June 22, 2013

A nod to Wilson Pickett and Creedence Clearwater Revival for the title of this post – that be some great ol’ R & B there, ain’t it? They just don’t make ’em like that anymore. Lemme hear you say “yeah”!

But I digress.

As I’ve always said, the scorecard doesn’t lie, and today’s 48 + 51 = 99 at Superstition Springs Golf Club is, as they say, what it is. Good enough to drop my unofficial handicap below 28, which is something I wanted to do before Goodboys Invitational weekend. I’ve mentioned several times this year about my outings that I feel like I hit the ball better than I scored. Well, today was the exact opposite, where the scorecard betrayed a lot of scrambling, and this was a scrambling sub-100 round if there ever was one. If you had told me I would hit only three fairways (one via a solid skull on 18) and rack up another 40+ putt round (41), I would have guessed something in the 110 or above range. But this is a new Great White Shank, and if there’s one word that describes my game at this point it is dogged persistence, and that’s where I was all day long.

Actually, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. The three fairways hit belies the fact I was just off on six others (we play an honest brand of golf here, folks!) and actually drove through the fairway with driver on #11 and #13, something I never actually thought was possible, at least for me (more on that later). And while the putting was definitely not what I wanted it to be, I was actually pretty comfortable with that Ping Scottsdale all day; I just never adjusted to the speed of the Superstition Springs greens, leaving lots of downhill putts short and hitting my uphill putts too hard. It didn’t help that my chipping got a little sloppy on the back nine, but that’s what rocket-fast greens and 104 degree temperatures will do to you over time. I hit a season-high 10 holes at bogey or better and didn’t have a hole score higher than a seven (three of the four par 5s).

If there is one area of concern it was an omnipresent draw / hook / “rights” that crept into my game almost from the start. Which was weird, because the only word that describes my pre-round warm-up was “pure”. Back in the pre-Alex Black days if there was I was one thing I was familiar with, it was being on the left side of the fairway, either deliberately (playing a cut), or a big push that in less ambitious moments was nothing more than a glorified shank. Now I find myself battling a pull right that in finer moments can be called a power draw or, at most inopportune moments, a duck hook that I can’t stand – hell, I’d rather hit and be able to play a bona fide slice! My partner for this year’s Goodboys, Steve “Killer” Kowalski, says a hook is the mark of a good player (it tells you you’re really coming through the ball, which I am) but that doesn’t make me feel better.

If there was one new variable entered into today’s round it was replacing old reliable orange Wilson Staff 50 balls for Callaway Hex Diablos. The consumer reports I’d read were intriguing, and they definitely lived up to their advance billing:

The s-Tech core has a lower compression and is highly resilient. This combination provides extremely soft feel off the clubface, improves accuracy and provides fast ball speeds that maximize distance.

The first time I hit this ball I noticed a huge difference in feel and flight, and was stone in love with them from the git-go. For better or worse, they absolutely jump off any club face they come in contact with, and I used that performance for a lot of great approach shots from Palookaville. Those drives through the fairway on #11 and #13 were, I’m positive, purely the result of the Callaways, and I’m sure my putting performance had something to do with them as well, for I found balls flying past holes I was sure (and then verified) that the orange Wilsons would leave short and then got tentative on everything after that.

All in all, there’s no complaining about a 99, but I’m left with more of a sense it could have been a whole lot worse than a whole lot better. There’s certainly more work to do around the chipping/putting green with the new Callaways, and I’ve got Alex Black on speed dial to try and help me through this attack of the “rights” (once a conservative, always a conservative, I guess!). But I feel I did a good job today, both on my set-up and course management, and anytime you can break 100 at Superstition Springs you’re doing something right. I’m just glad I won’t be seeing this course anytime soon – whether you shoot a 112 or a 99, you feel like you worked your ass off to make that score.

I’ve got one more round in Arizona before I head back to New England for Goodboys Invitational weekend and all the preparation I’m planning. Hard to believe that a month from today the clubs will be at a UPS store for the trip back here and then won’t see the light of day for months. It’s been a really great and a grinding experience, and I’m looking forward to both seeing just where all this work leads come Goodboys weekend and a much-needed break from all things golf.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 00:24 | Comments Off on 99 (And a Half) Won’t Do
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