I finally got around to playing 18 holes of golf with only 4 clubs this morning - something I've wanted to do since early in the season. My goal was to keep the score to within 5 of my average. The 4 hybrid and 9i were shoo-ins. The 4h because I seem to hit it well, and the 9i because I can use for a short bump-and-run all the way up to a 130 yard full swing. I then had to decide on two more. I decided to bench my gap wedge, which is the go-to club from 100 yards and in, and go with the sand wedge instead. The reason being too much roll on short sided flag locations seem to be costing me strokes. Perhaps forcing myself to use a more lofted wedge would be beneficial.
Last, I decided to go with the putter and disregard @boogielicious' advice to learn to putt with a wedge instead. This would have allowed another option for the full swing. I have to admit there was little chance the putter would be left behind. It's not that I'm at all good with the putter, but it's used from off the green a lot and it's better than trying to putt with any other club. That would turn out to be far from the truth.
The first 9
The first two holes were pretty typical, a couple of bogeys that resulted from less than perfect tee shots. Still, I felt pretty good about how the round was going. Then came the par 5 3rd.
Two beautiful 4-hybrid shots left me with a short approach of around 90 yards. Time to test the SW on a shot I'd have used the GW for all-day-long. Good contact, high, and right at the flag, 2 putt for par.
Nice, I thought. Not a bad start and everything felt good. Next up were three par 4's in a row followed by a par 5. The hybrid felt really good off the tee and whenever I needed less than a full swing, the club responded very well as did the SW and the 9i. I would hit GIR's on those next four holes. My full swing and partial swings were golden.
But the golf gods giveth and they taketh.
The first par 4 had a pin location to the front of a very fast downhill green and my partial hybrid approach had found the back. To be honest, I was ok with the 3-putt bogey in this situation. Besides, the way I was striking the ball, I'd make up for it with subsequent pars.
The pin location on the next par 4 was uphill with my SW approach landing about 25 feet below. The lag putt can only be politely described as wimpy. It wasn't a poor read, or a bad bead, I just didn't get anywhere near the speed I knew was needed to get it close. 3-putt number 2.
Despite temps in the 30's, I was starting to get warm under the collar. It was hard to enjoy one of my best ball striking rounds when I couldn't close the deal. But c'mon, that was only two holes. Surely the putting would get back on track.
The next par 4 included a beautiful partial hybrid, a flighted 9 iron below the pin... and three more putts including a miss from 18".
In all fairness, I shouldn't have hit the green on the next par 5. The 4h approach to the green started a bit right, but a tree branch deflected it to the green. There was no way the golf gods were going to let this bit of luck remain unpunished. Hence, a nice 4-putt and my first double of the day.
The second 9
Instead of describing each of the next 9 holes, I'll only say that the golf gods had a hard-on for me today. Sure, they'd allowed decent putting this second time through the 9 hole course, but as if to say "you didn't think we were just going to give good putting back to you" they made sure to take away the good ball striking. The hole where I got my only par on first 9 resulted in a 10 the second time through. The comedy of errors leading to that wonderful score included playing bloody knuckles (literally) with two oak trees when I tried to punch out an errant 4 hybrid shot from between them.
Eat $#!^ and die, golf gods!
As for the four-club "challenge", it should have been more fun than it was, but that's on me. There were positives...
• My goal was to keep the score within 5 of my average and I kept it to within 1.
• I not only hit the ball solidly on most shots, I was able to adjust and control distance, and even shape a couple of shots.
• In many situations, the SW is a better club than the GW around the green.
• The 7 GIRs is the highest I've had in some time - and there were several nGIR as well.
• The round didn't cause me to putt more poorly than usual, the GIRs only exposed my poor putting. High GIR = more putts unless you're good at both.
This round also backed up what I believe to be true. Using a safer, shorter club off the tee doesn't guarantee a better score for everyone. I hit 71% of my fairways today, did not get any penalties, and still failed to break 95.
Instead of leaving the driver at home, maybe I should become as skilled with that club as I am with the 4 hybrid.