May 22, 2016

Days until Goodboys Invitational weekend: 54
Location: Trilogy Golf Club at Power Ranch
Score: 44 + 50 = 94
Handicap: 25.2 / Trend: 24.8 (-0.4)

(A big nod to Frank for the post title.)

Day two of my golf weekend began exactly the way day one ended: fighting my swing on the range as I warmed up for my round at Trilogy at Power Ranch. It was going to be another windy, dusty day out there, and I’m guessing the conditions scared a lot of folks away because today I was going to be playing all by myself. Halfway through the small bucket that featured a couple of shanked pitching wedges and yanked drivers, I figured I could just as well work on my swing on the course as I could at the range, so I saddled on up and headed on out.

A pulled drive on #1 required a lay-up, then a sculled pitching wedge (at least it wasn’t shanked) led to a two-putt for double bogey. On the short par-4 second my drive went way OB into the houses left. But a miraculous 5-iron recovery left me twelve feet for par which I two-putted for bogey. To say I was scrambling would be an understatement.

But golf is a funny game. Whenever you think you’ve mastered it, it comes back to bite you. At the moment you think you’re playing like the Titanic in iceberg-filled waters, the fog raises and lo, there’s an island with palm trees and cabana bar chicks just off to starboard. On the 580-yard par-5 third, I hit the best drive of the weekend, then followed it up with a pulverized 5-wood to 70 yards. I yanked my pitching wedge wide right, then came up short with a sand wedge, then chipped to one foot for a bogey six. Disappointing, for sure, but some kind of switch had been turned on, and by the turn I had gone bogey-bogey-bogey-bogey-bogey-par (the 596 yard par-5 that I missed a three-foot putt for birdie) then bogey before missing a three-footer for bogey on nine.

The key to my game is my tee game. Yesterday (and a bit of today) aside, if I can keep my drives out of trouble I have enough of an iron game and a short game to play consistent bogey golf. Yesterday, all aspects of my game were off. Today, starting on #3 most of it came back from out of the blue. Confidence, I think, plays a big part – if you can start putting one good swing on top of another you just ride the wave until you either hit the shore or get pounded on the rocks.

I hit my drive OB on #10, but after that I drove the ball longer and more consistent than I have all year. Still playing alone, I played two balls on the 560-yard par-5 thirteenth and made birdie with my first ball and missed a four-footer for birdie with the second. The only hiccup – and it was a big one – was on the #1 hardest hole on the course, the 419-yard par 4 sixteenth which is a slightly winding uphill hole with a diabolical green set on a hill that slides right to left. Following a center-cut drive I had 205 to the pin. A pulverized 5-wood left me pin high on the right, but above the hole in the rough between the green and a set of trees.

It really wasn’t rough my ball had come to rest on, it was actually hard-pan. Looking back, maybe putter might have been a better choice but it wasn’t an obvious choice. I grabbed my pitching wedge and the following comedy of errors ensued:
* Chip runs past the hole and down into a grass bunker left
* Chip back runs past the hole and over the green into a grass bunker right
* Chip runs past the hole into the same grass bunker two shots ago
* Chip runs over the green into the same grass bunker two shots ago
* Chip barely makes it onto the green, leaving me a 20-foot putt
* Sink the putt for a crowd-pleasing quad bogey eight.

And just like that I was back to scrambling my way to the clubhouse. I was fortunate to bogey the par-5 #17 after a crappy drive and my only real poor course management error of the day, a recovery 5-wood that went straight into the trees and dropped onto hard pan. But a solid 5-iron left me 70 yards to the pin and I sand wedged it to six feet for a two-putt. A solid drive on #18 led to a bogey for a 50, but take a couple of strokes off of the #16 debacle and I’m right around shooting ninety.

Sitting the cool darkness of the Trilogy grill over a burger and an icy-cold Sam Summer – as enjoyable an experience as a round of golf itself – I looked at my cards from yesterday and today and tried to find a common theme. And I think it all evolves around trust: trusting my swing, and trusting the changes I’ve been making. Yesterday’s abysmal set-up and alignment issues were all about not trusting; today I think I made some progress in that regard but there’s clearly still a ways to go.

I guess that’s the nature of my game, at least at the present time – it’s all or nothing at all. And the secret, I guess, is that when things are going good just ride the wave, and when you feel you have nothing do whatever it is you got to do to survive until it all comes back again.

There’s lots of outside house work to be done next Memorial Day weekend, so the plan is to return to Stonecreek in two week’s time and see where the game stands after a well-deserved break. By then there will be less than seven weeks to Goodboys Invitational weekend. Am I in a good spot? It’s really hard to say, but at least my handicap trend is running in the right direction – my handicap index is down nearly two points since last year’s Goodboys Invitational.

Filed in: Golf Quest,Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 20:05 | Comments Off on All Or Nothing At All
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