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More peaks and valleys than a heartbeat readout...




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

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

Hole #1 - Par 4 - 355 Yards

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

Hole #2 - Par 3 - 165 Yards

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

Hole #3 - Par 5 - 504 Yards

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

Hole #4 - Par 4 - 331 Yards

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

Hole #5 - Par 4 - 389 Yards

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

Hole #6 - Par 3 - 179 Yards

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

Hole #7 - Par 5 - 486 Yards

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

Hole #8 - Par 4 - 397 Yards

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

Hole #9 - Par 4 - 342 Yards

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

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

Hole #10 - Par 4 - 349 Yards

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

Hole #11 - Par 4 - 401 Yards

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

Hole #12 - Par 3 - 164 Yards

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

Hole #13 - Par 5 - 525 Yards

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

Hole #14 - Par 4 - 339 Yards

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

Hole #15 - Par 5 - 462 Yards

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

Hole #16 - Par 4 - 309 Yards

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

Hole #17 - Par 3 - 138 Yards

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

Hole #18 - Par 4 - 312 Yards

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

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

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

Until then...




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