds, you have to carry 180yds to clear water, BUT there's water left of FW and water right of FW, AND the fairway has that bow to it that any drive that hits the left or right side of the FW will bounce in the water 100% of the time.  It just has to be a perfect drive.  When the course is busy, I've seen as much as 4 groups on the tee, because they all hit 2nd drives instead of moving on to drop over the water.  The hole continues with water down the whole right side and then it cuts through the FW in front of the green.  This was my least favorite hole and then became my favorite hole.  One summer (I think I was 16 or 17yrs old), I was playing with a 2-some, without my dad unfortunately, and I smoked a drive 330yds past the left water and to the wide part of the FW, but I found the ball to be lying low in a drain pipe grass area.  I ended up skulling my 7-iron and it hit the front of the green, but rolled all the way to the back of the green where the pin was and dropped in for a double eagle!! I must've jumped 20ft in the air. haha! I couldn't believe it.  Ended up around a 80 that day.

College to today
Well I already stated how tryouts was a bust.  I will add that they required you to shoot even par on a newly aerated course (it was seriously the day before they had finished aerating).  So it was impossible to play well.  Anyway, I played on my own during the year and during the summers, I would go back to Chicago and work at Chick Evans as outside staff.  So I was the guy that cleaned carts, gassed them, I was the marshal a bit, and I was the starter.  The years during college I slowly got better and got to a 1 handicap or so.  I continued hitting 300yd drives and at Chick Evans, there were only 2 par 4's left that I hadn't driven the green.  Both of those holes were 370, and all the others were 340 or less, so I drove those.  My lowest score was a 68 I think, so nothing special but it was a 60's score.  When I marshaled the course, I would stop by and watch groups and offer tidbits of help if they'd like and I got reasonably good results and compliments from that.  I didn't ever push it too far.  But this was the beginning for me to look into being a golf professional one day. Also at Chick Evans, when I had just turned 21, I was on the #10 tee box playing with my dad.  170yds, into the breeze and uphill, but you can still see the green.  I hit my 7iron and it one hopped into the hole for my first hole in one! Haha, my dad was more excited than me I think.  Course I had to buy a few rounds after that round.  That was the same 7-iron from my double eagle.  I still have it stored away, but my plan will be to put it in a glass case.  That's a special 7iron.

My junior year, I started dating my wife, Kelly, and senior year was that time that I'm thinking about us but also graduate school.  Univ of Washington had the program I wanted but is a super hard program to get into.  Deals with diatoms inside hydrothermal vents and how it feeds the entire ecosystem around the vents as well as why diatoms show up at these vents.  Cool, but because I golfed during summers instead of internships in the field as well as my GPA or whatever, I didn't get into UW.  After graduating, I moved in with a buddy of mine for a year while he still attended WWU, and I started to work at Shuksan GC.  I worked this time as pro shop staff.  At this point, I'm figuring out what direction to take my life.  This job was seasonal, so I had to find something for the winter.  I ended up quitting and going to the casino to work as a customer service.  I would eventually go to part time supervisor and part time slot attendant.  But I worked night shift for the 2 years I was there.  So start somewhere between 4:30pm and 8:30pm and work til as late as 6:30am (yes late, not early, it's still nighttime for me at 6:30am the next day, haha).  But this gave me the opportunity to golf during the day.

At this point, I had moved in with Kelly into a condo.  She finished her MBA and then went to work for the state auditor's office and I worked nights and played golf during the day.  During those 2 years, something clicked for me in my game and I went down to a +3 handicap at my home courses.  But I still shot around 0 to +1 at newer courses.  So, I decided to try a US Open qualifier.  I used to love playing tournaments in high school.  I loved the pressure, but that went away as I hadn't played in tournaments for 5yrs at that point.  The qualifier was at one of my now favorite courses called Tumble Creek.  I had a buddy of mine that I play golf with caddy for me.  I played terribly and embarrassed myself by shooting 90.  I made a thread on that experience and I was embarrassed to post that 90 for a year it seemed like.  It shocked me and took me a while to get back to the course.  But when I did play, I was back to shooting 69 or 70 at my home course and so I started to take lessons from a local pro who had worked with and caddied for Ben Crane in the past and is a good friend of his.  He changed my weight shift and swing and I like the initial results.  But those were the first real lessons I've ever taken before. My swing has always been just that, my swing.  When lessons started, it wasn't mine anymore and I didn't know how to trust it.

I stopped with lessons after 6 or 7 of them so I could find trust again.  (It's honestly something I still haven't been able to quite do yet, but it's very close now).  But in those lessons, my teacher was surprised at how fast I could pick up what he wanted me to do.  I could do any swing he wanted, but the problem was that I couldn't duplicate it on my own.  In any case, I continued to play obviously and started on the track to find an Assistant Golf Professional position somewhere close by.  During that time, I got married, bought a house, and passed my PAT test, so that it would look good for my resume to say that I'm ready for the PGA program.  When Kelly and I were moving into our house, I found an open Assistant position at one of the nearby courses.  Funny, because the post was literally up the night before, and the morning after I walked my resume in and talked to the boss.  I was offered the job a week later.  I joined the PGA program in a few months and I'm still working on it, but more slowly than I first intended.

Since joining the apprenticeship, I've been playing in a lot more tournaments and while my handicap is 0ish (I don't keep a real cap), my tournament cap from those events is a 3.4 (this is a cap kept & updated by my chapter of the PGA).  I'm to the point again where I don't feel nerves on the first tee and I can just play my own game.   But as I said earlier, I don't 100% trust my own game.  I love my irons and wedges, it's my driver and 3-wood that I don't quite trust yet.  I can keep them in the FW most of the time, it's more of ball flight.  Sometimes it's a small cut, sometimes its a small draw.  I could play one or the other if I knew which one would show up.  Yes I can control one or the other to some degree when the shot calls for a draw because of a dogleg.  It's on the straight holes that I have the problem, go figure. haha! 

So these days I'm just going as I go.  My wife and i are thinking baby time within a year.  So playing golf may get put on hold, but I love what i do and I plan to keep doing it for as long as I can.  I'll keep at the US Open qualifiers for fun to see if I can make it one day, but I'm not actively looking to play on a mini tour or anything.  I definitely need to have a plus figure tournament handicap first, which is my goal this next year.

phillyk

Working at a golf course, you meet all sorts of golfers with different goals and aspirations.  Jay started out by working as a cart kid and played golf a little bit.  A taller fellow who just wanted to rip it.  It was always funny looking at his clubs.  It was a bunch of different club makers and irons and wedges, because he kept braking everything quickly from swinging hard and hitting turf or sand or something.  He also went through drivers super fast.  One day working he got injured and tore his hamstring which put him out for a few months.

Now, he's back at it.  I gave him my old set of Apex Pro irons, of which he has 3 clubs left, because he broke the others.  Biggest change though is his driver.  He bought a Krank Driver 48in, 3X-Stiff shaft and like 4 or 5 degrees of loft.  He also bought a swing speed monitor to use at the range.  On weekends, he's out there swinging away now and I can't help but try to swing that thing and give him some advice on technique.  I can't swing that darn club; it's swing weight is off the charts for me and I hit a wicked slice.  I did manage to hit 131mph with it, which is cool.  But that's all I got (my average with my own driver is 117mph).  He rips it but wants to get a bit more consistently in the mid 140's for speed (his top speed is 148mph I believe). Take a look for yourself on one he was at 144mph...
 

 

phillyk

Putting it together

I had a pro am tourney today and shot a (-2) 70.  It's hard to quantify the round versus how the round would have gone with my driver.  As my last blog post said, my driver broke on Friday.  So today I played with no driver.  I do have an older SLDR S, but I just don't feel comfortable with it and the misses with it are really bad.  So, I thought it best to leave it at home.  Luckily, this course isn't the longest so I really didn't need more than 3 wood.

Some stats for the round: 8/14FW and 15GIR, no three putts so of those 3 missed greens, 2 were bogies.  Therefore, I had 4 birdies.  My most trouble came from par 3's.  I just had some bad tee shots on them.  

Overall, I hit a fairly consistent draw the whole round.  Most mishits came from chunking slightly.  Obviously I had a lot of GIR, but I wasn't getting those approaches as close as I would have liked.  A lot of approaches drew more than I had anticipated.  I had 2 bad tee shots today that made me have to punch draw my 2nd shots.  But somehow I put one 10ft away and the other 20ft away from the pin.  So I recovered very nicely.  My putting was good overall.  It was really just not getting my approaches closer.  

Now, if I had a driver, would I have scored better or worse?  I don't know.  There are certainly holes where using driver would've been better, but other holes where it was good not having driver to tempt me from trying something I shouldn't.  

I must say, though, that it's nice to finally put a round together in a tournament.  I hope I can keep this going.  There are a few more events left this season.

phillyk

Broken Driver, again!

UGH!!! So, earlier this summer I had noticed that my driver, Ping G30 LS TEC, had a crack on the face, toe side.  The biggest thing I noticed was the sound.  It seemed really dead.  So I sent it in and picked a new G30 LS TEC off the rack.  Same shaft, same driver.  But, it felt better as in the weight throughout the shaft felt heavier in my hand than towards the head of the driver.  I liked it and hit it better immediately and the sound was much better.  THEN, today I hit a few drives with the Callaway Supersoft ball, which I had never used before, and it felt really light/dead coming off the face.  But I thought it might be the ball, because of how soft it was suppose to be.  But when I looked at the face of my driver, just randomly, I saw it! Another freakin' crack!! 3 MONTHS! I had it 3 months and it already got the same crack on the face, toe side.  UGH!  I really had just started to feel super confident with the driver, and now I'll have to find that trust in a new one.  Worse though, is that I have a tournament Monday.  I guess one positive is that this course is on the shorter side and I can definitely still score well using my 3 wood.  But, it's still annoying to have this happen now. I'm definitely still sticking with the Ping drivers.  I'll just have to wait on a new one.

phillyk

Yesterday was our section's PGA Assistants Championship Qualifier at Fairwood G&CC (full results found at https://2016secassistant.golfgenius.com/pages/593656).  This tournament is a 36 hole qualifier, shotgun format.  First round was at 7:45 and next at 12:45.  3 spots were available to move on to Florida for the championship rounds in October.  Weird thing, I thought, was that you could ride for this event.  I assumed we had to walk so I took my push cart I recently got from TST and walked 36 holes... my legs are aching a bit this morning.  The morning was crappy weather.  It was that misty rain that sticks everywhere mixed in with actual drizzle/rain mix.  That went on for 3 hours after the morning tee off.  But then it cleared up and was sunny-ish for the 2nd round.  A quick summary of how the course plays, it's relatively short but fairways are generally a bit skinnier than normal and the greens have a lot of break or have big ridges in the middle.

I started on hole 10 for both rounds.  The first round was tough, because of weather and having only played the course once before, this last winter.  So it was a mix of sticking to the game plan and then using which ever club off the tee that would put my in the fairway with a good shot at hitting the green.  Generally off the tee, I did ok, spare a few holes I hit OB or into a water hazard.  But, where I lost a lot of strokes to the field was chipping.  I was hitting the lines I wanted, but with the greens rolling about 13, I wasn't stopping the ball where I wanted.  It was rolling out just a little too much.  So instead of 5 footers, I was having to try and make 10-15 footers to save par. To the question of why I was having to chip so much, well I was leaving my approach shots short.  I think the air, being dense with moisture and just taking easy swings made me have to club up and I just wasn't doing it enough.  I used my driver twice in the first round.  The second one was on my last hole, which is #9 a par 5.  My swing thought for the day, which is very important to my driver, is feeling like I'm following through towards my target.  So I stepped up and scorched it.  It was one of those hits that you hit it and immediately pick up your tee because you know exactly where it will end up.  My 2nd shot was with my 3 wood where I hit a nice draw burner that rolled up to 50yds out.  Made my pitch to about 2ft which I made for birdie, which was the only birdie in our group during that morning round.  So, I finished with a 81 that round.  Not what I was looking for but I knew going into the 2nd round how I would play the course to create better scoring.

After that birdie, I was in good spirits after a quick lunch.  Starting on number 10 again, which is a 560yd par 5, I knew both times that even a 300yd drive would leave a tricky 3 wood approach to hit the green in 2, so it just wasn't worth it to go with driver.  I hit 3 wood down the right side, hit my 2 iron then to about 125yd out, and my approach shot was pretty.  Our group couldn't believe that the ball didn't go in the hole.  I love playing those sweeping draws with my PW and 9iron.  So, with my PW in hand, I played a high sweeping draw that landed a foot right of the hole skipped forward, then spun backwards toward the hole and stopped 6in past the cup.  It must've lipped out or just nearly, but either way, starting with a tap in birdie is always fun.  My 2nd round was very up and down, but with more ups than downs.  After round 1, I decided that using 3 wood off the tee was working better than 2 irons, mostly because of hitting the fairway a bit more but also it put me past some trouble areas that I hit in round 1 with 2 iron.  So with my 3 wood, I was hitting a lot of fairways or just off the fairway in that 2nd round, save for one hole that I pushed right into a water hazard.  But the real highlights were my approach shots.  After that first round, I knew that I could afford to take more club, because 1, I was short in round 1 almost consistently, and 2, these greens caught my back spin so well that I had to put the ball past the pin and let it come back.  Needless to say, after that comment, I was hunting pins.  For the first 5 or 6 holes, the real issue was putting.  For some reason, I was being too tentative and leaving them short or on low side.  I missed 3 easy birdie putts (within 10ft) in those first 6 holes.  Finally, on my 7th hole, a par 3, I hit my putt well, and the birdie putt went in from about 20ft.  I parred 8, birdied 9, birdied 10, birdied 11.  So, I'm really on a roll and feeling good, and of course i got cocky and lost concentration on a par 3, and pushed in right OB.  Got a double on that hole.  No fun.  From then on, it was more missed birdie putts and not hitting my approach shots as close.  Went into my 18th hole again with my driver, only this time i hooked it looking to go OB, but it had a nice kick off the tree to be just left of the FW.  Hit 2 iron down right side of FW to leave 65yds in.  I put it 6ft right of the hole, and I was too tentative again and left my birdie putt short and on low side.  

So, I finished with a 71 (even par) in the last round to finish with a 152 overall.  That put me in the money, so I'll take it!  A little disappointed in my short game performance and some wedge shots that I'm typically very confident with.  I knew I'd make some mistakes in there, but I hate the ones where I lose concentration.  That shouldn't happen.  I play in another big event next week, which is a 3 day no cut event with a gross & net payout.  This event is one of our section majors for the year so the payout is typically nice.  I hope I can bring my 71 game out there.  But, I've never played the course and I've never played golf in the desert before.  So, it will be a new experience for me.  Just have to find what's working early on and play it.

phillyk

Pro-Am tourney

After coming off of my men's league 31, I was excited to go to this championship course (Tumble Creek Golf Club) to see if I can continue the streak of good play.  As we were driving into the course, the first thing to notice was high winds.  It was very windy.  One of my guys had his ball roll away on the green before he set up.  The ball was almost always oscillating when on the green when the gust came through.  So, on the range, my plan was to practice some lower flighted shots to play for the day.  The warm-up went well.  I hit the shots I wanted to.  I then chipped a bit and boy these greens are very quick.  13ish on the scale if not faster I'd guess.  Greens also weren't catching spin as well as I'd like.  So it was a lot of bump n runs and hope the ball stops where I want.

First hole (we started back 9 first), was directly into the wind at 400yds.  I hit a nice cut with my driver down the middle. So it was a great start.  As the day went on I was hitting good shots but my short game, as I thought it would, was not keeping up.  I had multiple opportunities for birdie that I couldn't capitalize on.  It was a combination of mis-reads and being too tentative with the putts.  I typically like to go 18in past the cup if i was to miss, but I was barely getting the ball to the hole.  Tap in pars are fine except when you know you need birdies to make up for the mistakes that may come later.  But, I kept hitting good tee shots.  Approaches were difficult to judge with the wind, so I had a few shots go too long when I was down wind.  When I was into the wind, I actually judged the distance pretty well overall.

A few highlight drives.  One downhill, downwind tee shot went about 350yds on a par 5.  My approach from 220 hit short, which is what i wanted so as i didn't go over the green.  But as was the case that day, I couldn't get up and down for birdie, so I had to make do with par.  I had a few other drives carry 310yds uphill downwind, one rolled out another 30 yds, the other rolled maybe 10yds because it went more uphill.  The one that rolled another 30yds left me 10ft short of the green, and of course as the day was, I couldn't get up and down for birdie, got the tap in par.  The other was a par 5, I hit my 2nd shot to just short of the green, and finally I had a good enough chip to leave me a foot away for a tap in birdie.  
Going into my 17th hole (#8), was a shorter par 5 but directly into the wind.  Maybe I was getting tired or I just wasn't focused, but I sliced it straight out to the right, so I re-teed 2 more times before I hit got one in play.  I did end up finding that second tee shot, so I finished with a double bogey on the hole.  The next hole i sliced again, but found it too and finished with a bogey.  So, not a great finish and i left some birdies out there, but I still finished with a 78 which gave me 2nd place net, T-10th gross.  First place gross was 73, so it really was a very tough day for the whole field (usually there's a guy with a 66 or 67 in these things). I'm pleased with how I hit the ball overall, I just need to work a bit on short game with these really fast greens.

phillyk

A week ago or so, I finally met a local PGA Pro who I had heard a lot about and plays here and there on the senior PGA circuit and co-runs a golf academy.  Our local golf pro's play in a match play event in spring that brings all of us together and have a double elimination match play over the course of a few months.  It's a lot of fun, and for me being relatively new, it gives me a chance to really meet all the other pros in my area.

I won't use his name, but he played a few years on the PGA Tour and a couple more years on other mini tours, and this year he has eligibility to play in Senior PGA Tour events.  But, from what I've heard, he usually doesn't play well in those events.  In our local chapter events, you'll find him leading the senior category most of the time.  It's cool to see a 60+yr old guy still shooting in the 60's regularly.  So, me being that kid that still wants to give some kind of run (stupid and unrealistic, I know) at a PGA event, asked why he stopped playing and what he missed about playing.  His answer surprised me at the time, but makes sense now.  The answer to the first question was more obvious, because it was that he chose family over playing. He said it was too hard on them to be traveling around all the time, but he still says it was the hardest decision he's ever had to make.  To the second question, I'd assume he missed the competition and pressure.  But it wasn't that simple.  On one hand, he is still friends with a good bunch of guys who we see regularly on the senior tour.  On the other, what he really missed is the drive to be the best, and as he said it, it was in his DNA to always want to be the best.  I think he accepts his limits now, but he still tries to keep a very strong game.

My boss and I lost the match, but it was more of us not sinking birdie putts than them playing well.  Still, it was fun to play a round with someone who's done it all.

phillyk

Played in an event yesterday at Tacoma C&GC.  My overall conclusion on how I played was pretty good, but I still have to work out how to hit tee shots.  Finished with a 77, so moving in the right direction in actual events.  Practice rounds at my home course are still around even par or under.  Not the same I know, but it tells me that I can play.  I just have to get comfortable playing in real events and just play my game.

The course was in great shape even with all the rain we've had this winter.  It's hard to describe how awesome their greens were.  Barely any bumps, true rolls and breaks, fast (maybe around 12 on the meter), but the crazy part was how much the ball backed up on these greens.  With how much slope the greens had, rolling them any quicker might've been a nightmare.  But, I just couldn't get myself to use more club and play for the back spin.  I remember so many approach shots that I landed pin high, and the ball backed up 30ft.  So instead of a nice 10 footer for birdie, I have 30+ft.  (I should've played with prinnacle gold instead of prov1s I guess).  I did not have any 3 putts, though.  I did leave quite a few of those long putts short, like 5-8ft short.  But I made all the 2nd putts.  It was such a nice change to be able to read the putt and have it roll exactly as I saw it.  (Most courses I play, I over-read the putt and leave it high).

I started with a birdie on my first hole, which was #18, a par 5.  So a good start, but then nerves got to me or something.  I bogeyed 1, doubled 2, both of which are easy holes.  The miss was off the tee.  I had a couple other bogeys from me missing the tee shot and one double from chunking and spinning the ball too much on a par 3 into the water from the green.  After that missed tee shot on #2, I remembered the rhythm and pre-shot routine I had been working on.  It basically is me making sure I keep my left arm to wrist angle straight from the top through the downswing and making sure I don't release too early.  From then on, my tee shots got a lot better.  I started hitting most fairways using my 2 iron and 3 wood. But my driver didn't get better.  I have a good idea of how to work on it more, but we'll see.  Funny thing though, I played in my course's How Low Can You Go scramble 3 days ago, and I drove multiple greens by carrying the ball 280-295 off the tee and they all landed on the green.  During yesterdays round, I did have one drive end up in the fairway 310 off the tee, but that was my only good drive of 5 uses.  So I know the swing is in there somewhere, I just have to find the mental note or "feel" that makes it work every time.

Every time I was GIR or nGIR, I made par or better.  I did make one course management mistake that cost me a stroke or two on hole #2.  The initial mistake was putting the tee shot in the trees, but the second mistake was trying to hit through them instead of punching out.  So, I just need to find a way to start with my pre shot routine from the beginning of the round and find a way keep my driver swing for these events.

phillyk

It sucks to admit, but I can't perform when it comes to tournament play.  I over-estimated my ability by a lot at Sahalee.  Was it my swing, my plan, or simply I haven't had enough tournament experience yet to be comfortable?   I'd say a combination of everything.

Sahalee is not a course you can walk onto the first time and expect to make a great score, which I thought I could do.  Its tree-lined right off the fairway.  But more than that, it forces very specific shots from the tee box.  One could still be in the fairway but have half the green blocked by a big evergreen.  It almost isn't fair, but I like the challenge.  With evergreens that are that thick, it's impossible to hit straight through them.  You have to go around.  My game plan changed almost immediately after I realized this.  

I started my first 5 holes interestingly, had 3 birdies, a double, and a par.  I was happy enough I guess, but those were my only birdies that day.  I couldn't give myself clean shots at the green, but I also didn't feel comfortable in my normal "go right at it" zone (75-100yds).  I had a lot of chunks and just bad shots.  I couldn't get comfortable.  Both rounds were like this, just not being able to make the swing I know I can do.  First day was a 80, second day was a 86 i think.  I don't blame weather, but it was crappy.  Rainy and cold, but manageable.

The next day I went out to a course I enjoy playing, with a friend.  I focused on trying to hit the 150yd stick all day, from the white tees (5800yds), which meant using 4irons and my 3 driving iron the whole day, except for par 5s  which I still used driver.  Shot 66 (-6).  It was so easy to do.  All of a sudden, all my clubs were working properly again.

Thinking back at Sahalee, I would've been fine if I had used 4 iron off the tee most of the time.  I may have had a few trees still block my view to the green from the fairway.  But, it would've given me 160-170yds in most of the time, which I can get close enough to the green, if not on, most of the time.

The other big part here that I'm missing is tournament experience.  In high school, we played matches several times a week.  I was so used to being under the pressure that I loved it! I vividly remember being in my sectional tournament near the end of the season (I had just played well in regionals to help bring my team to sectionals), and I was making the turn and all the coaches are hanging out there talking to their kids.  I wasn't having the best round at this point.  10 is a short par 4, 270yds, but with water right in front of the green.  If you were short of a 255 carry, you're wet.  So option 1, take a 3 wood and wack it.  I didn't want to go over the green with a driver, either.  Option 2, which was my plan, was to use a mid iron and place it in the fairway with a nice easy shot to the green.  I talk with my coach, and he tells me something I thought I would never hear.  He wanted me to go for it.  What?! My coach saying that? Crazy!  I was like, are you sure? He said yup!  Ok, so with all the coaches around, I step up with the 3wood and hit the most perfect shot of the day.  A driving high draw that lands on the green and rolls to 20ft away. Missed the putt, but made birdie.  Whenever my coach was around that season, I had always hit a good shot it seemed. 

It isn't like that anymore.  I start shaking over simple bunker shots or that first tee shot.  I'd like to think that I can regain my confidence in events with a bit more experience. We will see...

phillyk

Quick Round at Home

During the day today, I was thinking about what I could do to improve the swing, particularly the long clubs.  I thought about recent videos and that I feel a little crunched at impact.  I know i need better extension at impact.  So, I tried putting the ball further away from me with my longer clubs, with exception to the 3W.  I wanted to not stretch for the ball, but feel further away than before.  My mid irons I didn't move quite as much and the low irons and wedges I didn't move at all.

I decided to play the blue tees (6650yds, 73.3, 143) because it would best represent the distances I would play at Sahalee.  Right off the bat, I used my driving iron on hole 1 and it went right down the pipe.  I hit it slightly high on the club face.  But other than that, it was good, made par here!  2 hole was a boring par. 3 hole hit 3W off tee, then my approach landed 5ft away from pin for a easy birdie (this hole by the way is one of my least favorite holes, so it was cool to birdie it).  4 got up and down for par. 5 was the first hole to use the driver, and I hooked the ball into the hazard.  I realized that I couldn't choke up like I would normally do. I had to grip normally (which I very rarely do).  I hit 3 to 100yds out, 4 to 5ft from pin, and sunk par putt.  Easy enough... 6 boring par.  7 is a downhill par 3 at 170 that I hit a easy 8iron to 3ft away.  Easy birdie.  8 I hit driver again this time with a normal grip, and it was still slightly pulled but just barely.  Still a great hit, made par.  9 is a uphill par 5, hit driver perfect down the left side with an easy draw.  Hit 2 up short right of the green, 3 pitched it 1ft away.  Easy birdie.  I've never had a 33 on the front from the blues, so I was pretty excited with what I'm doing.  10 boring par.  11 I hit driver again, and this hole needs an accurate drive.  It is only 315 or so uphill to the green, but there's trouble.  I hit a perfect drive again down the left side.  20yds out and I hit the pitch thin, easy par, but should've been birdie.  Oh well.  12 perfect driver again down the middle on a par 5, 2 up to 106 out, 3 somehow went over the green, but I got up and down for par.  13 I hooked the driver, hit the ball way off the toe and was just a miss hit.  Didn't hurt though, still had 110 out from the rough, which I put to 5ft, easy birdie.  14 was my only bogey for the day.  It was 300 down hill to reach the hazard, which I managed to do with driver.  3 hit right of the green, 4 onto the green and 2 putted.  15 is a long par 3 downhill but into the wind.  I hit my 4 iron well, but just a little right, so hit the bunker.  But I hit a good shot to 4 ft, easy par. 16 I hit driver, and actually pushed it about 5-10yds right of the line but stayed straight, so wasnt a horrible miss, had 50 out and put the shot to 5ft short of the pin, easy birdie.  17 long par 3 into the wind, hit 6iron right, but on the green.  Boring par.  18 had to hit a fade with the driver, which I did, but it stayed straighter than I hoped.  It was still in the fairway though, had 150 to pin, and made a boring par.  So, all in all, got 5 birdies and 1 bogey for a 68! Lowest round from the blues this summer!

Based on today's round, I'm going to try and play the same tomorrow and see if moving a bit further away from the ball really does help.  It feels a lot better at impact certainly, so I have high hopes.

phillyk

Game Plan - Sahalee

Warning- This is a long post!

As my last blog post stated, my game plan / course management for Oakbrook did not exist, so I'm going to do a little brain storming for Sahalee.  There are 3 different 9's, North, East, and South.  I don't know which nines are played each day, so I'll do all three, and I'm not 100% sure of the tee set, so I'm going to do the blue tee boxes.  I very highly doubt they'll play the tips, and I think it'll be a mix of white and blue tee boxes, but better to plan for a longer course thus leaving the blues.  All hole descriptions are from their website description and pictures.  They have a good course tour, website is www.sahalee.com

I have two game plans.  1) the attack one - to get between 75 and 130 out from the green which is my wedge / go zone or 2) more safe plays - to get less than 170 out, unless a dogleg makes me have a longer shot out.

North Course - 3377yds, 73.4/138
1) 397 - slight dogleg left, water surrounds green and 2 greenside bunkers; fairway opens more at 235yds; approach shot is slightly downhill
             1a) This is a prime 3W tee shot.  Its my old trusty club that I know can hit the fairway with.  I only expect 250 out of it on the first tee.  If 235 is accurate for where it opens up, I should have no problems.  This will leave me with no more than a 9iron into the green.

2) 538 - dogleg left, unclear how wide fairway is, but seems normal width for the course; 2 bunkers near green; green has a semicircle shelf on the back; there's a tree is the center of the fairway within 100yds of the green, which helps protect from getting on in two
             2a) I'm a little torn on this one.  I want to use a driver, but I don't hit the draw comfortably at the moment, so it might be just the 3W off the tee.  I'd like to be able to hit the green in two, but that tree doesn't look friendly, so it it should be fine just to play this one safe.

3) 429 - slight dogleg right, but mostly straight with 2 fairway bunkers at 260yds; tree just past bunker on right blocks approaches from right side and tree on left 100yds out from green blocks shots that go left; 2 bunkers just off front of the green
              3a) This is a good hole for my driver, my typical miss is a fade anyway. So I'm thinking just try to hit a straight shot or slight cut, and I should be fine.  This should leave me with no more than a 9iron into the green.  If I use 3W, it can also bring in the bunkers, but it also might not have enough to give me a clear shot at the green, so driver is the right play.

4) 169 - green slopes front to back; bunkers front left and right, and one off back
            4a) Depends on exact yardage, but it'll be between a 7-9iron

5) 370 - sharp dogleg left; landing area surrounded by four bunkers at 225yds; approach is protected by a tree short and right of the green
            5a) Depending on how wet the course is, it'll be either a 4iron or 3 driving iron off tee.  I need to make sure I have a look at the green after tee shot.  Another option is to hit 3W and hit over the bunkers with my normal shot, but I'll just have to make sure I know the carry and how far to go through the fairway.  Green looks accessible, so if my 3W has been hit well thus far, I may just go with that to try and give myself a good birdie opportunity.  If I'm unsure about it, it'll be the driving iron.

6) 396 - straight hole, but fairway narrows from trees at 265 from tee; elevated green guarded by two bunkers
            6a) Driver is too risky, 3W seems optimal here.  Just leave it short of the narrow point, and hopefully not be blocked by any trees for the approach, secondary option is driving iron which would still leave me with about 170 to the green.  Pretty straight forward hole I think.

7) 372 - dogleg right, fairway bunker at corner on right side; big fir tree blocks right side of fairway; green is two-tiered guarded by two front bunkers.
           7a) It's unclear how long it is to the end of the dogleg (I'll look it up on google earth later) but just based on yardage, I could use my driving iron or 4 iron.  Key here is to make sure I'm past the tree on the right, because it blocks any approach.  3W is a possibility if I'm sure of hitting a good cut, but I really don't want to hit through the fairway.

8) 173 - elevated tee box, water right, bunkers left and in back
            8a) Once again between a 7-9iron

9) 533 - dogleg left, uphill; landing area has bunker on left; fairway narrows from two large trees near the green; green is two-tiered and 120ft long with three bunkers
           9a) driver seems good here; a miss right doesn't look like it will hurt; Only tricky part seems to be the trees near the green that can block an approach, but otherwise looks like a good birdie hole.

 

East Course - 3377 73.4/138
1) 522 - Double dogleg, first to the right; 2 bunkers corner the fairway of the first dogleg beginning at 210 off the tee; second shot is downhill, optimal shot to the right of the fir tree guarding the left side; a lake begins at 100yds from the green on the left; green is very severely sloped
            1a) Tough starting hole to the east nine. Looks to be a driving iron off the tee and stay left of the bunkers, or I can hit a 3W cut over the bunkers, but I don't know that there is a huge advantage to that since I wouldn't get on in two anyway.  Just need a couple of well hit irons to get on the green.

2) 410 - straight hole, bunker on right side of landing zone at 240 from tee; large mound in front of green surrounded by 3 bunkers
            2a) A 3W looks optimal here unless I'm feeling good about the driver.   A 3W brings that trap into play and I also don't want to be on left side of fairway, because it'll be blocked by trees for the approach.  A driver can get past the bunker but brings that clump of trees on the left into play off the tee.  A driving iron wouldn't be too much fun here, so I'll most likely stick with the 3W.

3) 396 - dogleg to the right, bending at 225 from tee; downhill approach to green surrounded by 3 bunkers
           3a) Any shot right is doomed to fail and a drive too far will catch trees, so the optimal shot is a bending 3W or a driving iron in hope that I hit it far enough to have a shot at the green.  But I'm confident my 3W will be a good choice here. Driver is too much club for this hole. 

4) 186 - uphill to a two-tiered green, bunkers left and right of green
           4a) Between 5-7irons off the tee.

5) 514 - dogleg left; tee shot on right side will allow an attempt to get on in two; a bunker guards approach short and right; two more bunkers guard left and right of the green
           5a) Fir trees stick out on corner of dogleg on the left side, so I have to hit a driver down the right side.  I think a driver is a good club for this tee shot.  There isn't a ton of trouble on the hole, and even if I go left side of fairway, I can still get on in regulation.  A 3W would be fine, but it'll be a lot harder to get on in two if I wanted.

6) 400 - straight hole with a bunker on left side of landing zone; green guarded by bunkers left and right
           6a) 3W or Driver depending on how the clubs are behaving.  No real trouble except for the trap, which I'm not completely sure how far it is to clear.  So this hole is certainly a birdie opportunity with a good tee shot.

7) 382 - sharp dogleg right; corner begins at 225 from the tee with two bunkers guarding the corner; mounds on front and right side of green make for severely breaking putts
           7a) A driving iron should be fine here.  A 3W could be too much, but I'm not sure how long it is to the end of the fairway. I just have to be careful of the bunkers right, otherwise this hole is straight forward.

8) 177 - slightly uphill with three bunkers around the green; green is two-tiered
           8a) Between a 6-8iron looks good here.  Won't see the ball land, so seems like a good hole for a hole in one.

9) 405 - dogleg left with bunker on right side at corner 250 from tee box; approach is guarded by trees and two bunkers on front of green; mound on middle right of green makes for challenging putts.
           9a) Tough choice between the 3W and driving iron.  It will depend on the exact yardage to the bunker.  With a tree at the left edge of the corner, a very specific yardage is needed off the tee to have an attempt at the green.

 

South Course - 3377yds 73.4/138 (this hasn't changed from the other nine's so IDK what it is)
1) 397 - demands an accurate drive because of trees blocking right side and a bunker guarding left side at 250 from tee; green guarded by two front bunkers; mounds center left and back right on green
           1a) A 3W should land around the distance of that bunker, so a driving iron may have to be the play here.  I don't want to flirt with the bunker or right side so driver is also out.  I'll still have a mid iron into the green so it should be fine

2) 501 - dogleg left framed by trees left and right; approach guarded by a lake on the right side
            2a) I don't know the distance to the end of the fairway if hit straight, so this will either be a driver or 3W.  I'd like to hit the driver to give myself a good chance to attack the green in two.  But we'll see depending on that distance, either way, this should be an easy birdie hole.

3) 402 - slightly uphill bender to the right with fir trees guarding both sides of fairway; a tree 80 out from green guards left side of fairway
            3a) Lots of room on this tee shot, so 3W or driver is fine here.  I just want to give myself a good approach shot

4) 382 - straight hole; a tree sits on the right side of the fairway 225 out with a bunker just behind it; two-tiered green surrounded by three bunkers
            4a) Driving iron looks to be the optimal play here.  Hopefully I keep it to the left of that tree, but not too far left to be in the trees left of the fairway. 4 iron might work as well to stay short of that big tree but that'll leave me a little too far out for comfort.  I don't know that I want to hit 3W or driver in fear of hitting that tree and being completely blocked.

5) 175 - water front right and 3 bunkers surrounding the green
           5a) either a 7 or 8 iron will be good here

6) 510 - three bunkers down right side at landing zone and one left; drive should favor left side as a tree sits 175 out from green on right side
           6a) Its unclear how far the bunkers are, but it'll be worth the risk to hit driver here.  If I hit the fairway, I'll have a good opportunity to get on in two.  If I am in the bunker, it should be an easy out and still get on in regulation.

7) 405 - straight and slightly downhill; trees on right at 150 and again 275 from tee; three bunkers surround green
           7a) A 3W looks good here just to make sure I'm in the fairway or close to.  A driver can work as well so long as I feel good about it.  But looks like another straight forward hole.

8) 424 - dogleg right with trees right and three bunkers guarding the left side of the corner; fairway slops to the left; two bunkers guard the front of the green
           8a) Hmmm, interesting hole.  A driver will be optimal here and just hit a cut around the corner, or I can go with the 3W and hit short of the bunkers leaving a longer approach shot.  Once again, it'll come down to how I'm hitting those clubs that day.

9) 181 - lake left with a bunker just off the green left, bunker also short right; back drops off severely
          9a) Between a 6-8 iron off the tee

 

Conclusion 
Whereas most courses are known for challenging greens and approach shots, this course looks to make the challenge off the tee.  Very specific shots are needed on many holes, otherwise you're left with almost impossible approaches.  This cuts out how aggressive I can afford to be, so my game plan mostly consists of being safe and making sure I can see the green with my approach shot.  The par 5's are all really short, which hopefully means I will have good birdie opportunities there.  The par 3's aren't overly long, just some mid irons which should be fine.  The par 4's are all across the board.  Some easier than others.  So long as I can hit my tee shots properly, I should be in good shape to score well. 


Practice 
Obviously my practice will favor my longer clubs over the next week before the championship.

phillyk

Pro-am at Oakbrook GC

I played at RMG at Oakbrook on the 5th of October.  Most Pro-ams play at the tees around 6500yds, with pin locations set to moderate difficulty.

Up to this point, the strongest part of my game has been short irons and wedges.  The weak part of my game has been driver and long irons.  I believe this has been due to a poor rotation around my spine and maintaining that angle through impact, both of which have been getting much better.  I have a tendency to pull up a bit and mishit the longer clubs, with exception to my 3W.  For whatever reason my 3W is also one of my best clubs, I can hit any shot with it I want.  But, I have been working on keeping my right elbow "tucked" throughout the back swing, which helps me not over-swing as well as start my down stroke on a better plane.  My other piece I've been working on is not opening the club face on the way back (keeping it tow down).  So, going in to this pro-am I was feeling comfortable with most of my clubs, and hitting my longer irons a lot cleaner.  Driver has its moments.

Oakbrook has not aerated yet this fall, so the greens were smooth and running quick.  The course itself is flat and somewhat tree lined but the main issue is there is OB everywhere off the tee.  Any mishits are practically gone unless you are missing in the right spots.  With the course only at 6500yds, I could get away with long irons or 3W off most tees, but for whatever reason I did not do that at all... My course management was so bad that day.  I used driver almost every par 4, whether it was 330yds or 400yds.  With it being not terribly accurate / consistent, it was just a poor choice to use that day.  I guess I wanted to use it, because I was seeing good improvement and wanted to keep it going, but just a slight miss was going to cost me stroke and distance.  It was a good thing the rest of my game was doing well, for the most part.  One particular par 5 was at 490yds, driver left me in the right rough at 190 out, uphill to the green.  I used a choked up 5 iron to hit a high fade over the trees in front of me.  It was hit perfectly and landed a few feet past the pin and stopped, giving me a 5ft downhill slider for eagle.  I pulled the putt and tapped in for birdie.  But that was my only real putting mistake all day.  I was able to save par and get 2 other birdies on a lot of holes.  A lot of putts were just slightly off from making birdie.  I wouldn't say i was pulling or pushing them, just not quite getting the read down.  For 16 of the holes, play was average, I was hitting some good shots, some bad ones but I was sitting at +1. So, the score wasn't horrible.  But the other two holes......... crap.  I just can't get it into my head about what I was thinking.  First one is 329yd par 4 dogleg left.  OB left and long grass and OB straight and to the right.  Me, being a dummy, wanted to go for the green instead of a simple mid iron off the tee.  I set up like I wanted, but I knew instantly that I had kept the face open and it went straight into the long grass.  I never found it.  After hitting a provisional, the approach shot I skulled OB.... just a stupid shot, I don't know what happened, maybe I just got too quick because I was really upset about losing the ball.  Ended with a 7 on the hole.  The very next hole is a par 5 at 530yds.  I hooked the driver on the wrong hole, so it went OB through the trees.  Ended that hole with another 7, so I went +5 on 2 very easy holes to finish the round with a 77.  Should've been better, but hopefully I've learned my lesson.

My next tournament is the Chapter Championship and our Pro-Assist tournament in one at Sahalee!!  So I'm really excited to play there.  I've been looking over the course on their website, and it looks very tree lined and each hole has specific shots that are needed.  They strategically placed trees on some holes to only allow a certain shot type into the green.  Once again the yardage will only be around 6500yds, so not too long. My approach to the course is to play smart off the tee.  I know I'm comfortable inside 180yds, so if I'm not sure about the tee shot, I just need to play conservatively.  My boss, is a solid player as well, who can rack up a lot of birdies.  So, hopefully we'll give it a good run as a team.

My practice schedule is to do a lot more driver work and see if I can get the misses down a bit.  Obviously working with my turn around the spine is going to keep helping overall control.  I'm still very happy with my short iron and wedge performance, but I'll work to keep them solid.  My course just aerated so it might be tough to work on short game but I can work on that at home.  

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