June 22, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Stonecreek Golf Club
Score: 53 + 64 = 117
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 26.8 / Change: (none)

Sometimes you’re just going to have one of those days on the golf course where things just aren’t meant to be. Today was one of those days – one in which I played worse than I can remember playing. 117 is the highest score I’ve ever recorded since using MyScorecard to track my scores and handicap over the past seven years. Unfortunately, it’s not like I’ve never shot a 117 before – in fact, going through my MyScorecard.com records, this is actually the fourth time I’ve shot 117: at the same Stonecreek course four years back in May 2015, then a year later at Superstition Springs in June 2016, then last December with my Goodboys pals at Royal Links in Las Vegas. I find that strange, frankly.

What was different about today is that I actually felt great warming up on the Stonecreek range. Not every ball was perfect, of course, but I felt relaxed and felt I had a great transition and tempo working for me. Things didn’t go bad immediately: the feeling from the range carried over to the first hole where I found fairway at #1 and blistered a 4-hybrid ten yards left of the green, rolling to a stop just above a sand bunker. It was a tricky downhill lie, but a nifty flick of a sand wedge left me with an uphill 12-footer for par, which I two-putted for bogey.

On #2 with its pond in front (always a nemesis), my drive carried the pond with a yard or two to spare, leaving me dead middle of the fairway 152 yards from the pin. I don’t know what happened on the next shot. I thought I took the 6-iron back correctly, but it barely nicked the ball and squibbed it two feet to the left. I was more astonished than angry at that happening, but when I skulled the next shot into a dry creek running across the fairway forty yards ahead and had to take an unplayable lie, I’ll admit to being pissed. I then caught an angry pitching wedge too good, leaving me forty feet from the pin and then 3-putted for a quad bogey eight. That after what should have been an easy green in regulation off the tee.

All of a sudden, I found myself fighting for my life on every shot. I got away with a thinly-hit 5-iron to sixteen feet on the par 3 #3, which I two-putted for par. On the par 4 #4, my drive was a balloon shot way left, but a decent-enough 5-iron recovery shot left me in the middle of the fairway only 130 yards from the pin. I badly pushed my 8-iron way left, leaving me short-sided from forty feet. Fortunately, I hit a beautiful chip to three feet (outstanding, really) and one-putted for bogey. On the par 3 #5, I shanked a 7-iron off the tee then yanked my mulligan into some thin woods on the left pin high. Not only was I lucky enough to find my ball, but was able to chip it on the green and two-putt from thirty feet to save my bogey. But I knew I wasn’t fooling anyone.

The par 4 #6 is the #1 handicap hole on the course, with a tight fairway that runs between two ponds. It’s always been a difficult hole for me. Today, I ballooned another drive short and left, then shanked what was supposed to be just a little recovery 5-iron. I was 200 yards from the pin at this point, so I grabbed my 3-hybrid and caught it good enough to just get it over the pond on the left. Talk about living dangerously! I had 30 yards over a sand trap to the green, but unfortunately hit my sand wedge forty yards, and it rolled into the pond on the right. Chipped on and two-putted for a quad bogey eight. On the par 5 #7, I actually hit a solid drive just off the fairway right. A flawlessly executed 5-iron left me 180 yards to the pin. Unfortunately, I skulled the 3-hybrid into a dry creek and had to take an unplayable lie. I over-clubbed with an angry 7-iron that flew the back of the green, leaving me with an impossible downhill lie to a severely uphill green. Two tries, two putts, another quad bogey.

And from there it just got worse. I couldn’t hit my driver to save my life – this only two days after having my best driving day of the year on fairways a heckuva lot narrower than Stonecreek’s on my way to shooting a 46 at Papago Park. The 53 on the front nine was accomplished purely by smoke and mirrors; on the back I just lost my swing completely. I had no clue – zero – where any ball was going to go. Nothing was hit flush, and then the skulls came in spades. Starting on the par 3 #12 I couldn’t get an iron or a hybrid off the ground. The worst would come on the long par 5 #16 where I proceeded to skull three straight 5-woods – a club I’ve been absolutely crushing all year – before skulling four straight balls into the pond protecting the green. It was embarrassing, and I’ll admit I lost my composure out there for the first time in a very long time. The back nine was as ugly as anything I can remember: four 8s, a ten, and nine lost balls. Hard to believe it all added up to only a 64; it felt like a 74.

Hours later, and a chilled Pinot Grigio beside me, I don’t know what to make of today. I don’t know how one can go shooting an 89 and a 117 in the course of a few weeks’ time. Back in the days when I really cared, the prospect of having to play Goodboys Invitational weekend in one month’s time would have scared the bejeezus out of me and send me scurrying for a lesson from Alex Black. But (and I know this sounds ridiculous after today) I still believe in my swing and plan on keeping it no matter what happens going forward. For whatever reason, I just got way out of kilter and never found my way back. I have a feeling those TaylorMades feel quite abused after today, and frankly, I’m not in any rush to pick them up again any time soon.

Fortunately, work and a business trip this week will prevent me from touching my clubs, and I think that’s a good thing. But with Goodboys week rapidly approaching, I know I’m going to have to make the trek over to the Kokopelli driving range a week from Monday and just start over again. I really don’t know what happened today, but it’s clear that even with all the swing changes I’ve ben making, the consistency I’ve been trying to achieve by going with a swing and committing to it no matter what is only as good as the person swinging the club. And after today, it’s clear that the demons I thought I had eradicated a long time ago are still there. It’s enough to make me want to give the game up, because if it can happen out of the blue as it did today, what’s to stop it from happening again at any other time? All I’ve ever wanted was a swing that allows me to go out and enjoy an occasional, perhaps weekly, round of golf whenever I retire.

Perhaps that’s just asking too much.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:14 | Comments (0)
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