Days until Goodboys Invitational weekend: 11
Location: Superstition Springs Golf Club
Score: 49 + 50 = 99
Handicap: 24.2 / Trend: 23.8 (-0.4)
Funny how golf is. Most of the time we high-handicappers post a score we trudge to the 19th hole, plop ourselves down in front of a brewskie and our playing partners and bemoan those six or seven shots that got away from us, truly feeling (whether rightly or not) that we left shots out there that kept us from posting a real low score.
Today was not one of those days.
I chose the title of this post for two reasons: 1) I feel damned fortunate to have escaped from the clutches of Superstition Springs Golf Club with a 99, and 2) I’m ecstatic at the prospect of not having to tee it up there again for a very long time. In both ways, I have escaped the torture of the Springs and the special form of punishment it seems to reserve for The Great White Shank, no matter what game he brings to it.
I was actually feeling pretty damned good about my game going into today’s round. Per a suggestion from Alex Black during my last lesson I bit the bullet and tweaked the take-back on my driver in order to gain a more repeatable swing, and had had one of my best range sessions of the year yesterday. As a result, I think I had the best day ever driving the ball at the Springs. But the problem with the Springs is that it doesn’t care one way or the other: you can struggle off the tee and make good approach shots. You can hit the ball well off the tee and be just a hair off on your approach shots (as I was today). Or, you can hit the ball well off the tee and hit good approach shots and struggle with your short game, as I did on several holes today. It doesn’t matter: the Springs will find a way to penalize you to the umpteenth degree. In short (as you’re probably guessing by now), you have to have all cylinders firing on your game in order to post a low number at the Springs, and you can never relax, not for one shot, or you’ll be looking at double-bogey so fast it will make your head spin.
Today it seemed no matter what I did the Springs did everything it could to make breaking 100 excruciatingly hard. Every bounce – and I do mean every – seemed to go against me. A slightly pushed 5-iron off the tee at the par 3 #3 hit something and bounded far left, leaving an incredibly tricky pitch under a tree that I was lucky to just get back near the green. My approach with a pitching wedge on the next hole was a foot from being perfect; instead it bounced uphill into a pot bunker. Rather than having at worst a two-putt for bogey I ended up with a quad eight. Balls that typically bounced left would go right, and vice-versa. And not for anything good.
What held my game together today was my driver and my putter. The scorecard would show only six fairways hit, but by and large I was on target nearly all day. And between holes six and eleven I one-putted five of those holes. I’d like to have that pushed tee shot left on #14 that ended up in the pond, but it was the crappy 5-iron I had no business trying to get to the green that went OB that pretty much sealed my fate for the quad-bogey eight that resulted. As the back nine went on and the heat began to really cook both me and everything around me, I was grinding on every shot – even the two-footers I had left for bogeys and double-bogeys coming in. The Springs wasn’t giving anything away for free, and when I tapped in a two-footer for my double-bogey and a 99 their was no sense of joy or angst or anything: I was just numb, physically and emotionally drained, just glad to get the hell out of there.
With only eleven days to go before Goodboys Invitational weekend I’m not in a bad place. The Springs is just a damned tough course with no holes whatsoever that even begin to fit my eye. Had I played any other course, say, Trilogy at Power Ranch or Lone Tree or Stonecreek I really think my game today was good enough to hang something in the low 90s up there – my tee game was that good. But I know there’s still some work out there to do: I have to get more confident with my irons – Alex would be on me about not trusting my swing and fighting my weight shift. And I’ve got to figure out where the hell my 5-wood and my 3- and 4-hybrids went: I’d been hitting them so well recently and today they really hurt me on some holes. But these are minor things: as I say, Superstition Springs demands precision and accuracy on virtually every hole, and speaking only for me (others may feel differently) I can never relax when I play there. Disaster always seems to be around the corner, and the pressure to consistently make good shots doesn’t translate well to my swing.
It will be interesting to see how my game translates to New England golf and the pressure of a Goodboys Invitational weekend. My game seems quite different from the last time I teed anything up there, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. As for Arizona golf, I’m pretty much done for the year, but I’ve made great progress: I started the year as a 26-handicap and have take more than two strokes off it since. So I’m trending well heading back to New England and looking forward not just getting away from the heat, but Superstition Springs as well.