Mid-Day Back 9

The weather in NC was glorious yesterday!

We hit a high of about 73 degrees and there was a touch of wind that made it the absolute perfect day to get out and play a few holes. The course in my neighborhood had the front 9 closed for maintenance, so I decided to just play the 9 instead of driving 7 minutes to the other course nearby and playing a full 18.

The day went fairly well after a few adjustments. I think I really do need to get out and warm up before a round if I’m looking to play my best. There were a few shots here and there that had me thinking perhaps I haven’t actually ever swung a club before and the times I remember swinging one were actually The Matrix simulating good swings.

Highlight of the 9: I hit a bad, high cutting driver to the right side rough on the first of two Par 5’s on the back 9 of this course. I was about 3 feet from the fairway and the ball was sitting up very well. There was a foursome in front of me that didn’t want to let me play through despite them playing slowly and poorly, and because only the 9 was open I didn’t want to go around and try to double back because of how the course is laid out. Lot of driving.

I took out the rangefinder and scoped the distance the flag as 265 yards. With the quality lie my ball was in, I knew it was a “green light” shot. I took 3 wood and hit it to the front left fringe, a total of about 18-24 inches off the green. I putted to the hole because the fringe here is dry and tight, plus the greens were running fast even after being sanded. The putt was about 65 feet. The ball STOPPED as if it hit a small hill about 2 inches from dropping into the cup. That would have been my first Eagle had the ball dropped, but I’m not one to shun a Birdie any day.

All in all, it was a good time and it helped identify some things I could be working on for the next round!

Third Round Down

Sunday was Cinco de Mayo…but it also felt like Sinko de Putt-o for me!

I played a round with friends at a course that none of us had played before. Usually when I play a new course, I tend not to keep score on the front 9, just to get a feel for how the greens roll and the basic layout of the course.

I surprised myself by making par on the first two holes, especially since my first shot on Hole 1 was pretty much dead left and left me having to hit over some incredibly tall trees. I smoked a 8 iron just shy of the green, only barely making through the uppermost branches of the trees, then chipped on from about 5 yards shy of the fringe and rolled in the par putt. Not a bad start considering the position that I had put myself in to begin with.

The real nightmare happened a few holes later. We were playing from the tips, which is only about 6,500 yards on this par 72. Hole 5 is a Par 3 with water surrounding the green to about 3/4 of the way back. We had weather here, and the sky had turned black and the wind was coming directly in our faces around 10-15 mph. The hole is 151 yards and with the rangefinder, I clocked the pin at 151.5 yards away.

Ball one: hook left

Ball two: wind caught it and blew it right.

Ball three: 8 iron, punched into the wind that flew and landed four and a half feet from the pin. Had it rolled forward, it probably would’ve went in for the quad-bogey-in-one ever.

Later on though, when I finally got my irons back under control, I stuck some really great shots.

My favorite was hole 17. Par 4, 401 yards.

I hit hybrid off the tee. The hole is a dogleg left with water guarding the front right and right side of the green. I didn’t hit the hybrid so well, and it left me with 191 yards to the pin which was front right and only a three yards on the green. This was a difficult shot, especially since the wind was still up, still right into our faces.

I pulled 5 iron figuring that if I tried to punch it, it would probably cut through the wind pretty well. I hit it so far off the toe, I wasn’t even sure that the club touched the ball. Somehow that produced a gentle baby draw that landed right where I wanted it to land, which was on the green. I was about 18 feet to the left of the pin, just a few inches off the fringe. I two putted for par and walked away happy.

All in all, a very good round in my book. Putting seems to be coming together a little better, though I am tempted to try a different putter again. I am also considering some additional tweaks to my clubs. The hybrid I have now seems to be the right head, just the wrong shaft. It kicks at the wrong point in the swing, so I will be looking into that. I also love the Grenade driver and 3-wood heads, but I am not a huge fan on the shafts, so I have to think about that too.

Until the next round!

Second Round In The Bag

Since I’m following the E=MCS swing method, this is a photo that I come back to fairly often for inspiration. The young Jack Nicklaus swing is so powerful and is the perfect example of what you would want your swing to be if you are using a good classic golf swing. This is what I have been working on for the last couple of weeks since I contacted The Coach and had him look over a short video of my swing. He let me know that I had definitely wandered away from the fundamentals and recommended making a few changes. I also stumbled across a change on my own that fixed a little problem I was having, leading me to share that with you now using Jack Nicklaus as the poster boy.

Yesterday I found myself on the course for only the second time this year and was excited to try some new clubs and new things that I have been working on to get my swing down. I set myself up methodically, putting my head and hands where they needed to be, widening my stance to be proper for the club I was hitting. Here is where the biggest change comes in. I typically will look at the back of the ball, which I recently discovered has my head cocked at an odd angle. I found that angle has lead to me looking at the very inside of the ball, which sets my whole body off on the wrong angle. That has caused my dragging the club too far inside and then coming back from even further inside. Combine that with the setup problems and you get fat and thin shots that have such a hook on them its a surprise they don’t boomerang back around to the tee I hit it off!

So I changed the angle of my head.

I looked at what Jack does when he sets up. Instead of the Mike Austin/Sam Snead forward press I was using, I waggle and then turn my head as Jack did (and still does) and found that my eye-line is now perfectly inline with the flight-line I would like, which is straight. Little did I know, but that changed much of what I found wrong!

And now, a short recap of yesterdays round!

The driver was booming, carrying further than it has before. I realized that as I was becoming tired, my mechanics would drop off, the power fade would return, later turning into a push fade from trying to swing too hard. I find it funny that I swing harder when I’m tired. I had a few truly excellent driver shots that made me feel like I was finally getting it down. My pivot felt great as well.

Irons were mostly on. I had a few shots here and there as I got tired that weren’t great, but mostly I was happy. The course was cart-path only since we’ve had enough rain to build an ark. I found myself grabbing a 5 and 6 iron along with my rangefinder and running across the fairway to shoot the distance. I zapped the guy standing over the flag on the green, the rangefinder says 235 yards. Neither the 5 or the 6 iron can get that far, but I’ll be darned if I’m not going to try. Pace of play and all that.

I take the 5, angle my stance to play into the draw that I’ll end up hitting off the sidehill lie I have with the ball above my feet, then let her rip. the ball landed approximately 210 yards away. stabbing directly into the false front and popping back out, rolling about 5 feet down the hill and holding. That was fantastic.

I also managed to hole a 40 yard wedge shot, shoot my first birdie of the year and sink a 40 footer for par on one of the longer par 3’s. I did hit a few errant shots on the back 9 as my strength failed me. I also need more work on the putter, but with a foursome slowing us down and another foursome running up behind us, I was prone to take less time lining up the putts and just practicing pace to make sure I am bonding with my new putter and golf ball. All in all, I am very happy with the round. I will be working more on my conditioning and making sure that I have more strength and wind to get through a round so I can keep up the level of play.

A little more work and I think I’ll be on to something!