September 28, 2017

Days until the 2018 Goodboys Invitational: 294 /
Target Handicap: 16.0 / Current Handicap: 24.0
Location: Lone Tree Golf Club
Score: 47 / 61 = 108
Trending Handicap: 25.4 (+1.4)

The PGA Tour’s 2018 season gets underway next week, but The Great White Shank’s opener was today – a clear, rather warm mid-90s day under a hot sun at Lone Tree Golf Club. It had been more than two months since I played, but those who visit this humble outpost in the blogsphere know I’ve been remaking my swing for the second time this year, this one in an attempt to at least somewhat resemble that of LPGA star Paula Creamer (a.k.a., the “Pink Panther”). I’ve been working diligently in that regard over the past month in weekly range sessions, but at some point you just have to get out there and mark your progress and felt I did some good things out there today while also marking those things I need to work on.

The whole point in going all “Pink Panther” was really four-fold: 1) to hit my hybrids and 5-wood at least semi-consistently, 2) be more consistent (and hopefully longer) with my driver, 3) because my putting has been soooo bad for it seems like years, adopt her putting stance to see if it makes my putting game more consistent, all of which to help me 4) shave six strokes off my 24.0 handicap by the start of Goodboys Invitational weekend 2018. In addition, I’ve decided to listen to fellow Goodboy “The Funny Guy” and start using my 8-iron to chip when the circumstances demand a lengthy chip. Finally, besides tracking the number of fairways hit and putts, I’m now tracking what I call OGIR – opportunities for greens in regulation, meaning: being on the fairway 150 yards or less from the pin with an opportunity to make birdie by hitting the green. These are all significant areas targeted for improvement, surely, but while it’s a long way to the start of Goodboys 2018, in the words of Patrick O’Brian’s Captain Jack Aubrey, “there’s not a moment to lose.”

Before I get into my progress as far as the “Pantherization” of my swing goes, a few words about today’s round. While it’s true that all strokes count, that 61 on the back side wasn’t as bad as it looks (although, fer shure, it does look bad). The back nine featured three double pars: a six on the island green par 3 #12 where I three-putted from 20 feet after my 6-iron off the tee hit the island fringe and bounce into the pond, a six on the par 3 #14 where I pulled a 6-iron off the tee into a bunker and made a mess of the hole thereafter, and a big fat ten on the par 5 #18, where, after a beautiful drive and an equally-stunning 5-wood (thanks, Paula!) that left me sitting pretty 123 yards from the pin, I proceeded to put three balls into the water left. I had no business going for the pin on my third shot, but I was feeling frisky after my performance on the par 5 ninth (see below) and made some very poor shot-making choices to turn a chicken salad opportunity into chicken sh*t. And it should be mentioned that my putting demons which were somewhat held in check on the front emerged from out of nowhere on the back where I had two three-putts and a four-putt.

Oh well, no on ever accused Paula Creamer of being a miracle worker…

So clearly there’s more work to be done, but there’s still a whole lot of positives I can take from today’s round. First of all, that 47 on the front could have been even better. I was really rusty from not playing for two months, and it showed up in my short game around the greens which, from beginning to end, was pretty dreadful. Secondly, I seemed absolutely lost from 120 yards in; couldn’t hit a pitching wedge to save my life. This I chalk up to a bit of rust, a bit of still not feeling comfortable with the Pink Panther swing on my short irons. Still not sure what I’m going to do about that…

But I drove the ball really well all day: even while fooling around with ball position I hit seven fairways. Of the five opportunities I had to hit my 5-wood, I had four really good hits and one duff. Of the three opportunities I had to hit my hybrids, I had one outstanding hit, another crushed but sent way left into the adjoining subdivision, and one so-so. So good progress being seen there. Not so good was my OGIR score: I had nine opportunities – count ’em, nine! – to make the green in regulation from the fairway 150 yards out or less but made only one. One! A pretty pathetic performance, I would say. Putting wise? I like Creamer’s putting stance and set-up. still, I missed three putts from less than two feet, but then again I haven’t practiced my putting at all, so I’m gonna just chalk it up on rust and whistle myself past the graveyard.

But if there was one example of the opportunities this new swing presents it was hole #9, a long par 5 with a sharp dogleg left at the very end, a pond protecting the green acting as the elbow. I had thinned my drive just short of the fairway, but hit a monster 5-wood that arced like a pro shot dead straight, leaving me 150 yards in the center of the fairway. I grabbed my 6-iron then intentionally aimed left to play a fade into the green. Took my Paula Creamer stance, gave it a Paula Creamer waggle, then feathered it to six feet and made the putt for birdie. Sucker golf that makes you realize the potential of the work you’re putting in, seducing you into wanting to come back for more.

So the 2017-18 Great White Shank golf season is off and running. A mixed bag for sure, but opportunities for improvement abounding and a road map in place for where I want to go.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:02 | Comments Off on Opening Day, Baby Steps
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