May 25, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Ocotillo Golf Club
Score: 61 + 54 = 115 Handicap: 27.2 / Change: (0.0)

If yesterday was the way golf should never be played, today’s round at the beautiful Ocotillo Golf Club – regardless of my score – was the way golf should be played. Pristine conditions, great playing partners, beautiful weather, and, if not a brisk pace, then at least a stead pace. Having a mid-to-late morning tee time on a Saturday afternoon, it’s really all one could ask. Ocotillo is a Phil Mickelson golf properties laid out as three nine-hole courses that wind its way through very expensive (if not exclusive) subdivision. I played the White and Gold courses, and there was water (and I’m not talking insignificant water) on fourteen of the eighteen holes – lakes, ponds, and creeks that made for very strategic golf. The cart paths wound through lovely gardens of flowers of every color. If any of the Goodboys ever want to come out and play golf with The Great White Shank, this is the place I would bring them.

After yesterday’s meltdown at Stonecreek Golf Club, I actually felt fairly composed as I warned up on Ocotillo’s driving range. I knew I was going to lose a bunch of balls, so I came well prepared. My primary goal warming up was to try and stick to my plan and the swing I had been crafting over the past few weeks. It’s true that it all fell apart on me on the range on Thursday and at Stonecreek, but I truly felt my fundamentals were sound and that I should try and stick with it, no matter what. I was breaking tees again with my driver as I warmed up, but all of a sudden I found a “feel” that didn’t feel as if I was over-swinging. My irons were not good, but I could feel my tempo and transition all out of kilter again. I would have to find it on the course.

While it didn’t look pretty, the 61 on the White Course front wasn’t as bad as it seemed. I made good swings on just about every hole (the triple and quad bogeys on #8 and 9 being the exception), I just couldn’t put anything together. And, as has been oh-so-predictable to date, my short game sucked – two double bogeys on the front was the best I could manage. Still, I could feel my game slowly coming together, my ball contact getting that much more crisp and my drives starting to find fairways.

The back nine on the Gold Course started similar to the front (double-triple-double-quad), but I was actually starting to drive the ball well. My chipping started to come around but putting was terrible, with three-putts on 10, 11, and 13. But all of a sudden, it was like a switch turned on. I played the final five holes bogey-par-par-bogey-bogey. On #14 I left a 5-iron short but chipped on and two-putted. On #15 – a massive 538 yard par 5 – I crushed a driver dead center followed by an equally-crushed 5-wood that left me only 114 yards to the green (do the math on that!). For once, I perfectly executed a 9-iron, leaving myself only 12 feet for birdie. I missed the putt but was happy for that green in regulation. On #16 I pushed my drive left and found myself in a low-lying area 171 yards from the pin. This time my 4-hybrid was hit on the screws, leaving me 20-feet for birdie – a shot that garnered not just healthy applause from my playing partners, but a low-five from the cart girl who drove all the way over from the other side of the green just to compliment my shot. Once again, I missed the birdie putt, but another par and green in regulation wasn’t too bad. The bogeys on #s 8 and 9 were rocking chair, allowing what had started off roughly to finish off smooth as silk.

You have rounds where the score doesn’t reflect the way you played one way or the other, and while today’s 115 might not look pretty, the significant thing was I was able to stop the bleeding left over from Thursday’s range session and allow me to regain some of the confidence I had lost. More than anything else, even with my score, today’s round was fun – it was enjoyable to play with good golfers and play at a decent pace on an exquisitely-beautiful golf course that I hope to play again. Even with all that water I enjoyed playing a course where you had to think your way around (not normally one of my strong suits); by and large I played strategically and kept the mental errors to a minimum.

It’s now time for a break. June is coming, and it promises to be a busy month around the house. I’ll probably not touch a club for a couple of weeks, which is a good thing – it’s sufficient to know from today’s round that I’m on the right path with my swing changes and just experienced an unfortunate detour into the abyss. That’s what makes golf so hard – you never know what’s going to creep into your game, and you can never say that you found “it” – at least someone of my talents and capabilities can’t. Not that there still aren’t problems – my short game and putting are just not up to snuff and I really don’t know what to about it at this point.

But I figure I’ll worry about that anew once I begin my Goodboys Invitational weekend prep come July.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 20:34 | Comments Off on Crawling Back From The Abyss
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