May 28, 2016

Days until Goodboys Invitational weekend: 49
Location: Superstition Springs Golf Club
Score: 54 + 55 = 109
Handicap: 25.4 / Trend: 25.6 (+0.2)

I’m so glad Exec-Comm finally published last year’s Goodboys Invitational scores, – three tough courses for sure – so that all the Goodboys know where they stand before I assume the role of Gaming Commissioner for this year’s 26th annual shindig. For me, the adjustment didn’t turn out so bad – now I only have to break 100 to lower my handicap, whereas before the handicap system had me needing to break 94 – something that, based on yesterday’s outing at Superstition Springs, ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

It’s not that I played awful – it would have interesting to see what I might have scored at another course – but I played what they call “Superstition Springs awful”, where getting off the tee isn’t necessarily so hard, but accuracy with your approach shots from 140 yards in is beyond essential. And here is where I gamely fought an iron game that has suddenly gone south, taking my short game along with it.

Take hole #1, a dogleg right up the hill to a green well-protected on the left by sand traps and on the right by deep grass bunkers. I split the fairway leaving 160 yards to the pin. My 5-iron approach took a long, limp trajectory into the sand, leaving me both short-sided and a with a down-hill lie fifteen feet from the pin. Now I will say this: my sand game, as with the rest of my short game, has been pretty damned jake lately, but this was an impossible task to pull off, even for me. Which I nearly did – emphasis on nearly. I strode to #2 with a double-bogey.

On #2, a straight 383-yard par four, a big pull left me only 105 yards to the pin. I grab pitching wedge and proceed to shank it (yes!) into a deep grass bunker in front of the green. Another double. A big, fat 5-iron on the par-3 third left me 50 yards to the pin but two duffed sand wedges and three putts later I’m looking at three opening sixes on my scorecard. Another split fairway on #4 was followed by a shanked 9-iron (where did this come from??) into the canal, but a do-over left me only two feet for bogey (that’s more like it!). Which I miss for another six.

Now normally sixes aren’t bad numbers on a scorecard for me, especially if they’re interspersed with the occasional four and five for good measure, but such was not to be the case on this occasion. For the first time in my golfing career I drove to #9 with a card reading 6-6-6-6-6-6-6-6. My playing partner Rich suggests I miss my one-footer on nine for double-bogey and another six if only to break the monotony of it all.

“Don’t laugh”, says I. “I might just do that.” I don’t.

Driving to #10 I know I can’t possibly play any worse than I did on the front – no iron game, no short game, a tentative putter (17 putts) – and yet I’ve still got the back nine which, with the exception of a hole or two each time out, I’ve pretty much torn apart this year. I bogey #s 10-13 (even though it took a couple of miraculous shots that I had absolutely no business making to get me there but did), and I was feeling fairly stoked as I strode to the 14th tee.

Due to the lack of rainfall this winter, the 361-yard, par 4 #14 at the Springs has lost a lot of its teeth. There’s still that pond on the left, of course, but there’s a lot more fairway than there used to be. And you don’t want to go right on your approach either, because then you’re either hitting out of sand or hard-pan downhill with the pond lurking on the other side of the green. After splitting the fairway with my best drive of the day, with only 134 yards to the pin and a 7-iron in my paws, I do both. First, a banana shank into the pond (“Doug, eres un culo de caballos!”), then a yank pulled so far right that it splits a couple of trees put there purely for aesthetics and bounds into a canal. Can you say quad bogey?

I bravely par the 215-yard par 3 #15 but the starch is out of my shorts. I actually bogeyed the always brutal, water everywhere #17, but that was only because a mis-hit pitching wedge sculled short of the water, and playing #16 and #18 I added four more lost balls to make it nine for the day. Still, there were no tantrums, no moaning or groaning – my playing partners were having issues of their own – so we enjoy the day for what it is with more than our share of laughs.

“We could be working stiffs.”, says Rich.

“Heck, we could even be golfers.”, says I.

Back in the cool of the grille over a frosty Sam Adams Boston Lager and a delightful bowl of chili, I review the carnage. For whatever reason, my iron play has been slipping a little more over the past four times out and I’m plum out of ideas as to why. I’m sure a 3 AM call to Hunter Mahan to review the particulars of his iconic February 2015 GOLF Magazine article would help, but he ain’t gonna want to hear from the likes of me. Could also be time for a session with my swing coach Alex Black, but what if I can save a few sheckels and figure things out at the range?

Either way, I know I gotta get my you-know-what together, and pronto, because the calendar ain’t lyin’, and seven weeks from today I’ll be knee-deep in the 2016 Goodboys Invitational with no place to run and no place to hide.

Filed in: Golf Quest,Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 12:06 | Comments Off on If You Can’t Solve The Puzzle, Then Shut Your Muzzle
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