July 13, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0to
Location: Superstition Springs Golf Club
Score: 45 + 54 = 99
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 25.7 / Change: (-0.9)

The par 5 #17 at Superstition Springs. It’s near 1 PM on a sweltering Saturday, the temperature is already 106, and there’s a giddyup of humidity starting to blow up the monsoon activity to our east and southeast. After yet another solid drive – my fourth fairway on “The Springs'” difficult back nine, I’ve muffed a planned low 5-iron pitch designed stay left of the pond right and stop just short of the pond left, allowing me, say, a 110-yard iron over the land bridge that separates both ponds. Instead, I flunked it off to the left up on the hill amidst a thin stand of pine trees. One of my playing partners has done the same thing, our balls lying just a yard away from each other.

“What are you planning on doing?”, asks Jose. He’s a cheery twenty-something with arms covered in tattoos. He’s learning the game and is the epitome of a grinder out there.

“Well, the smart play is to avoid these trees and pitch it down the hill to the 100-yard marker.”

“Dude, that may be smart but that’s pussy golf.”

“Where are you planning on going?”

“I’m going between the second and third tree and run it up that land bridge to the green.”

He chokes down on his 3-iron and takes a vicious slap at the ball. It nearly carries the land bridge but runs out of steam just before the end of the pond right, coming to rest about a foot from the farthest reach of the pond. He takes a short bow after a round of golf claps from our foursome.

“See? it’s easy.”

I choke down on my 5-iron. I’m not totally committed to the shot (shame on me!), it’s a different angle than the simpler out I had planned. (You see, I have a history with trees – if they’re out there, it’s a lock my ball is going to hit it.) I take a swing and it caroms off the third pine and bounces backwards to the middle of the fairway, 150 yards from the pin. I have the whole land bridge in front of me, so while it sucks that I’m now lying three and farther back then I was when I was lying two, I still have a legit shot at bogey. I take a good practice swing, but make that stupid dopey move on my downswing I’m trying to cure myself of and skull it into the pond. I drop another ball, but this time I’m seeing absolutely red and don’t think about aiming a little left and away from the pond left. I catch it cleanly, but it’s fading on me. It hits the mound left of the green and bounces into the pond. A chip and a two-putt later, I put a “X” on the card for a crowd-pleasing quad-bogey ten.

Jose? He chips on and two-putts for his bogey. With a wry smile he says, “Course management, bro.”

Hence the 54 on a back nine that I otherwise played as well as I ever have at the Springs. Listen, the back is tough: with the exception of the notorious par 4 #14 (which I happened this time to bogey with a solid drive and a equally-solid 4-hybrid, chip on and two-putt) the fairways are generous but the holes are all well-protected with bunkering (sand and grass) that requires you to be precise in your yardages. And since we were playing the 6700-yard Champions tees, there weren’t (at least for me) going to be a lot of GIR (green in regulation) opportunities. Still, I was lying at 38 coming to the #17 tee and had every reason to feel good about where I sat, even if my game wasn’t as sharp as it had been last weekend at Lone Tree.

It’s a lesson to be learned: if you have a plan, stick to it.

At any rate, #17 aside, it was another solid round, with another nine (in this case the front) in the mid-forties, and that without a real sharp game from 100 yards out. But the Springs will do that to you, forcing you to play defensive around its well-protected greens. My numbers were pretty good: while I had only three GIR opportunities (I can’t remember having to hit so many hybrids in my life, but that was good in a way – I needed the work!) and converted one. I played the four par 3s at two-over, something I’m quite proud of. The par 5s were a bit of a problem, but it wasn’t for the lack of my drives off the tee (I hit all four fairways) it was what happened after that that resulted in me playing them +12 after getting out of position with my send shot (5-woods all pushed a little left of where I wanted them to go). I had 30 putts on the atrociously-aerated greens, and, a couple of hiccups aside, my chipping game was good.

Without a doubt I’m trending in the right direction. I’ve worked really hard on my game this year and have gotten it into a place where, even if I’m not executing well I know exactly what it is I’m trying to do out there. I’m starting to accumulate nine-hole rounds in the mid-forties (my ultimate goal). For the second straight round, I hit my driver with renewed confidence: even on the notorious #14 my knees didn’t go to jello as they normally do. Instead, I made a good swing and feathered a soft fade to the center of a tight fairway. I’ll admit that my irons are still a work in progress, but I’m getting more comfortable with those as well.

I enter Goodboys Invitational week happy that I’m done with the Arizona heat (at least as far as golf goes), and I’m looking forward to a nice break after Goodboys Week is over. There’s lots to do to finish off the back yard and all kinds of housecleaning to do. But I’m ready for some New England golf and seeing how my game holds up under those conditions.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:39 | Comment (1)
1 Comment
  1. Looking forward to seeing you soon! Bring your game ( less the X). … Goose

    Comment by Goose — July 14, 2019 @ 4:39 am

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