April 22, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 27.0 / Change: (0.0)
Location: Superstition Springs Golf Club
Score: 46 + 59 = 105

It has been 4 1/2 months since I last played a round of golf with my Goodboys pals last December in Las Vegas. Between having to wait for my right hand to feel strong enough where I felt I could make it through a whole round (which it did, although it’s a bit sore and stiff as to be expected) and the lack of practice I’ve been able to put in, it felt great just to be out there on a warm and breezy Saturday morning amongst golfers and to feel the excitement of being able to tee it up once again.

It’s funny the things you miss by not playing: I love hearing all the golf chatter, the sounds of club and ball making contact, the feeling of getting your golf self together before heading to the practice range – glove: check; tees and ball markers in left-hand pocket: check; prescription sunglasses exchange places with your sunglasses: check. And the smell of green grass, and, yes, even the occasional whiff of a cigar being smoked. The folks gathered ’round the putting green and chipping area. I had missed it all. And for a moment, when I heard my name mentioned with the twosome I was playing with calling us over the loudspeaker to the first tee, it wasn’t nervousness I felt, just excitement at being alive, free, and able to recreate in this way. And as I strode to the first tee to shake the hands of my playing partners that day I filed the feeling away for future reverie when circumstances might be a little (or perhaps not so little) different.

It’s only been in the last week and over two small buckets at the range that I’ve implemented what I plan to be the very last tweaks I’m ever planning on making in my golf swing – which is, everything at 3/4 – both my takeaway and my follow-through. It’s been something my Goodboys pal “The Funny Guy” has been preaching for, like, years, but it’s taken me this long to realize this is way I want to play it from now on. Would it have been nice to have a few more sessions working on this (for me) major change? Sure, but I was really looking at getting out there and see just how much rust I had to shake off.

I started out h-o-t hot, only three over after five holes. I immediate put my brandy-new 3 hybrid into use after a wayward drive on #1, sticking it to ten feet where I then two-putt for par. Not a bad way to start a new golf year! And truth be told, I had no business double-bogeying the par 5 #6 – my best drive (as it turned out) of the day and a crushed 5-wood left me only 145 yards from the pin, but my first poor iron swing of the day followed by two chunked chips (a common sight on the back nine), and a three-putt (the last from less than a foot) resulted in the first crack in the dam. I followed that up with decent-enough bogeys on the par 3 seventh and par 5 8th (helped by a 24-foot one-putt) before a lousy drive on nine (OB left) and yet another chunked chip resulted in a double-bogey six and a lovely 46. Still, not bad for my first nine of the year!

The back nine started OK enough but a chunked chip and a missed two-footer resulted in a double-bogey six. On the par 5 #11, a decent drive and a decent 5-wood left me only 100 yards from the pin, albeit in a somewhat tricky position due to a palm tree partially obscuring my view of the green. I still don’t know what happened to that pitching wedge shot – I caught it flush (probably too flush) but we never found it. A drop, two chunked chips, and a four-putt (the last from a foot out) resulted in a crowd-pleasing quad bogey nine. And, like the horse that gets spooked by some unexpected sound, it was all downhill from there.

No question my swing started getting too long and my ball position too far forward – you’d think by now I would be able to rein in these tendencies, but the game started moving a little fast on me. The Springs’ back nine requires concise drives off the tee, and after wayward drives right I found myself out of position on every hole the rest of the way. I held it together enough with bogeys on the par 3 #12 and the par 4 #13, but an admittedly poorly-conceived approach shot on #14 (I tried for the green from an awkward downhill lie over water when I should have kicked it out to a safer place) cost me dearly and led to a double-bogey. After that the wheels came off, resulting in a double, quad, double, and another quad bogey to finish things up.

The numbers don’t lie: six fairways hit, two greens in regulation, 32 putts (not that bad!), only eight holes at bogey or better. The sad truth is, given my hot start I should never have ended up with a score in triple digits. To be thirteen strokes worse on the back than on the front is really unconscionable, my playing partners and I enjoyed a good time and the margarita and Mexican food afterwards tasted pretty damned good. Sure, there’s stuff I need to work on (the fact I hadn’t even touched my short game since December is something I can fix easily enough), and I’m confident that the 3/4 swing strategy is a good one since it served me so well on the front nine.

Maybe I’d be feeling a little more distressed were it, say, May or June, but for now, just getting out there and kicking the year off feels good enough. I did some good things but not nearly enough, and I’m looking forward to improving on those aspects of my game before my next time out.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 01:05 | Comments Off on A Tale of Two Nines
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