July 1, 2017

Days until the 2017 Goodboys Invitational: 20
Location: Stonecreek Golf Club
Score: 53 / 55 = 108
Handicap: 23.9 / Trend: 24.2 (+.03)

Going into today’s round I really felt good about my game and the direction it was heading. Standing on the first tee at Stonecreek Golf Club, not only had I’d had three solid range sessions since last Saturday’s round at Trilogy Power Ranch, but I’d had absolutely the best warm-up I can remember having. Stonecreek has always been a tough course for me, but I felt like I was prepared for a good round, and everything was clicking.

Everything, that is, until I yanked my first drive of the day so far right I didn’t even bother looking for it.

And yanked my second drive of the day into a pond.

And yanked a 5-iron far right off the tee on the par 3 third.

Mind you, I hadn’t hit yanks like that since my two rounds in Vegas back in January when I was sick. Starting off bogey / triple / double was clearly not what I had in mind. I’d worked so damned hard on my driver this week, and this is what I get for all that hard work? Still, the situation hadn’t gone totally condition red: I’d made some nice swings to minimize the damage on those holes, and I’d actually settle into a nice groove by the time I found myself smack-dab in the middle of the ninth fairway, 132 yards from the pin. Over the past four holes I’d righted the ship, bogeying two of the last four holes, (including the #1 handicap hole), and would have at least bogeyed the eighth if a crushed 5-wood destined for the center of the green hadn’t hit a bunker rake (of all things) and careened waaay far right. My short game was, of course, MIA, and my putting back to its typical atrocious state (clearly, that hadn’t carried over from last week), but still, I was sitting at 46 with a good chance at a 50 or, at worst, a 51. I could still shoot a low number on the back and turn it into a decent round.

I still don’t know what happened. My playing partner Greg gave me the distance – 132 yards. There was sand both left and right of the green, but the pin was set in front. I mentioned to Greg that I was between clubs – I was thinking about jumping on an 8, but we finally agreed that an easy 7 was the smarter choice. I thought my set-up was good, even took a good practice swing. I visualized the shot, was ready for the kill.

Shank alert! A shank far left beyond the waste area that lined the length of the fairway. I then shanked a pitching wedge even further left. I chunked another sand wedge into the green-side bunker, took two to get out, then two-putted for an 8.

The tenth was a re-run of the ninth: solid drive, but this time it was the 5-iron that was shanked. Then a chunked 6-iron into the junk, then another chunk and another two putt for another quad bogey.

Rinse and repeat on #11: solid drive, a chunked 3-hybrid that went all of four yards, then a yanked 5-iron OB. I chunked my penalty, then bladed a pitching wedge completely off the green, then a putt for my third 8 in a row.

And just to show I didn’t discriminate on par 4s alone, I shanked my 5-iron off the tee. An incredible recovery shot out of the crap (my best in four holes) left me sixteen feet for a par but I four-putted for a triple-bogey six.

All that hard work over the past week gone to crapola. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The round was gone.

And then, suddenly, from seemingly out of nowhere, I righted the ship. A yanked 9-iron nearly OB was my only poor swing on the par 5 #13 but I continued to drive the ball well and even blasted another good 5-wood along the way. Then I really settled in, going par / bogey / par (a long par 5 and another big 5-wood) / bogey before once again yanking an iron OB on #18 leading to a triple. But in that stretch I had really overcome adversity and played well. It didn’t matter, of course – the round was long gone, but I had my pride to play for and I impressed my playing partners with some great strikes on those holes.

So here I am, less than three weeks out from Goodboys, and I’m not feeling a whole lotta love in return for all the work I’ve put in. Sure, I could argue – and rightly – that after those initial yanks I stuck to my plan of aiming slightly right of center and ended up driving the ball better than I have all year (eight fairways hit). I can also say that after that stretch of three quads I did figure out a way to right the ship. Still, those shanks and yanks – all due to over-swinging or a poor set-up, or probably both – is just mind-numbing, especially after all that hard work. Where’s the fix for that?

The other area of concern is that my short game is terrible. Another round with more than forty putts, and it would take more than one hand to count the number of bladed chips I hit today. I suppose I could hit the range tomorrow and work on my short game, but my inability to take what I’m doing at the range and apply it on the course is what’s killing me right now. And it doesn’t make me feel better to think that I’ve gotten to the point where I can have forty-one putts, lose six balls, chip like crap, and make three quad bogeys in a row, and still shoot double-bogey golf. I’d rather clean the house and do chores.

I’ve got two more rounds to figure it all out before I head back to Massachusetts. I know it doesn’t sound it, but I feel as if I’m this close to putting it all together. Tomorrow I’ll be back out at the Papago Park range, working on everything – including my short game. Everything that transpired today is correctable, just tweaks. I have the basics down, I just have to figure out how to take it to the course and keep it there.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 19:39 | Comments (0)
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