Hard to believe that August is already upon us. The Florida summer is still sweltering, you ever feel that you’re more sweaty after your shower than before? That said, I have only a week or so of “extra” golfing time left in the summer. There’s travel for business and then school where I have a long commute with my son. It’s been a great summer of working on the game, working on my strength, seeing where that takes me. I’m sure I’ll have a few more rounds, then it will be on to watching more golf than playing, and probably more interesting things for you to read!
Morning round at Deltona today. Really I’m in “swing” mode rather than “score” mode right now – working on getting more width/separation with the arms. Today’s round was a very mixed bag. I have to feel pretty good about 10 pars, the scrambling was really on (7/13 – 53%). I generally missed in in good places, many of the up and downs were pretty straight forward. Putting was good from short range to save the pars, but awful from long range (3 three-putts – 4 if you include one from the fringe). I really gave it away on three holes:
Hole 1: Decent but shortish drive to right fairway. 180 yds left, and I made poor contact on my 4-hybrid off a little side slope. Came up short left in some thick wet morning bermuda rough. Lots of green to work with, but it came out hotter than I expected and it rolled all the way off the back of the green. 3-putted from the back fringe for an opening double bogey.
Made good scrambling pars on #2 and #3 – not hard shots, but felt pretty good to chip it up and make the putts.
Nuked my drive on the long 4th, but I was playing for my usual fade, and instead it was a draw. Ended up in the right rough, and made a mistake to try and go for it and smothered it into a fairway bunker, about 60 yards short of the green but completely stymied by a big live oak. Punched it through a gap, still well off the green. Fluffed a pitch from there to still be off the green, and took three to get down. That’s a triple bogey with no penalty shots.
Determined to settle down and not compound the issue, I got up on the par5 5th hole and told myself to just smooth the drive, don’t even entertain going for it in two. I got too smooth, and hooked another drive, this one settling a yard out of bounds. Wow – the kiss of death – following up mistakes with more mistakes. Bogeyed the hole with the next ball for a second triple in a row. So – I’m now sitting at my handicap (+8) after 5 holes.
Had a very long talk with myself before the next hole (yes I talk to myself on the course) and remembered to be smooth, but aggressive through the ball. Don’t quit on it, get to the front side, all that jazz. Something clicked, as I parred 5 of the next 6 holes.
On #12, I experienced what I’m now identifying as one of my true problem areas. I had missed the green left after a great break on the drive that kept it in the fairway, but a pulled 8-iron. Was a pretty straightforward pitch, that I was happy to leave about 3-4 feet. I’ve noticed that I have a really hard time getting comfortable on these, when they are about 4 feet and hooking (breaking left to right remember I’m a lefty). I try to aim left edge and firm. If I go outside left edge, I invariably leave it high, but if I include it anywhere in the hole, I tend to pull it low. I missed this one badly low, never even scared the hole. We’ll revisit this later…
Another bogey at #13 after a 3-putt, birdie putt from over 40-feet just missed but was 6-8 feet long, and missed it coming back.
Great 3-hybrid from 215yds downhill on #14 to about 12 feet, but couldn’t hit the birdie putt.
Bogey on #15 when the up and down putt horseshoed, but I hit it well.
Playing #16 par 5 – hit three wood to keep it in the fairway and split the middle. Second shot was flared left into the fairway bunker, and had to manufacture a punch 6-iron below two trees from 120 yards that found the green, very happy with that! First putt was good speed for once, but wide right and left the same 3-4 foot hooking putt as I had on #12, and I proceeded to miss it exactly the same way. Pulled low and never scared the hole.
As I am by myself, first off, there’s noone around, so I started to experiment with this putt. I may have hit 5-6 putts before I finally made it – from 4 feet! I hit some cross handed, some regular grip, some high, some low. Finally, I took page out of my buddy Bruce’s book and putted it one handed, and drilled it in the middle. I hit four more in a row like that before I did finally miss one. I’ve experimented with the one-handed putting before, and it definitely takes the “hit” out of the stroke. I made a big mental note, and next time I am facing a short hooking putt, I’m going to think about hitting it one-handed.
Finished 17 and 18 with good up-and-downs for par and felt really good about the scrambling, but pretty disappointed with the rest of the game. Hung in there for 85 after opening +8 through 5 holes, which to reference a previous post, means my bad rounds are getting better.
Handicap at the end of July 2014: 7.8
First time I’ve been below 8 since the 90’s when I was playing all the time. So, I’m pleased that the variance is getting better. Hope to get 4-5 more rounds in before my summer “cramming” is done!