June 16, 2018

Days until the 2018 Goodboys Invitational: 33
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 25.2 / Change: (-0.7)
Location: Lone Tree Golf Club
Score: 45

We were getting our first monsoon rain of the season when I arrived at Lone Tree Golf Club for my first “real” round to be played since getting my new M2 graphite irons, but from the looks of the parking lot the rain wasn’t keeping folks away on this Father’s Day weekend. When I originally made my tee time two days ago, the course was wide open; now it was packed for pretty much the rest of the day. I guess everyone saw a chance to play in wet (but not too wet) conditions and temperatures only in the 70s. Can’t blame them – that’s December weather out here. There was no starter so I had to try my luck hitching on with a less-than foursome out there, and there weren’t many of those.

I spotted a threesome heading to the first tee, so I curtailed my warm-up after four balls and drove over to meet them. I asked if I could tag along, and for the first time in my memory I was actually asked not to join them, saying they were playing as a memorial to their dad. Pretty bizarre, but I was thinking they might have his ashes on them and were going to find a way to spread them across a course he might have loved to play. At least I’d like to think that was the case. They did point me to a twosome already by the first hole green and allowed me to hit my ball off the tee so I could catch up with them. Which I did, but that lasted only five minutes when their phone rang and they had to quit their round because one of the guy’s wives needed the baby car seat in his truck for her car. I kid you not.

So now I’m left by myself to finish the hole by myself. I’m 156 yards from the hole, grab my 6-iron and leave it just off the green on the right, short-sided and high above the pin. I had spent three hours last Wednesday afternoon over at Superstition Springs Golf Club revamping my chipping game from the ground up and playing with different set-up and address positions, and it paid off when I just barely missed chipping in for birdie. Rushed my short putt and missed it for par, but at least I could get away from the guys in back of me.

I love my M2 5-iron. Easy to hit, ball just jumps off the clubface, every time. With my Callaway Steelheads, my 5-iron was a 170-yard club at best. The #2 hole at Lone Tree was playing 180 yards slightly downhill, pin at the back. My tee ball went 183, landing just off the fringe on the left. Two putts later (one official) I make par. When I get to #4 the hole was empty, so I played away. Thinned my drive, skulled a 5-wood – two really bad shots – but still had only 93 yards to the pin. Not great, because I had short-sided myself once again and above the pin right. I’ve learned with my M2s that a sand wedge, 80 yards with the Callaways, is now 100 yards, so I eased up on a sand wedge and put it exactly where I wanted it. Rolled out more than I thought it would, though, and three putts later I had a double-bogey six. But a good double-bogey, because I’ve really been working hard on my wedge play inside 100 yards. With the M2 and a sand wedge, it’s become a lot easier.

When I reached the par 5 fifth, I see two walkers about three-quarters the way up the hole, so I hit my tee shot – my first really good strike of the day – and then drive up to where they were. Two twelve-year olds just kicking around, one kinda chubby, the other a dead-ringer for the kid in The Sixth Sense. I ask if I can play with them and they said sure. I go back to my tee ball and, not wanting to be a hindrance, rush my 5-wood and skull it forty yards. “Oh brother”, I’m thinking, “these kids will think I’m a hacker.” The chubby kid looks back and says, “Hey mister, take your time, we’re not going anywhere, there are some real hackers in front of us.” So that’s what I did: took my time, focused a little on the task at hand, and crushed my 5-wood with slight fade towards the green. “Wow!” the two kids yell in unison.

Taught them a lesson about how The Great White Shank can play.

We had a great time the rest of the way. The chubby kid was playing from the red tees – he said until he turns thirteen he’s required to do that in order to keep his 18-handicap. He routinely hit the ball 220 yards off the tee. Beautiful, athletic swing. The other kid played from the whites, wasn’t quite as good a player, but he had a nice short game and could putt lights-out. They both played no worse than bogey all the way in. I taught them some Goodboys-style golf with a little bit of trash-talk that they really got into, and we all gave as good as we got. Lots of laughs and a lot of fun. Better yet, they both liked to play quick – something the adult foursome in front of us obviously never heard of.

I double-bogeyed the par 5 fifth, my bogey putt hanging over the lip and refusing to go in, then parred #6 after a solid drive and an eased-off 9-iron from 117 yards that left me for a third time short-sided and above the hole before I almost holed a sand wedge chip. I parred #7 with another solid drive and a 4-hybrid that went 190 yards that left me pin-high but twenty yards off and above the green to the left. My Goodboys 2018 partner “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis would have been proud to see me chip with an 8-iron (!) that left me twelve feet for par. Which I promptly drained to fist pumps all around.

I made a mental mistake on the par 3 eighth. Normally playing 184 yards, “Uncle Bushnell” had me at 154 yards. With the Callaways, that would be an obvious 6-iron, but I had a sneaky suspicion I could get there with a M2 7, Didn’t trust myself and tried to play an easy 6, but my upper body got ahead of my lower and I yanked it far right, down into a gully. But I’d worked really hard on my short game and made a nice uphill chip with a pitching wedge to six feet. For the second time, I left a putt on the lip. Rocking-chair bogey.

The kids had really gotten into golf Goodboys-style, so we agreed we’d play the final hole for the beverage of choice for whoever had the lowest score. I teed off first and made my worst swing of the day, a big push OB left. Teed it up for my third shot and pulverized it down the middle. It’s always easier the second time, isn’t it? Sixth Sense hooked his drive OB left as well, then pulverized his third shot down the middle. The chubby kid hit his drive of the day, 240 yards, leaving him just 180 yards to the pin. He had a great game all around so me and Sixth Sense were out of it. But that didn’t stop me from crushing a 5-wood to 93 yards, then easing off another sand wedge that bounced twice just before the green and rolled to eight feet from the pin. My putt rolled around the cup and bounced out for a double-bogey. But it would have been one hell of a bogey. The chubby kid hit his second shot to twelve feet and left his eagle putt short.

The kids were getting picked up by their dad, and I was going to be sandwiched between two foursomes, so I called it an early day. The sun was breaking out and it felt Florida-humid, so getting off the course just after noon wasn’t going to be a bad thing. But I accomplished what I wanted to: continue to validate the distances of the M2s and work on my tempo. I felt a move with my driver on #7 that I tried to replicate on #9 that I want to practice on a bit more.

Overall, it was a good round. Four fairways hit, 15 putts, three-for-three in hitting the green from less than 100 yards out. No greens in regulation (which was disappointing), but it gave me a chance to practice the chipping game changes I’d been working on. I’m feeling very confident in my game, and with just over a month before Goodboys Invitational weekend, I feel my game is rounding into shape nicely.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 19:27 | Comments (0)
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