July 7, 2017

Days until the 2017 Goodboys Invitational: 35
Location: Lone Tree Golf Club
Score: 49 / 48 = 97
Handicap: 23.9 / Trend: 24.0 (no change)

It’s two weeks out from the 2017 Goodboys Invitational weekend and I’m about to tee it up at Lone Tree Golf Club. It’s already damned hot at 9 AM – the temperature on the pro shop thermometer read 102 – heading for a record high of 117. We’re under another Excessive Heat Warning, and the place looked like a ghost town when I walked into the cool, dark pro shop. Oh, there were golfers out there (I saw them as I drove through the main entrance) but they were on the back nine, working their way feverishly to get out of the sun and into a cold pitcher of suds before the real heat started to rise. Alone at the driving range, taking my practice swings with a small bag of balls at my feet, I could feel the heat already rising through the damp ground as if I was playing in Texas or Louisiana. Six balls in, I said screw it and headed straight to the first tee. If I were lucky, I’d motor my way around the course in three hours and get outta Dodge no later than 12:30.

I beat that time by twenty minutes. And a damned good thing, too, because it was really starting to broil out there. As lubed up and hydrated as I was, it was getting hard to stay focused out there. Sure, I wanted to play well, but it was all about survival, and the kind of heat we’re having is nothing to take lightly. Just the day before, while hitting a large bucket at the Kokopelli Golf Club driving range, I heard a fire truck and paramedics drive up to attend to a gentleman who appeared to have been overcome by the heat at the other end of the range. Smacking my opening drive down the left side of the fairway, I looked at my phone, noted the time, drank some water, and kicked into my round into gear.

Lone Tree is a pretty wide open track, but I went into the round in full Goodboys preparation mode. Sure, you can miss the fairways and play the ball off the wide waste areas that line both sides of the course as it winds its way through the walled-in golf community, but I committed myself to considering any drive that ended up in those areas as OB, as if it were New England woods. My Goodboys pal “The Funny Guy” likes to chide me whenever I would hit a ball into the woods back home, saying, “Not like playing a Scottsdale muni, is it chief?”, so for this round and my final Arizona round at Superstition Springs next Friday that’s the way I would play it.

One other thing I did differently today was to try and imagine myself in Goodboys competition. Before I teed off on each hole, I would look at it and imagine a hole I’d played from Goodboys Invitational past. It was both challenging and fun. I might have been out at Lone Tree, but in my mind I was playing at The Ledges, or Breakfast Hill, or The Captains, or Waverly Oaks. It was an interesting exercise, and it made me feel in some ways connected to my buds who are going about their own Goodboys weekend preparations in their own ways.

The 49 on the front nine wasn’t bad, but I threw away a lot of strokes. I had a few opportunities thanks to some decent enough driving, but I couldn’t get the ball on the green in regulation when I had the chance, and to compound the problem my chipping and putting were lousy. Still, I was striking the ball solidly enough, I just couldn’t make anything happen. Taking five shots to get in from 60 yards on the par 4 fifth was embarrassingly sloppy, and the eight I made on the par 5 ninth resulted from taking the same number of shots to get in from 122 yards. Two opportunities to make good scores frittered away as if strokes don’t mean a thing.

The back nine could – could have been magical. I somehow lost my ability to hit my driver straight at the turn and didn’t get it back until the seventeenth, but I was scrambling like crazy. The elderly gentleman who joined me at the turn took to calling me “Seve” for the way I kept escaping out of trouble with my sand wedge and pitching wedge, neither of which I could hit on the front nine. I birdied the par 3 twelfth – an island green, no less! – by flaring a 6-iron from 153 yards to seven feet. I bogeyed the par 4 #13 after hitting my drive into a fairway bunker, then hitting my approach shot into a sand trap and a nearly-impossible downhill lie. On the par 4 #14, I had a sharply-downhill chip to an elevated green and left myself only twelve feet for par.

The reason I say the back nine could have been magical is that it all started to go to shit from there. I four-putted from twelve feet for a triple-bogey seven. On the par 4 #15 I drove the ball into a fairway bunker, then hit a 5-iron to 40 yards left of the green into a gnarly mess of junk. I got applause from my playing partner when I hacked it out to eight inches from the cup. Bill gave it to me, but because at Goodboys you have to putt it all the way in I told him I still had to putt it. I missed. On the long par 5 #18 I wasted a perfect drive with two sculled attempts at a 5-wood, then tried to get cute by going for the pin with a 5-iron from 162 yards protected by a pond. Lying three as I was, the smart play would have been to hit an easy 6-iron right of the pond and try and fade it in, but I was frying both mentally and physically and went for it. I missed carrying the pond by a yard. Instead of playing for double-bogey I made snowman.

I can take a lot from today’s round. Clearly, the work I’ve been putting in at the range is starting to pay off. If I make that 8-inch putt, two-putt instead of that four-putt, and play #18 a little smarter I’d be penciling in a 44 for a 93 – exactly the kind of golf I want to be playing. I’ve still got some work to do at the range: my iron-play from 120 yards in, tightening up my driver a little bit more, learn to hit that damned 5-wood, but I really feel as if I’m close. Superstition Springs – my usual pre-Goodboys week send-off – will be it’s usual challenge and gauge as to where my game really is before I head back to Massachusetts. After today, I’m really looking forward to getting out of this heat and playing golf with my friends.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:34 | Comment (1)
1 Comment »
  1. Shank:
    Those Providence courses arn’t like playing
    Scottsdale muni, they will swallow you whole Chief!

    Good luck, watched Jaws the other night,
    never gets old.

    Cubby

    Comment by Ronald Myerow — July 8, 2017 @ 3:12 pm


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