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Great Starts and Great Finishes



A recent round reminded me that the game of golf consists of 18 holes.  A great start rarely ensures a satisfactory final result.  I started out with 2 birdies and managed to make the turn at +1, only to fall on my face on the back nine.  

Some years ago I started a round with an unusual string of “3, 3, 3” on a course that began par-5, par-4 and then par-3.  I don’t think I broke 40 on the front side or 80 for the round.

Of course, I don’t toss away all rounds when I make a fast start.  Still, it seems to be that hanging on to a good start is often much harder than rallying to save something.  The quick start tends to make many of us more cautious, for fear we will waste the good position we find ourselves in mid-round.  I have always felt the expression, “fear of going low” was pretty true for many of us amateurs.  Early success can lead to overly cautious play and heightened nerves.

The opposite seems to occur when we need to rally.  Since there is no great score to “save”, we relax and just go for it.  My most recent win in our club’s tournament series is a great example.  I had stumbled my way to a +4 on the opening nine.  I was going nowhere and just relaxed on the back.  As soon as I thought I had shot myself out of the event, I got on a roll.  An inward 34, including a birdie on the final hole, won the event.  It was totally unexpected as I had no idea what I had scored for the back nine.

So that is my story for today.  Anyone have a tale of triumph or woe to share?  Who has tamed the mental side of the game?


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I seem to have at least 3 "stories" to tell with my game through a round of 18 holes. The first few holes might be one story, and the finishing holes might be another.... but in between, I might get into two or three other patterns of play: a double-bogey train, a string of pars, whatever.

Last round, i was proud because I double-bogey'ed 1&2. I started to feel the day was toast already, but fought that off and just stayed with it. Although I parred 3, I hit my tee shot on 4 OB. It pretty much felt like I had double-bogeyed the 3rd hole too, since I was essentially +6 after 3 holes (still on the tee on the 4th hole because of the OB).

I settled down and "parred" that hole from there (actually a double-bogey), then parred the next 3 holes to get right back into the realm of "bogey golf," my standard these days. It felt like an achievement just to claw back so soon, and I thought "hey, this game's easy."

Famous last words.

The last two holes on the front nine are really easy, and I played them in +3, I think. Duh. The rest of the round was not memorable, but I got around just ok enough.

So not a tale of a great start or great finish, but an example of relaxing and not giving up after a bad start. You never know when you can get hot. I truly felt like after my bounce-back after that OB that I could've parred a bunch of holes the rest of the round, but it wasn't to be. Next round!

(I also wanted to bump this post, so people can see it again. I always enjoy hearing people's rounds where crazy starts/finishes happen. C'mon people!)

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Thanks for the comments. When I started posting "blog" posts I made a mental commitment to myself that I would post something on a semi-regular basis.  It is embarrassing at how few golf-related ideas one has over the course of a month. 

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Yah, I'm discussing with Erik now about some blog-style posts I could do more in the area of analyzing your rounds (stat tracking/game improvement), and that's my biggest "concern." Concern is too strong a word, but I wouldn't know if I had more than just a few mildly interesting things to say, to a select number of geeks. I'll likely run with it until I'm outta gas. But I enjoy the topics you tend to pick, so good luck keeping them rolling along. Good stuff.

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I struggle with this on a regular basis.  It seems like there is no real continuity in my rounds.  I've had rounds that I've started horribly and then played fair and finished strong.  I've had rounds where I've started strong, fallen apart and then salvaged it with some okay play at the end.  I've had rounds where things have been poor all the way around.  It just seems to be a matter of letting go of the bad holes.

I played a tournament on Monday and I started with a bogey and a double.  For me... that's about average.  I then reeled off par on 4 straight holes.  Over the next 3 holes, I went triple - birdie - triple.  3 more pars were followed by a bogey and then I finished out my round with par - bogey - triple - bogey - par.  

I think the biggest thing for me was not letting the triples carry over to the next hole.  I caught a pair of breaks after my last triple because I made a stupid play from the tee and got a lucky kick into the fairway and then made an necessarily aggressive play from there that worked out but could have cost me.  In the end, I did enough to win the C Flight by 2 strokes, but I've got plenty of tales from the past where I've taken a triple and then made a foolish play on the next hole and then compounded my mistakes.

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This reminds me of my personal best 91 (take it easy I'm a 23). My usual goal is to just break 100 and I usually fall prey to checking my score around the 14th hole or so. This day I went into the last 3 holes at Van Cortlandt (which I usually play pretty well) with an 80 and I think "I'm obviously breaking 100 today" so I just relaxed and parred the last 3 holes. Funny thing too is that I didn't think I hit any "great" shots every shot just had a purpose and NONE of them were bad.

The next week I'm Playing at Pelham Bay and shoot a 45 on the front. The back is easier and only par 35 so I just need all bogies. Long story short 7 bogeys, 2 doubles (also 2 3 putts) and I have another 91. School is done on Tuesday (I'm a teacher who sneaks off to the range during lunch break) so maybe Wednesday I'll break 90?

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