Tag Archives: Golf Round Review

The New Season Begins!

Freshly mown grass abounds.  Flowers starting to bloom.  The birds are back, and so is the golf season!  I know the winter allowed more golf this year, but the spring is what I always define as the new golf season.

The goal during the winter was to maintain and maybe even improve slightly before the first round of the year.  I didn’t want to walk onto the course rusty and need to build back to where I finished.  I will admit, I didn’t follow the winter schedule perfectly and got closer to 3 days a week than 4, but I succeeded in starting strong!

My first round happened last week.  I played the optishot most weeks during the winter, but the optishot isn’t the same as the course.  The adrenaline pumps a little harder when staring down a flag at 150 yards.  I was ready for the round, but I needed to get into my game quickly to stay on track.

My first tee shot flew high and down the middle.  The ground is rock hard right now in Oklahoma, so I also received a nice roll.  I only had a wedge left into the green.  I hit a thin, terrible wedge shot that settle right next to the green.  My chip was crisp, but I 2 putted for bogey.  Not a terrible start.

Similar shots on the second hole, but I made the up and down for par.  The 3rd hole is a longer par 3.  I pulled my hybrid and hit a high, beautiful, drawing shot that bounced, hit the flag stick, and stopped 10 feet from the hole.  2 putts from 10 feet for par.

I continue with another par on 4 and 6.  My driver was high and near the target.  My irons are a little short, but mostly high and moving slightly right.  Contact is as good as I have hit a golf ball in a couple seasons.  I had 3 GIR on the front 9, which is 2 more than I averaged a whole round last season.

The back 9 wasn’t quite as good, but my stamina isn’t perfect yet.  I had 2 pars, and only 1 GIR.  However, I hit 5 straight fairways.  I ended up with 9/14 fairways and 4/18 greens.  I shot an 84, which is better than most of my scores last season.  This is a great start to the year.

My goal was to begin the year as good, if not better, than last year.  I believe the winter was a huge success.  My swing is continually getting better.  My contact is more pure.  I think this year will see huge improvements.  No regression from last year.  I can’t wait to create my new spring and summer routine to keep improving.  Keep coming back to check out my progress.

Can Fitness Really Affect My Golf Score?

Wow, the Ryder Cup last weekend was great. The excitement boiled over.  I enjoyed each day.  Watching golf inevitably brings the infomercials and quick commentary that sometimes highlights a weakness I need to work on, and last weekend was no different.

A couple years ago, I experienced the pleasure of playing Erin Hills, next year’s US Open site, near the end of the season. The weather started changing, and the course was beautiful.  Definitely one of my favorite courses, but I struggled mightily walking the course.  Erin Hills is walking only, which helps with the beauty, but walking it is climbing up and down non-stop hills.  It is the closest I have ever felt to the phrase, “walking up hill both ways.”  I played really well through 9.  On 10, I felt my legs completely lose strength.  I could walk and play, but my legs couldn’t stabilize my swing.  I ended up 6 shots worse on the back 9 with 1 birdie and the rest doubles or worse.

Erin Hills is a unique challenge. I never considered other courses to cause the same problems, especially since I ride a cart 95% of the time.  However, recent experiences made me question my assumption.

I started integrating the swing plane and weight shift on the course last round. The weight shift is working really well and creating better contact.  However, the back 9 saw similar problems as my experience at Erin Hills.  I didn’t shift my weight on 10, and subsequently, I pulled my approach low and left.  I did the same thing on 11.  My local course isn’t as penal as Erin Hills, so I still salvaged a decent round, but my lower body felt tired towards the end.

Every week, we hear the infomercials or announcers talk about a solid foundation. I always believed I possessed the solid foundation.  I am not in the best shape, but I am not terribly out of shape.  Last weekend it clicked though.  Hearing it after my experience helped me realize that even the slightest tiring can make a golf swing get out of sync.  Looking back, almost every round I feel like I lose my sync at some point during the round.  I sometimes get it back for a few holes, but many times, I finish without the same swing I started with.  My base may not be holding up to a full round.

My goal is a consistent golf swing, so being out of sync at the end of the round will definitely cause problems. I now realize that I need to integrate golf specific exercises into my routine.  I don’t plan on changing my routine yet, but after the end of the season, I will integrate off season training into my weekly schedule.

I purchased the Joey D workout program a few years ago and have multiple books on golf fitness. We still have nice weather here, so I have a little while longer to improve this season.  Come back to check out the plan I create for integrating both swing practice and golf fitness during the winter.  As the greats always say, great players are made during the off-season.  Enjoy the last few weekends of golf!

My Experience on a Different Kind of Tour Course

Walking in the footsteps of current major champions is awesome. Being humbled by major tour courses provides context and generates even more respect for tour players.  My destinations only followed the PGA Tour though.  I wondered if I would have the same emotions walking in the footsteps of slightly older champions at a Champions Tour stop.  I was not disappointed.

I took a trip to Branson, Missouri over the 4th of July holiday.  My family planned to enjoy Branson’s many attractions, but my main goal was to play Buffalo Ridge and Top of the Rock.  The 2 courses host the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf Champions Tour event.  Buffalo Ridge is ranked on Golf Digest’s most recent top 100 public course list.  Top of the Rock is the only 9 hole par 3 course to host an event from any of the major tours.  My sights were set on taking my progressing swing to another tour stop.

We had tee times on July 4th at Buffalo Ridge for 9am and Top of the Rock at 3pm.  As we pull in to Buffalo Ridge at 8, lighting illuminates the sky and surrounding Ozark Mountains like a bad 1980s thriller.  When we made it in the pro shop, they pulled everyone off the course.  The lightning delay began.

For the next 3 hours, the sky opened and torrential rain came down. The clubhouse designer did an outstanding job.  The entire back wall is a series of glass doors and windows looking out over the range and first hole.  The first hole is a downhill par 5.  When the rain let up, the fairway had no fewer than 3 independent streams of water running to the drain.  I thought the course would be water logged for days.  I just hoped we could still play both rounds.

The great staff at Buffalo Ridge moved our tee times around for both rounds. They let us warm up at Buffalo Ridge at 12 to begin play quickly thereafter.  They moved our Top of the Rock time to 6.  The courses are a few miles apart, so we built in enough time to pack up, get quick food, and still make it by 6.   The timing ended up being perfect.

After warming up, we headed to #1.

Hole 1

I noted a couple things. First, the rivers down the fairway were gone.  The drainage system worked great.  The course was definitely wet from the multiple inches of rain in the short period of time.  However, I never felt water logged or that it affected my play.  The course was in great shape even with all the rain.

The second thing I noticed on 1, and throughout the course, was the size. The tour courses possess huge brawny fairways and greens.  Buffalo Ridge’s fairways weren’t as big.  The greens didn’t look as huge.  However, players must still possess every shot in the bag.  The bunkering is great tournament bunkering.  Generous landing areas in spots, but if you take a risk to go long, bunkers protect everything.

My swing felt pretty good. I need to be able to repeat it more, but I am confident focusing on weight shift right now.  My contact is improving.  I hit my drive slightly left.  I hit a solid 5 wood to wedge distance.  Wedge on the green and 2 putt for par.  Great way to start.

I hit the fairway on 2 & 3. Green in regulation on 3, so 1 over through 3.  Double on the par 3 4th wasn’t ideal, but still on a good pace.  I then walk to the par 4 5th.  The view is outstanding.

Hole 4

Playing through the terrain is interesting. My vision of mountain golf includes the desert with manufactured greens.  These are lush mountains with great vegetation. The golf course seems to just naturally flow through the landscape.

The elevated tee looks down to a hard to judge fairway going left. Water on the right.  The miss is clearly left, but the large drop makes aiming difficult.  I hit a good drive that missed left, but still playable.  Hit it around a little to need a 1 putt for bogey, and it dropped.  Other than a snowman on 8, the front 9 was on track with a 45.

Hole 14 is a nice par 5. The length felt like a medium par 5.  However, most people can’t reach in 2.  A creek crosses directly in front of the green.  Carrying the creek and staying on the green is tough.  Rock formations border the right with bunkers protecting short and long.  The approach must be perfect.  Mine was not.  Beautiful hole.  Sloppy bogey.

Hole 15 is another elevated tee with a great view. Small waterfalls from a creek are right.  I aimed left to a generous landing area.  I crushed a drive, but it was straight right.  The line was unintentionally aggressive.  My ball barely cleared the creek and ended up in the first cut on the right.  Miss the green and bogey.

Hole 15

The rest of my round followed the same pattern, which I believe is a huge success. We then rushed to Top of the Rock.  I don’t have a hole-by-hole because we were doing our best to get everything in before dark.  While it is a par 3 course, the holes had great variety.  Numerous water holes and an island green.  The bunkering is insane for a par 3, but the Champions Tour can play this course for a reason.  The course feels like a collection of great par 3s from around the country.  Great experience.

Top of the Rock

While my score isn’t what it needs to be, I can see the consistency. On a Champions Tour course, I had 2 doubles and a quad.  The rest were pars and bogeys.  I can handle that for now.  I shot an 89, hit 4 GIRs, and 7/13 fairways.  The GIRs and fairways are gradual improvements.  The process is moving in the right direction, and I am playing great golf courses.  I would definitely recommend Buffalo Creek and Top of the Rock.

Swing Changes on a Tour Course – Exhilarating and Futile

The US Open at Oakmont started today. Oakmont Opens live in infamy for not only who wins, but also the brutal nature of the course.  Tiger once said a 10-handicapper couldn’t break 100 on the course.  I believe this is a hard course, but this is still golf.  The course can’t be that tough, can it?  I love playing tour courses to experience the difficulty to bring me back to reality.  I had that experience again last weekend.

In a twitter interview, Zach Johnson listed TPC San Antonio as one of the hardest courses on tour. The Oaks course at the TPC is rated tough, but I was surprised he listed it as one of the hardest.  After last weekend, I definitely agree the Oaks is a beast.

The JW Marriott and TPC facility are fantastic. If you make it to San Antonio, I highly recommend the resort.  The resort includes a waterpark for kids, numerous outdoor options, and 2 great golf courses.  My kids loved it, and I played a round at the Oaks.

I am blessed to have played multiple great courses over the years, including Whistling Straits and Torrey Pines South right before the 2008 open. TPC San Antonio includes similar challenges.  The only thing it lacked was the ocean/lake views.  You need every shot in your bag, and then some you don’t have.

TPC San Antonio – Oaks Course

The course begins with a reasonable par 4. Drive the ball in the fairway.  Approach a green with a couple bunkers.  One thing I notice at tour courses is everything is bigger.  The fairways are larger.  The greens are bigger.  TPC San Antonio follows that model.  I feel like I can hit every fairway.  I proceed to hit it left into the rough.  The rough isn’t Valero Texas Open length now, but the grass isn’t muni short either.  The ball nestles down with at least half an inch of grass blades above the ball.  Thick rough means tough shot, but I pull out a bogey.

Hole #2 is a reasonable par 5. I pull it left again.  Hack away through some rough a few times.  Tough chips and end with a double.  Hole #3 is a long par 3 over water with a huge bunker right.  You can’t miss short or right.  My first shot, short and right.  I hit again from the tee thinking I just mishit the shot.  I smash a beautiful 5 iron perfectly on line.  I am looking at the ball and the hole, and then is splashes just short in the water.

All my tee shots draw left, so I aim down the right side. I proceed to hit 3 straight fairways on 6, 8, and 9.  I got up and down on 5 and 8, so I am playing reasonably.  As I finish the front 9, I notice something odd about #9.  The hole flyover on the GPS carts (which are great) explains #9 is the only hole without a bunker.  Thinking about it, nearly every landing zone and every green is surrounded by large bunkers.  Bunkers large enough to build sand fortresses to live in.  It would be nearly impossible to play a round on the Oaks without being in at least 1 bunker.

Hole #11 is an outstanding risk-reward hole. A short par 4 with a 50 yard bunker in the middle of the fairway.  The fairway also stops with rough between it and the green to prevent running the ball all the way onto the green.  The left side of the fairway gives a great angle to the green.  The entire right side of the green is protected by sand.  Strategy is a must.  I failed to play strategically.  Double bogey.

TPC11

I was able to get the vast majority of my daily steps on hole # 14. The reasonable par 5 has a long bunker down the entire right side near the green rivaling the sand on the left of 18 at Pebble.  I miss my approach right of the bunker.  I helped my son setup for his shot, and then I walked backwards for what seemed like a mile to get around the bunker to get to my ball.  I should have walked right through the middle.  Exercise is good though.  I pitched it well enough to walk away with bogey.

Hole #16 is fun and nightmarish in the same breath. Great medium par 3.  Grab a 6 iron and go for it.  However, try to stay on the correct side of the green because there is a bunker in the middle of the putting surface.  I pull extra clubs and miss the bunker.  I also miss the green long.  Chip and 2 putt for bogey.

TPC13

The nice par 5 finish is also a great risk-reward. Hitting down the right side will setup for a good 3 shot par.  However, the hole has a creek down the left side with another fairway to go at the green.  Long hitters can challenge the water and go for broke.  I played it down the right, stayed dry, and took a bogey.  Conservative, but decent, finish.

TPC14

Zach definitely knows what he is talking about. TPC San Antonio’s Oaks course is tough.  Tons of bunkers with speedy greens.  Having a good strategy and playing to the right spots gives great options.  However, slight misses are penalized.  I loved playing the course.  My iPhone pics don’t come near doing it justice.  I will take my 95 and tip my cap to the pros.

Struggle and Joy of My Last 2 Golf Rounds

Pure joy, frustration, exhilaration, anger, fist-pumping, despair, and anticipation for the next round can all describe my last 2 rounds on the golf course. Golf evokes the widest range of emotions in a short 3-4 hours.  I experienced all those emotions twice in the last few days.  I can’t wait to go back.

April and May are busy months for me, so I wasn’t able to play rounds. I stayed on track with my plan, but optishot simulation is as close to the course as I came.  Optishot is nice, but it isn’t the same as the course.

 

Round 1 – Choctaw Creek 

I played a round at Choctaw Creek on Day 1. Choctaw Creek isn’t the best maintained course, but I found a great deal on Golfnow.  Our region received significant rain the last couple weeks, so the fairways weren’t mowed low (or at all) and shots wouldn’t roll out.  It played much longer than the 6000 yards on the scorecard.

The round started exactly as planned. I scored well on the optishot recently, so my expectations are high.  I placed my first drive in the middle of the fairway.  Great start.  I hit the second shot poorly and left it short of the green.  Chipped it past the hole.  2 putt bogey.  Not terrible.

The second hole started a poor stretch. I pulled the drive way left.  I didn’t get close enough for a chip, so I pitched it over the green.  Couldn’t get up and down for bogey, so double.  Third hole is an uphill par 3.  I pulled an extra club because I wasn’t hitting the ball pure.  The shot landed short.  Chip up.  2 putt. Bogey.

The frustration begins bubbling. Every mishit or off target shot brings me closer to screaming.  I double 5 and 9.  Front 9 47.  Choctaw Creek is not a difficult course.  I take a deep breath and decide to make a swing change.  I know changing the swing mid-round is a terrible decision, but this swing is not working.

As my Golftec post indicated, I have multiple different instructors’ swing philosophies duct taped together for my swing. I can tell I am out of sync and trying to manipulate the club with my hands.  My lower body and shoulders turn faster than my hands move, so I get stuck.  My shots are either wide right or hooks left.  2 way misses are unplayable.  I decided I would swing what felt like only halfway back to keep everything in sync.

In the age of instant gratification, the change tested my patience. Hole 11 and 12 were terrible.  I tripled both holes.  However, I struck the ball more solid.  My short game contributed a few of those strokes.  My swing was more in sync.  Pure strikes built confidence and my short game touch came back.  I played the next 6 holes in 3 over par with 3 one-putts.  I didn’t hit any GIRs, but I placed the ball close enough to get up and down.  I strolled to 18 tee box planning to hit my last fairway, and I did.  I still missed the green with an iron, but an up and down finished off the round with a par!  92 isn’t what I wanted, but only 3 over on the last 7 holes is exactly what I needed.

 

Round 2 – Guthrie Country Club

I found another good deal on Golfnow for Guthrie Country Club for the following day. The course is only a 9 hole course, but the slope is 133.  The greens are tiny.  The fairways are tree lined.  The course is better maintained than Choctaw Creek, but the recent rain still meant the grass wasn’t short.

I finished strong yesterday, so I walked to the first tee knowing today would be better. The first hole is a long par 3.  I struck a 5 wood reasonably well, but it landed short.  Chipped up and 2 putted for bogey.  The greens are moving a little slow, and my putter must be open at impact.  All my putts fall right at the hole.

The 2nd hole is a short par 4.  I crush a driver down the middle of the fairway.  I flush a wedge to 30 feet.  2 putts and a par.  My first GIR in 2 days.  The joy is growing.  The feeling of halfway back still works.  Hitting it solid also means I am not losing distance.

Everything feels and looks better after an easy par. Then the 3rd hole happened.  Crushed driver, but it faded too far right.  I proceeded to hit every tree on the right of the fairway before finally taking my double.  I proceeded with bogey, bogey, double, double, double.  The exhilaration is gone.

I am on 9 with despair. My fix isn’t working.  All my shots are pull hooks.  I finally realize on 8 that I am significantly closing the clubface in the downswing while also pulling left, so I hit numerous pull hooks.  Something must change.  Again, I uncharacteristically make a slight tweek on 9.  I focus on the club exiting right.  I can handle the draw or hook as long as it starts enough right.  I hit a pure 4 hybrid with a baby draw.  The gentle breeze brought it back towards the pin to 20 feet.  2 putt par to finish the firsts 9 at 46.  Not ideal, but progress is possible.

I played another 9 to get my 18 holes in. The back 9 got better, but I struggle with consistency.  The reason making swing changes doesn’t work on the course is because the changes won’t happen every swing.  My swing and emotions flipped back and forth with nearly every shot.  I had great drives down the middle but mishit the approach.  I had 3 doubles on the back, but also managed 2 pars going into 9.

My confidence rose walking to the 9 tee box. Water lines the right, but I hit such a beautiful shot the first time.  I knew I could do it again. I pull the same hybrid, make the same smooth swing exiting right, and the shot came off the club even better.  My ProV1 starts just right of the flag.  A small curve left and lands 15 feet short and right.  The ball rolls towards the hole and stops 3 feet short.  Great Shot!  I loved it.  I sped to the green.  I line up the 3 footer and sink the birdie!  Great finish.  2nd 9 43 for an 89.

Immediate results with huge score drops don’t happen. I am happy I scored better my second round.  I know my focus now.  Feel like half swing to stay in sync.  Club exits right, and I should focus on club hitting ground after ball.  Improving those areas will consistently give me a chance to score well.

 

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