May 24, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Stonecreek Golf Club
Score: 53 + 55 = 108 Handicap: 27.2 / Change: (+0.1)

There is golf the way it should be played on a bright and sunny, unseasonably warm (i.e., not hot) Friday in May, and there’s golf the way it shouldn’t be played – in fact, avoided at all cost. One would think Friday would be a perfect day to get a little work in, close up shop early for the day, and go out and play 18 before you get past three o’clock in the afternoon and beat the rush hour drive home.

One would think.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen today, as I was paired with a couple of women who played as fast I like to, yet proceeded to slog through a 5 1/2 hour round behind three foursomes of hackers doing a bachelor party weekend. Not only did they suck, they fu**ed around all day and were friggin’ slow as molasses. How bad was it? When you arrive at a par 5 after a par 3 and find the foursome in front of you hadn’t even teed off yet. Needless to say, this didn’t help my disposition much, and none of us could really find a good rhythm in our games all day. The ranger? He was nowhere to be found after the third hole after he wished us all good morning and good luck out there. He knew what was going on and didn’t want anything to do with it.

I’m not going to make that an excuse for a horrible day golf-wise, because it’s been a while since I’ve felt so lost out there on a golf course. I literally had no idea where the ball was going to go at any given time, which is truly sad because until yesterday I was feeling pretty darned optimistic about the changes I’d been making with my swing.

Today’s problems actually started yesterday afternoon at the Superstition Springs driving range where, after last Friday’s round at Kokopelli, I thought I’d work on my driver to try and square up at address a little more to try and get rid of that loopy push-fade (is there such a thing?) that had me missing fairways at “the Koke”. I bought a small bucket and found my favorite spot at the far left side of the range where there’s a natural twenty-yard wide “fairway” between the 100-yard marker and a big hill separating the range from an electrical building and the first hole. I took a couple of practice swings, then hit my first drive, a towering infield fly rule ball that landed next to the 100-yard marker. I looked down to see my tee, decapitated just under the head, the stick standing there like some lone soldier in no man’s land.

I laughed, casually wiped the stick out of the way with my foot, and teed up another ball. The same thing happened. And again. And again. And again. A dozen times. I was perplexed, to say the least.

I reached into my bag and grabbed some tees, only to find that if I didn’t get this resolved – and pronto – I wouldn’t have any more tees. See, you have to understand that this predicament came clear out of the blue – The Great White Shank doesn’t hit tee balls like that. Oh, I’ll yank drives and push drives and skull drives, and even hit drives straight from time to time, but there are three things The Great White Shank seldom, if ever, does off the tee:

He doesn’t hook the ball.
He doesn’t slice the ball.
And he doesn’t hit 70-to-100 yard infield flies to first and second base.

I’ll admit, I started to get rattled. I took practice swings over and over, trying to feel my way out of this mess, to no avail. A half-hour later, the bucket was empty, I was out of tees, and the area I had been hitting was littered with tees, all decapitated in the same way. I really didn’t know what to do, so I went over to the chipping area and tried to clear my head. That turned out to be a disaster as well, because, no matter what I did every chip was sculled across the green.

I paused for a bit and tried to think things through. Clearly, I was out of sync in every way, and perhaps both the driver and my pitching wedge were responding in the only way they knew how. And knowing I had a tee time at a tough golf course in just eighteen hours filled me with a dread I hadn’t felt for a long time. I wasn’t mad, but I was certainly depressed to have this happen after all the friggin’ work I’d been putting in the last two months.

What to do? As soon as I got home I hit the computer and searched YouTube for “skying driver”. I found a British chap who told me that what I was doing was taking the club back outside the plane, thus causing the club to hit down on the ball when with the driver you should be hitting the ball on the upswing. All well and good, but my question was why. And maybe this was just like getting the shanks that appear from seemingly out of nowhere. All I knew is, all the positive feelings and thoughts of tempo and transition I had been working on were now out the window. I knew I wouldn’t have a whole lot of time on Friday morning to work this out on the driving range (and, frankly, when you’re getting ready to play a round of golf you shouldn’t be trying to “work” anything out – you should be getting ready to play), so it was going to be hope for the best and cope with the rest.

Friday morning came. I only had a chance to hit ten balls before my name was called to the first tee. The range was ugly – clearly, Thursday’s range session had eaten deep into my psyche. I was so all over the place, I couldn’t remember the last time I headed to the first tee so lacking in confidence. I told myself to just try and slow everything down and deal with whatever happened from there. Any thought of shooting any kind of score was out the window, this was going to be survival golf.

Strangely enough, my opening drive was pure, straight down the middle. Followed by a crushed 5-iron that left me twelve feet for birdie. How about that: a green in regulation! A two-putt for par, and I was hopeful that maybe this was something I could build on. But that feeling evaporated quickly on #2 with an infield fly to third base (unfortunately, third base being OB on the other side of the net separating #2 fairway from the driving range) and a yanked mulligan into the pond right. Great, I’m thinking, now I have a two-way miss to deal with.

And that’s the way the front nine went. I could feel my irons starting to get away from me – a shanked 5-iron on #3, a ballooned drive left on #4 with a 3-putt for double bogey. On the par 3 #5 I saved bogey after chunking a 5-iron off the tee with a dandy pitch to three feet (missed the putt, something I would replicate several times from the same distance going forward). The infield fly came back on the #6 tee, landing in a waste area that took two tries to get out of before I dunked a 8-iron from 120 into the pond right (quad bogey). After hitting a good drive on the par 5 #7 I pushed my 5-wood way left but recovered sufficiently to three-putt from ten feet for double bogey.

…you get the picture.

The back nine was the same, except that I was now so uncertain as to where anything was going I could barely function. And if I happened to get on a green in somewhat decent shape, ol’ mister three-wiggle would rear his ugly head. I missed so many three-footers that I just gave up even thinking I was going to make anything. Compounding the misery was having to wait ten minutes on every friggin’ tee box before you could even hit. Even the ladies I was playing with were checking their watches – they obviously had places to go and better things to do.

And then, finally, came the par 4 #18. Not only did I hit a perfect drive off the tee (I marked it at 220 yards), I followed it up with an equally-perfect 5-wood that landed on the green, albeit thirty feet away from a pin tucked way back. Good first putt to three feet, missed the par, made bogey and actually felt like I played the hole well. That made it two well-played holes – #1 and #18. In between? A mess.

The final numbers were ugly: two greens in regulation, four fairways hit, ten lost balls, and 38 putts for a round of survival double-bogey golf. Geesh, I should just mail in my scores. All the work I’ve put in, and I’ve made no progress whatsoever. In fact, I’d call it a step backwards. And tomorrow I’ve got a very tough course waiting for me with lots of water to boot.

This is most certainly not the way I planned things to go. And to think, just last week I was complaining about that fade that was causing me to miss fairways right. I’d kill for that swing right now. And, while it’s most certainly not at the top of my list of concerns, I’ve got to do something about my putting – I don’t know why, but it’s terrible right now.

I think after tomorrow I’m going to take a nice, long vacation from my clubs. They deserve better.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:47 | Comments Off on Stuck In Neutral
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