Target Handicap: 18.1
Location: Stonecreek Golf Club
Score: 57 + 52 = 109
Handicap: 24.1 / Trend: 23.6 (unchanged)
So close, then again so far away
Where are the answers, I hear them everyday — Stephen Stills, “Sugar Babe”
I’m not gonna use the fact that, thanks to a major intrastate road closure (only in Arizona have I ever seen them close an entire road on a weekend for paving), I never had a chance to warm up before teeing it up at Stonecreek Golf Club this past Saturday. That being said, I went the entire round feeling as if I hadn’t hit a golf ball for a year even though it had only been nine days since my last outing at Superstition Springs, and I have to think being able to warm up properly would have shaved a few strokes off the 109 I ended up shooting.
It was a strange day, to say the least. The short game was OK – there were a couple of flubs but that’s going to happen even on the best of days. The 34 putts I made weren’t all that bad (especially given the fact I had a four putt from sixteen feet – don’t ask!). But my game from inside 110 yards was inexplicably bad – perhaps the worst it has been all year. And this on a day when I drove the ball arguably the best I have all year. I was playing with a twelve and a fourteen handicap (Paul and Craig from Washington state, nice guys) and consistently out-drove them all day, anywhere from five to ten yards. The scorecard will show I hit only seven fairways, but except for one hole where I ended up in a sand trap, if I didn’t hit a fairway, believe me I was just off.
So I put myself in position all day long. On par 4s I was sitting anywhere from 110 to (on the longer ones) as much as 160 yards away. On the par 5s, after two shots I had no more than 150 yards away on all three. But I could not hit a green to save my life, and on several cases I couldn’t get it on the green after two additional tries. It was very frustrating to say the least.
Case in point hole #10, a tough hole that is all downhill until a ditch, after which it goes uphill to an elevated green. I nailed my drive center-cut, leaving me 148 to the pin. I chunked my 6-iron, then, with no more than 60 yards left, chunked my pitching wedge into the ditch. Took my drop, hit the next one just off the green, then chipped it to six inches for a crowd-pleasing seven. I just cannot be doing that kind of thing if I want to make my “Six Strokes Across America” tour a success! There was also a hole on the front nine where I lost my swing completely, shanking two pitching wedges into first a sand trap, and then a pond, but I was able to recognize I was over-swinging and jumping at the ball and (sort of) got it back under control on the next hole. And on the back nine, outside of that tenth hole and the eighteenth where I did the exact same thing, I was able to fairly well right the ship.
Of course, there were a couple of holes where my course management contributed to a couple of extra strokes, but that’s something I just have to recognize will always be an issue from time to time. But not hitting my irons crisply like I’ve been doing over the past two months is more of a concern, and you can bet I’ll be hitting the range a couple of times before I head out to play again. I simply have to learn to convert those opportunities when I have a chance to get on (or at least closely near) a green in regulation. I can’t let those kinds of opportunities slip past me if I hope to get my game to the next level.