July 5, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Lone Tree Golf Club
Score: 50 + 43 = 93
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 26.6 / Change: (-0.8)

As soon as I realized I was going to be able to play golf on the 4th of July, I booked me a tee time at Lone Tree and made a trip to the Kokopelli G.C driving range to work on both my driver and hitting irons (7, 6, 5) off a tee. My inability to play par 3 holes was getting into my head, and I knew that the only way I was going to fix it was to work on staying on top of the ball with my new strong grip and really focusing on my transition and weight shift. The same thing with my driver. I just knew somehow that I was (even if only a little) sliding backwards and not shifting my weight forward to strike the ball cleanly and with the clubface square. Even though it was brutally hot out there, sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, so I swilled two G2s (grape flavor) and fought the anemia that was making me feel a little light-headed. Half a large bucket with the irons, half hitting driver.

Warming up at Lone Tree the very next day – not more than 18 hours later – I’m hitting the ball all over the damned place. Oh, I’m staying on top of the ball all right, but the balls are flying every which way. And so it was as the round got underway, me playing alone between two foursomes, surf music on the iPhone. Even though I started bogey, double bogey, bogey, bogey I was doing it with mirrors. Somehow I’d make one great shot or sink a long putt, but I had no clue where the ball was going. On the par 5 #5, I actually put together my first really good shots of the day and was on the green in four, sixteen feet away, but four-putted for a triple bogey snowman. Then, on the next whole, a short 328-yard par 4, I hit my first straight drive of the day and something clicked. A 9-iron to ten feet and a two-putt for my first par of the day. A little bit of sloppy golf ensured on the next three holes (most especially on the par 5 #9, where a fairway-splitting longest drive of the day coupled with a perfectly-executed 3-hybrid left me only 122 yards to the pin), but a yanked 8-iron way right left me in Nowheresville and I had to settle for an unstaisfying double-bogey seven. Still, I knew I was starting to strike the ball rather crisply.

It was another sloppy hole on #10: instead of waiting for the foursome in front of me to clear the green, I attempted an “easy” 6-iron out of a fairway bunker and yanked it OB right, leading to a double-bogey 6 saved only by a 20-foot one putt. But after that The Great White Shank was off to the races. I had easy birdie opportunities on the par 4 #11 (eight feet, par), the island green par 3 #12 (a dying quail 5-iron that caught the bank and rolled to five feet, par), the par 4 #13 (twenty feet, par), and then a near hole-in-one on the par 3 #14 (1 1/2 feet, birdie) before getting sloppy on the par 4 #15 after a so-so drive and a crushed 5-wood left me only fifteen yards from the green and a forward-placed pin. Not only did I chunk my first chip, but I skulled my second attempt across the green, resulting in a triple-bogey seven.

I didn’t let that bother me, however, and I finished the final three holes with three very workman-like bogeys for a crowd-pleasing 43. While it’s true that Lone Tree’s back nine features generous fairways, I don’t care if you’re playing Pebble Beach or the local mini-golf with the flying saucers and Bluebeard’s Castle – you shoot a 43, you’re playing bona fide real golf. Not only did I hit seven consecutive fairways on the back nine (twelve total), but I was solid middle on all of them. I converted three of five GIR (green in regulation) opportunities on the back (three of eight total), and was tidy enough with only seventeen putts (36 total). What made me most satisfied was the way I hit my irons – even though I pulled a couple, they were hit square, and I know that was just the result of getting a little too upright with my takeaway, a fairly easy fix. It was a good enough performance after a rocky start.

All I really care about right now is ball contact and staying on top of the ball. I’m still a little bit in-between, hence some holes playing like Ray Charles and others like Ray Floyd (hence the title of this post), but that’s just the way it is right now. I truly believe that if I continue to do that and work on my transition and weight shift, the scores will come. Could be in time for Goodboys Invitational weekend (two weeks hence!), perhaps not. But again, it doesn’t really matter. My target of being a 20-handicap is a long-term goal, not a short one.

All I know is that yesterday felt pretty damned good, and we’ll just have to see what happens when I play my traditional send-off round at Superstition Springs G.C. one week hence. It’s hard to believe Goodboys Invitational week is almost here, but I’m back to feeling like I’m trending in the right direction. Of course, I thought that a month ago, so we’ll just have to see!

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 18:18 | Comments (0)
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