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.
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!
* 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