As we get deeper into October, the opportunities to play golf in the midwest are rapidly shrinking. I have played twice in the past couple weeks, both rounds worthy of brief breakdowns.
First, as the title suggests, I have now carded a lifetime best of 92. In fact, I shot 92 in each of my last two rounds. Which, given where I started and what my goals are, is pretty great, right? As with any round of golf, there were enough shots left out there that I lamented not going lower as much as what I actually accomplished.
The first round was a solid round. I shot 46 on the front, 46 on the back. I had a birdie on each nine. On the 8th hole I hit a 30-foot birdie putt. On the 13th, a 503-yard par 5, I hit my second shot within three feet of the green and then left my chip a foot short. I banged in the birdie putt with a pretty rapid heart rate after nearly getting my first ever eagle.
I was consistent on both nine. My tee game was kind of crappy but everything else was working. I was hitting irons well, even on par threes. My short game and putting game were generally quite good. Four one putts and three three-putts.
The big bummer was that I was in a fight with the trees all day. I recovered well but it seemed like I was either hitting a tree or having to work around one on at least 12 holes.
On the sixth hole that nearly ruined my round. I hit my tee shot well right and had no clear shot through a line of trees to get back to the fairway. I tried to hit a low liner beneath the trees that would roll up the fairway, but got too much loft under the ball and hit a branch and drop about 30 yards away. I walked up and had a look at the green, about 175 away, but it was guarded by a tree on the right. Aim left and I bring sand in to play. So I tried to hit an easy seven iron that would either drop before it hit the tree or be short of the sand if I went left. Naturally I smoked it and hit that tree that guarded the green. I saw my ball smack a branch and drop straight down into the fairway. But when I got to the area where I expected the ball to be I couldn’t find it. I spent 10 minutes searching through the leaves, walnuts, and other fall foliage that was dotting the fairway but never found my ball. The glories of fall golf: losing a ball in the middle of the fairway.
I took a penalty stroke, dropped, and then had my only three-putt of the front nine. An eight that could have easily been a six or even a five. A six puts me at 90 for the day. A five and I freaking break 90.
I got out again yesterday on the course I’ve played several nine hole rounds on. It was very chilly so I was bundled up, and there was almost no one out, which made it nice. I raced around the front nine in an hour and fifteen minutes. In those 75 minutes I put up my best nine-hole score: 42. I had two birdies through my first seven holes – including a breaking, 30-footer on 7 – before I accidentally looked at my total score and saw I was sitting on 30. I tried not to think it, but I knew if I played the way I had played through the first seven on the last two, I would break 40.
Eight is a par three with trouble on both sides. You have to hit it straight. The fairway was being mowed when I stepped to the tee and the guy pulled his tractor off to let me hit. Would you have guessed that I barely made contact and hit a truly shitty shot that went about 40 yards? Fortunately I hit a decent second shot that rolled up to the green, leaving myself about 45 feet to work with. I hit a really solid putt, but just a hair fast and with a touch too little break. I burned the low edge and then my ball caught the decline and ended up 12 feet away. That sucked. I just missed my come-backer and left myself with a tricky four-footer to salvage a 5. I snuck it in rather nervously.
Then on nine I lost another ball in the fairway. Fucking leaves and low, October sun. A penalty stroke, a terrible chip, and a two put left me with a seven and 42 for the front nine. Which is awesome, when you consider where I was a couple months ago. But ending it that way really sucked knowing it could have been a 40 or even 39.
I made the turn and finally found some traffic., forcing me to wait on the tee box. I smoked my first two tee shots but I was losing confidence elsewhere. I had also never played this half of the course, so every shot was new. On 13 I linked up with another single, a very nice 78-year-old guy who was a delight to play with. Despite the company, my game fell apart. I suddenly didn’t feel comfortable over the ball, my short game went to hell, and my putting was terrible. On the front nine I had six one-putts and only needed 13 total. On the back I never one-putted and needed 20 total putts. And, honestly, I snuck a couple in that were lucky; it could have been worse.
I racked up 50 shots for the back nine, matching my 92 from the week before. I was thrilled about the first nine; upset about the second.
The one generally good thing from the round was that, for the most part, I drove the ball well. I decided to hit driver all day and force myself to stay in my swing. I had a couple that got away to the right, but these were low, cutting shots rather than the high, majestic slices I had been hitting last week. I had three drives over 270, and all three were in play.
I’ve been trying to focus on how good my first seven holes were and build on that, rather than obsess about why my swing disappeared on me on the last 12 holes. A few dreary, chilly, windy days will keep me from hitting balls for awhile, which may be a good thing. I’m hopeful I can get a few more rounds in this season before it gets too cold to get out.
- I get my approximate distances from the GolfPadGPS app. Not sure how locked in they are, but they’re close enough for me. ↩