September 30, 2017

Days until the 2018 Goodboys Invitational: 292
Target Handicap: 16.0 / Handicap: 25.4
Location: Superstition Springs Golf Club
Score: 55 / 59 = 114
Trending Handicap: 26.0 (+0.6)

Oh boy. Two rounds and I’ve already lost two strokes off my handicap since Goodboys Invitational Sunday. (Actually, if you count Goodboys Invitational weekend I’ve lost four strokes off my handicap since the middle of July.) It’s hard to fathom, and I won’t argue with you – it’s a little damaging to the psyche. But what else can The Great White Shank do but keep on plugging away? I figure, at some point it’s gonna turn around. But looking at my record since the 98 I put up at Superstition Springs back on July 14 shows nothing short of wreckage:

7/18 – Green Meadow Golf Club – 114
7/22 – Segregansett Golf Club – 108
7/23 – Triggs Memorial – 115
9/28 – Lone Tree Golf Club – 108
9/30 – Superstition Springs Golf Club – 114

It’s hard to believe that just yesterday I’d had absolutely the best range session I’d ever had, then followed it up this morning prior to teeing off at Superstition Springs with the absolute best warm-up session I’d ever had. You’ve heard folks talk about being “in the zone” during a round of golf and playing out of their shoes? Well that’s where I was, for the first time I can remember in my golf life. Oh, I’ve had decent range sessions before, good warm-ups, and even very good rounds (87 being my best ever), but at no time I can remember the game feeling so easy, my tempo and rhythm so in sync, the results exactly what I expected with every swing. And maybe I’ll never experience that feeling again, but while I had it, it was worth it, and memorable.

Today’s round started out as a continuation of my warm-up: after a blistering drive on the 380-yard par 4 opening hole, I had only 93 yards to the pin. I missed the green long on my approach shot but still two-putted for bogey. I flushed my second drive of the day and thought I’d hit a decent enough 6-iron into the second green but neglected to take into account a bunker on the left-hand side. I made a mess of that and ended up with a double-bogey six. I yanked my drive on the par 3 third into a bunker right (another pin I had no business going after) then made a mess of that as well for a triple-bogey six. On the fourth hole, a short par 4 with a pond in front, I hit the best 3-hybrid in my life to 80 yards, but pushed my pitching wedge off the green left (another opportunity for a green in regulation missed), but still ended up making par.

And that was it.

On the fifth hole I lost my tempo and rhythm, started over-swinging, and the day was a mess from that point forward. I lost my distance control. I lost my touch on anything requiring even the slightest bit of finesse. I once again lost the ability to hit my 5-wood (for the day I was 0-6 in 5-wood attempts, not even hitting one halfway decently, resulting in two 9s and an 8 on the par 5s). Most importantly, I started losing my driver off the tee, hitting one worm-burner after another. I then lost my irons, yanking even the shortest pitch shot. And that’s the way the rest of the day went. Every swing became an adventure, every shot leading to another lost stroke.

By the time we hit the final hole I was fried, both mentally and physically. My 3-hybrid off the tee was pushed left, requiring me to lay up with a 5-yard pitch before a stream that crossed the fairway. I yanked a pitching wedge dead right into the stream. Dropping my ball 190 yards from the pin, I crushed a 4-hybrid that drifted right into a grass bunker right of the pin that left me with an awkward side-bunker stance. I had only twenty yards to the pin but hit it fifty yards into a bunker that I couldn’t get out of. A perfect way to end the day.

The only thing I can say that worked for me all day long was my putting. I had a total of thirty putts and made everything inside of four feet, the result of some diligent work on the Superstition Springs putting green prior to the round. I’m proud of that because my putting has been so bad for so long. But that was the only good stat of the day: otherwise, I hit only four fairways off the tee and was 0-6 in opportunities for greens in regulation made. Most dishearteningly, my course management was as bad as I can remember – for all the times I’ve played this friggin’ track one would think I’d have learned how to play it by now. My playing partner Randy, a 6-handicap, real nice guy, was moved to tell me in the cart that he’d never seen anyone throw away strokes like I was doing, saying, “You know, sometimes you’ve got to play to your abilities.” That made my day!

After a day like this I might seriously consider folding my tent golf-wise were it not for the truly magical feeling yesterday’s range session and today’s warm-up gave me. Maybe, in the end, that’s the extent of my golf abilities – hitting balls off mats or grass when there’s nothing on the line. You’re just hitting balls to targets with numbers on them and nothing else matters: there’s no score, no handicap, no awkward stances, no implications if you make the wrong choice as far as distance is concerned, no balls to lose in creeks, ponds, subdivisions, woods, and canals. No course to manage. I don’t understand how I can lose that feeling and sense of touch on a golf course, but I’ll tell you this: not even Paula Creamer can help you if your set-up is poor, your aiming point is wrong, you’re playing the ball too far forward in your stance, and you’re over-swinging and yanking everything in front of you.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 18:15 | Comments Off on Going Backwards
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