After the stellar 75, I followed with rounds of 81, 78 (1 birdie, no doubles, bogey-bogey from both fairways finish), and another 78 on a tough course (3 birdies with a double bogey-bogey finish). This last round, despite 2 doubles, was about playing golf (not playing swing) and making good decisions in tough conditions. Let me set it up for you guys.
I arrived at the course early and hit about 25 balls into a significant left to right wind. This is my least favorite wind, but I was there to warm up, not practice so I didn't let the fading ball flight get into my head. I hit a few wedges, a couple of 7 irons, the hybrid, and a couple of 3 wood and driver tee shots. I didn't fight the wind, I just wanted to get the feel of what swing I brought to the course today and to establish some rhythm. I then putted from 3 feet and 6 feet holing at least 3 each and then a few from 20 for speed. Finally I chipped with the 54 to get some feel and off to the first tee. This is a pretty typical warm-up hitting the essential shots and seeing who showed up.
The first tee shot was fairway and set up a missed u/d, while the second hole I made the u/d from a few feet off with a 5 footer. The short par 4 third left me with 90 yards into a quartering wind and normally I would hit a stock 58, but went to a smooth 54 with the ball slightly back with the idea of a 90% back swing and stay down through the shot. The flighted wedge held its line and set up 10 feet for a birdie. The next hole was straight downwind and I hit a solid 7 180 yards (stock 7 is 165) with a 2 putt. Nothing eventful happened until the par 5 when I stuck my pw into the ground from 130 (it happened) and was so bad it missed the pond in front of the green. A little flick with the 58 to a 15 foot side hill putt which slid and I was left with a 3 footer, I rushed to finished and lipped out for a double. So in essence a fairway flub and a lazy routine cost me 2 shots. The following par 4 tee shot found the left bunker and I decided that a 5 iron into the wind with the lake running the entire right side was a great idea and that shot crossed the hazard resulting in dropping 70 yards from the pin. Another 58 flick to 4 feet for a saved bogey. A solid u/d on the long par 3 into the wind and a missed u/d on the 9th led to a 40. I hit 5/7 fairways and only 2 greens so I was really happy.
I start the back with routine par, hit hybrid on the very short 300 yard par 4 and I have 105 left into the wind. I took the same swing I did on the third hole with the 50 and was left 20 feet under the hole. My partner makes from just behind me so I pick the line for birdie #2. A routine par with a well struck knockdown 8 iron from the fairway is followed by a bogey. We have a short rain delay and now the wind is a solid 3 clubs. The next hole is 370 into the teeth so I grip down a bit, move the ball back slightly and hit it about 230 (one of my best placed tee shots of the day) leaving a 140 yard 7 iron punch that landed 20 feet past the pin and another key par. The next hole was 170 uphill with a hurting wind and a solid 5 iron under the hole and birdie #3. I par 16 with an off the fringe u/d and then I am on 17 facing a tee shot into a now 2 club wind. I choked down with ball slightly back again, cut off my back swing somehow and cold topped it into the lake 20 yards away. Re-tee and walk with double and on 18 I hit the fairway bunker, laid up this time and made bogey. So I was 3 over for the first 16 and 3 over for the last 2.
Overall the 78 (4.3 differential) was a really good round but what really got me was that I only hit 6 greens so how did that happen? Well it was the ball striking. Given the wind, I never missed in a place that didn't leave an easy chip or in some cases a putt from the fringe so I really managed my game well. Aside from getting cute with a stuck wedge, unrealistic fairway bunker shot, and the cut off tee shot, I was proud of being able to manage in such difficult conditions. I didn't have real high expectations, kept my swing within myself, and felt like I stayed down through the shots for solid contact which allowed me to flight my ball when needed. Oh, and those 3 and 6 footers I made before the round gave me the confidence I needed to make a few putts (28 total, 9 one putts). Progress is being made!