Saturday, September 17, 2016

Charlotte Area Golfweek Amateur Tournament - 9/17/2016 - River Hills Country Club (Lake Wylie, SC)

Scorecard Link - 9/17/2016 

Game Golf Link - 9/17/2016 

When you only play a course once a year or so, you tend to forget certain things.  River Hills Country Club is one of those courses for me.  I had only played it one time, which was last season in August.  I wasn't playing overly well at the time and I ended up posting an ugly 102 which was adjusted to a 98 by tour rules.  I didn't remember a whole lot about the course, but one thing I did remember is that is was a tight course.  I knew, going in, that it was going to be a round which put a premium on keeping the ball in play.

One of the things I failed to remember, is that the greens are excessively quick.  Foolishly, I tell people that I 'love' putting on fast greens... which I do.  I just recently joined as a member of Rock Hill Country Club, and while the greens aren't ultra-quick... they're certainly fast enough that I'd label them fast.  I spent a good 75 minutes on the practice green at RHCC on Friday working on 6 foot putts.  I wanted to ensure that those weren't going to cost me extra strokes on Saturday.  Well... suffice it to say that, by the time I reached the practice green at River Hills on Saturday... it didn't much matter.  The greens there are F-A-S-T!  Do NOT get above the hole or you risk a three-putt at any moment.

Anyway... I was looking forward to the round and, honestly, I felt like I was going to have a pretty good shot at posting something reasonable and within the top four spots which would put me 'in the money' at another tournament.  Unfortunately... things didn't go as planned, but... despite some struggles, I actually had some moments where I felt pretty good throughout the day.

As always... details are below.

Hole #11 - Par 3 - 158 Yards

I wasn't able to properly go through my practice routine at the range prior to my round.  The club only allowed us to hit off the mats, which were essentially just a thin carpet placed on top of a cement platform.  For this reason, I never really got warmed up.  So, when we got to this tee, I measured the distance as 140 yards, up a hill... so, playing about 145.  We also had a helping wind behind us, so... I figured it was a perfect club for my 8 iron.  I hit that club about as well as I could have from the tee, but I came up a good 7 yards short.  I was left with a tough lie on a slope in front of the green and my chip shot was horribly heavy and I advanced the ball about 5 feet.  This left me with, pretty much, the same shot.  This time, I nipped it perfectly and watched as the ball hit the pin and dropped in for an unlikely par.  As you'll see throughout the round, hitting the pin or the cup became a theme throughout the day for me.

Hole #12 - Par 5 - 519 Yards

One of the major downsides to the range situation at this course is that hitting driver to warm up is not a realistic proposition.  I took maybe 4 swings with the club on the range and then realized that, due to the stance I was forced to take, it wasn't going to work out for me... so, I didn't get an idea of how I was going to hit the driver that day.  Typically, I'll hit 10-15 shots with my driver on the range to 'work out' any issues I'm having and know what kind of a shot shape I'd be playing with, so... having only 4 swings did nothing for me.

On the tee at #12, this was apparent as I pull-hooked my tee shot into the woods on the left.  I then hit a similar provisional, but that one stayed in play.  I was left with nothing more than a punched 5 iron beneath the trees and back into the fairway.  This then left me about 140 to the hole out of the rough and over a tree.  My 8 iron clipped the top of the tree but still made it to the green.  From 43 feet, I was somehow able to two-putt for a double bogey.

Hole #13 - Par 4 - 339 Yards

After my troubles on the tee on the previous hole, I wanted to be safe here, so I elected to hit a 4 iron from this tee.  It found the fairway and left me about 155 yards to the hole.  Unfortunately, I hit a dead-pull 7 iron that landed in a bush left of the green.  After an unplayable lie, I hit the ball to the back of the green and watched as it rolled into the fringe.  An extremely ugly putt from there left me 18 feet to avoid a triple, and I was somehow able to sink that for a second straight double bogey.

Hole #14 - Par 4 - 344 Yards

There is really no need for a driver on this hole but, I stood on the tee and wanted to make a good swing with that club, so I chose to hit it.  I hit a straight shot when I was looking for a cut and the ball ended up out of bounds by a few inches.  This meant I had to go back to the tee.  I hit a solid shot from there just off the right side of the fairway.  That left me about 85 yards to a front pin.  My lob wedge from the rough was short.  I then chipped up and hit the pin again, but the ball didn't fall.  Instead, it kicked out to about 9 feet where I was unable to save a double bogey this time and instead, settled for a triple on a fairly simple hole.  

Hole #15 - Par 4 - 368 Yards

I made an angry swing with the driver on this hole.  Still, I tugged it left and watched as it hit the tree to the left of the fairway.  Luckily, I found the rough next to the fairway trap which left me about 130 yards up the hill and into the breeze.  I hit a 7 iron from there and caught the green, leaving me about 14 feet for birdie.  Although I hit a good putt, it didn't drop and I settled for a tap-in par.

Hole #16 - Par 4 - 393 Yards

Another driver... another pull.  I got a beneficial kick off the cart path and back to the right, finishing in the fairway.  This left little more than a wedge up the hill.  I didn't hit the greatest shot from there, though, as the ball finished short and in the fringe.  I putted from there to about 4 feet and was able to make that for a second consecutive par.

Hole #17 - Par 3 - 184 Yards

My 6 iron from this tee was (you guessed it) pulled a bit.  The ball stayed out to the left and finished pin-high in a bunker.  I hit a pretty good shot from there to about 10 feet.  Although it was only 10 feet, it was extremely quick.  I somehow managed to find the proper line and the ball dropped giving me three straight pars and putting me in a good little groove.

Hole #18 - Par 4 - 347 Yards

I love this hole.  I think it's a pretty hole and can be trouble if not played properly.  I hit a solid 4 iron that ran out to 225 yards and left me a 9 iron from about 135 yards to the back pin.  I hit my shot right on line but it finished up in the middle of the green which left me about 28 feet for my birdie.  I totally misread the green, however, and my putt finished about 5 feet to the right of the hole.  I was unable to make that as the ball lipped out and I was left to settle for a tap-in bogey.

** NOTE - After the rough patch from 12 through 14, it was nice to put together some solid holes.  As I headed to the front 9 with 10 holes left to play, I felt like I was very much in it.  I just needed to avoid the big numbers and I'd be fine.  My focus was on trying to keep the ball in play from the tee.  If I could have done that, things would have been fine.   

Hole #1 - Par 4 - 360 Yards

I hit a solid drive from this tee but watched as it leaked just a bit towards the fairway bunker.  Fortunately, it stayed out but finished just off the fairway.  I was left with a 9 iron from there.  I caught it well, but the ball only got to the front of the green.  I was left with a 24 footer for birdie but I hit a horrible putt.  I managed to make the 5 footer coming back for my 4th par in the last 5 holes.

Hole #2 - Par 4 - 335 Yards

Another short hole meant another 4 iron from the tee.  I didn't catch it very well, but the ball found the fairway and left me a good look up the hill at the pin.  My 7 iron from there was about 18 inches from being perfect but instead, I watched as it hit the rough just shy of the green and rolled down into the bunker.  I blasted out from there to about 15 feet and very nearly made that for par... but settled for a bogey instead.

Hole #3 - Par 3 - 163 Yards

Looking back on my round, I'm pretty sure this is where I threw my chance out the window.  I was on a roll having played the last 6 holes in +2, but on this tee... I hit the worst 7 iron I possibly could have.  I watched as the ball hooked wildly to the woods on the left and then hit a house.  I had hoped that I hit the house hard enough that the ball kicked back into play, but... it was out of bounds.  My provisional was on line, but well short and in the bunker at the front of the green.  A heavy blast from there left me 52 feet from the cup and I was unable to make that.  The 2 foot tap-in gave me another triple bogey and took all the wind from my sails.

Hole #4 - Par 5 - 491 Yards

Not knowing a course is almost always a big disadvantage.  This came into play on this hole.  I did not remember this hole from my round here last year, and... looking at the scorecard, I figured it was a reachable hole.  I didn't realize that only a perfectly placed bomb from the tee would allow a shot at getting to the green with my second shot.  If I had known that, knowing that I was struggling with the driver, I probably would have elected to hit a 4 iron from the tee... but, instead... I went at the ball with everything I had and a driver in my hand.  This resulted in a pull-hook into a hazard.  My drop, up the left side, meant that I had nothing but a punch out.  That left me in the fairway but nearly 200 yards away.  My hybrid from there was left in a good position, and I hoped that I'd have been able to get up & down from there, but a poor pitch put that to rest and I ultimately settled for a third triple bogey and the realization that, unless I did something really special down the stretch... my shot at finishing in the money was gone.

Hole #5 - Par 3 - 160 Yards

I hit an ugly, fat 8 iron from the tee here as it was only playing about 140 yards or so.  My pitch shot from short of the green hit the cup with some pace on it which prevented it from falling, but left me a fairly simple 4 footer for a par in the midst of all the chaos in my game.  

Hole #6 - Par 5 - 531 Yards

I finally managed to put a good swing on the ball with a driver here, unfortunately, my line was a little too aggressive and the ball ran through the fairway, preventing me from an opportunity to go for this green.  Instead, I had to punch below some trees up the right side and back into the fairway.  This left me a wedge, but I picked the wrong wedge and ended up 70 feet short of the hole.  A three-putt from there, while expected, was painful and led to a bogey while wasting a good drive.

Hole #7 - Par 4 - 352 Yards

A 4 iron from this tee found the fairway (I hit 4 fairways in 4 attempts with that club throughout the day) and left me a perfect 8 iron distance to the hole.  I tugged it and watched as it kicked off the hill and to the left, right towards a pond.  Luckily, it got caught up in the rough and left me a pitch up to the hole.  As I had been doing all day, I hit another pin.  It didn't drop, but it left me a 6 footer for par... which I promptly proceeded to miss.  Another bogey after being in great position off the tee.  

Hole #8 - Par 4 - 367 Yards

Even though it's a short hole, it plays uphill the entire way.  This led to me hitting the driver again, but I hit a good one here.  Just as with the 6th hole, I took the wrong line and ended up through the fairway.  Another 8 iron... but this one came up short.  The way I was chipping the ball, I should have chipped this one... but, I went with the putter through the fairway.  Luckily, the ball hit the pin, again, but it still left me 9 feet above the hole.  I hit a horrible, ugly putt from there that ran 6 feet past the hole and I couldn't make that coming back.  A three-putt double bogey that felt more like a four-putt because I putted from just off the green.  

Hole #9 - Par 4 - 385 Yards

After the last hole... I was stewing.  My goal had become to finish second in my group because I knew that one of my playing competitors was going to win the tournament by this point.  He'd been playing solid golf all the way through.  This is a hole I could have gotten away with hitting a 4 iron from the tee, but I wanted to be aggressive and hit my driver.  Once again, my line was too aggressive and it resulted in putting myself out of position from the tee.  I was left with nothing but a 4 iron beneath some trees which ran into a bunker in front of the green.  I blasted out to about 24 feet then hit a decent putt to about 3 feet.  Then I completely fell apart standing over that ball and pushed it well right, leading to another double bogey.  

Hole #10 - Par 5 - 493 Yards

I figured, standing on this tee, that I would need an eagle to have any shot at being in the money.  I ended up hitting one of my better drives of the day into the left side of the fairway.  I was left with about 220 yards, down a hill and over a pond to the green.  I knew if I struck a hybrid well, I'd carry the water and get to the green.  Whether it was a lucky thing or not, I hit a horribly fat shot from there.  The ball ran out into the fairway leaving me a sand wedge to the green.  I put that to about 20 feet for a birdie attempt.  I hit a putt that was right on line but came up about 4 feet short... then, for the 4th consecutive green, I missed a putt inside 6 feet and was left with a tap-in bogey to close out my round.  

Round Stats
  • Score - 93
  • Penalty Strokes - 5
  • Putts - 35
  • Fairways - 6 of 14
  • Greens in Regulation - 5 of 18
  • Up and Downs - 4 of 8
  • Sand Saves - 1 of 4
Even though I felt like I threw away my chances on the holes where I put the ball out of bounds from the tee, the struggles I had on the greens were ultimately what did me in.  The winner was the guy from my group who posted an 88.  A 92 would have put me in a tie for 4th.  It reiterated to me that, playing in the C Flight, I'm never really out of it and I need to focus on every shot because it has the potential to be THE shot that puts me into or takes me out of the money.

Next weekend is the final tournament of the year for the Charlotte tour.  It's a 2 day major played at Country Club of Salisbury and Irish Creek, which are 2 of my favorite courses.  After that, there is a 3+ week break until the National Championship in Hilton Head.  That means that the tournament next weekend is my final opportunity at a major and my final opportunity to win my way into the National Championship.  I know I've got some work to do between now and then!

Until next time...


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Charlotte Area Golfweek Amateur Tournament - 8/20/2016 - The Palisades Country Club (Charlotte, NC)

Scorecard Link - 8/20/2016

Game Golf Link - 8/20/2016 

We're down to only a handful of tournaments remaining on the 2016 schedule, so it's becoming crunch-time as we head towards the National Championship in October.  The C Flight leader was just about out of touch for me to catch, but... I was still hoping to go in and make a run at catching him.  To do that... I would need to have another strong showing, but at a course that is much, much more difficult than where we played last week.  This week, we headed to The Palisades Country Club on the south side of Charlotte, just over the border from South Carolina.  I got to play there twice last season and really enjoyed the course, but didn't play overly well during either visit to that course.  

Things didn't end up as well as I'd hoped.  I played some decent golf for a good portion of the round, but there were a few holes where I just made poor decisions, poor swings or both... and they added strokes to my total.  In the end, I posted a 93 which was good for 7th place.  The problem is that the C Flight leader ended up winning the tournament and made it impossible for me to catch him unless he doesn't play in the final 2 events of the season.  

It's frustrating, but... it now allows me to focus on playing good golf and finishing as high in the standings as possible.  I'm already locked in for Hilton Head, so now it's just a matter of maintaining the momentum I've built and making sure I put up as good a showing as possible when the time comes in October.

As always, the details of my round are below.  

Hole #15 - Par 5 - 483 Yards

I caught a break as I got to start on a pretty simple hole.  There was a hazard to the right of the fairway, but... with how wide the hole was... it shouldn't have been a problem.  I hit what I thought was a really good drive, but it didn't go very far and it hopped just off of the fairway into the first cut of rough.  From there, I caught my 4 iron ever-so-heavy but it still put me in good position, leaving me about 126 yards to the hole, up the hill.  My 9 iron was thin and finished over the green in a really poor spot.  It took me 2 shots to get on the green from there and then I tapped in from just about 2 feet for a bogey to start.

Hole #16 - Par 4 - 368 Yards

This hole was a case of not having much course knowledge.  I wasn't really sure how far it was to reach the pond at the end of the fairway, so I played chicken and hit a 4 iron from the tee.  Although it was a good shot, it still left me 160+ to the hole.  In my mind, all I wanted to do was clear the hazard and finish on dry land... but, that didn't go as planned.  My 7 iron was thin and I ended up short and in the water.  My drop left me in some pretty thick rough, so from 100 yards, I hit a 50 degree wedge that found the green.  I couldn't make the bogey putt from 16 feet, so I tapped in for a double.  

Hole #17 - Par 4 - 360 Yards

Going into the round, I had no intentions of hitting driver on this hole.  There hole tilts from right-to-left and there is a ton of trouble left... but, I knew a 4 iron was going to leave me a long way to go up a hill, so... when I got to the tee and realized that it was pushed back a bit, I pulled my driver.  I proceeded to blow 2 shots dead right and into the woods.  Luckily, we managed to find my original shot, but it was a LONG way back and in the rough.  I smacked a 4 iron up into the fairway and then hit a lob wedge a little deep onto the green.  2 putts from 24 feet left me with a bogey.

Hole #18 - Par 4 - 422 Yards

This hole is a monster.  Trouble left... out of bounds right... and IF you find the fairway, you still have a long shot with a carry over a hazard to the green.  It's safest to play it as a par 5 and if it you make a crazy up & down for par... great!  My tee shot drew right towards the fairway trap on the left but stayed short.  I hacked a 9 iron back into the fairway, leaving myself about 90 yards to the flag.  I hit what I thought was a perfect sand wedge, but it landed shy of the green and rolled down the hill.  I hit an okay chip from there to about 6 feet, and then tugged the bogey putt just a bit, forcing myself to take a double.  An ugly bogey - double - bogey - double start.

Hole #1 - Par 4 - 362 Yards

Again, I had zero intention of hitting driver here, but it appeared longer than it probably was.  I went with driver and pulled it left.  It hit a tree branch and dropped down.  My provision was dead center... but we found my first in an ugly spot in the woods.  It took me 3 shots to get it from there into the fairway.  From that point, I hit a good 5 iron onto the green and took 2 putts from 23 feet for a triple.  I was now beginning to get discouraged.

Hole #2 - Par 4 - 408 Yards

This was a hole where I thought I killed my drive, but it still left me miles to go.  I hit the fairway, but my drive only went 228 yards, leaving me about 185 to the flag.  My 4 iron was dead on line but came up short and in the greenside bunker.  I blasted out from there to about 22 feet and then nearly hole that for par, but it finished on the lip.  I tapped in for a bogey.

Hole #3 - Par 5 - 492 Yards

I hit a pretty good drive on this hole and left it in the center of the fairway.  I didn't feel that there was any way I was getting to the green, so I hit a 4 iron up as far as I could.  It finished just off the right side of the fairway.  A lob wedge from there looked great but finished on the front fringe.  I elected to putt from there and got it to about 4 feet.  I was able to make that for my first par of the day!

Hole #4 - Par 3 - 144 Yards

My 8 iron from this tee started out exactly on the flag but drifted off to the right just a touch.  I was left with an 18 foot birdie attempt.  I played too much break and never gave it a shot, but settled for an easy 2 foot putt for a second consecutive par.  

Hole #5 - Par 4 - 290 Yards

I was feeling pretty good at this point.  I had played the previous few holes pretty well and was coming to my favorite hole on the course.  It's a wide open hole and the only trouble is a bunker in the middle of the fairway at about 210 yards from the tee.  If you avoid that bunker, it should be a simple hole.  My drive went way right and was found nestled next to a small tree.  I was able to advance it out of there and into the rough, but then I just made a mess of it from there.  A fat wedge was followed by a sh-nk... and then I putted from the fringe to 9 feet.  I couldn't stop the bleeding and settled for a triple bogey on what is quite possibly the easiest hole on the course.

Hole #6 - Par 5 - 496 Yards

I hit a bullet of a drive here, but because of the wet fairway, it didn't go anywhere.  I couldn't get to the green because of the trouble short, so I hit a 6 iron into a good position and that left me a simple little wedge shot.  My lob wedge was at the flag but finished just shy.  I had a difficult pitch from there but got it to 6 feet.  Unfortunately, I couldn't save my par and had to settle for a bogey.

Hole #7 - Par 4 - 346 Yards

When I stood on this tee, I made a comment about disliking this hole.  I then hit a 4 iron into a great position in the fairway.  I was left with about 150 yards, up the hill... and then I hit an ugly, fat 7 iron that finished in the hazard.  I made a mess of it from there, resulting in a third triple bogey on the front side.  

Hole #8 - Par 3 - 146 Yards

I hit a choked-down 7 iron from the tee here as the pin was way back.  I found the right side of the green, but I was 33 feet away.  I proceeded to blast my first putt 8 feet past the hole and then was unable to make that coming back for par, settling for a three-putt bogey.

Hole #9 - Par 4 - 357 Yards

Oddly, I played this hole very similarly to how I played it last year.  My drive was up the left side but caught an overhanging branch, kicking it into the woods.  I couldn't advance it very far, but I got the ball out and into the fairway.  I had about 160 to go, so I played a low, cutting 6 iron that finished just behind the hole.  I couldn't make the 16 footer for par, but finished the front side with a bogey.

** NOTE - After making 3 triples on the front side, I really didn't expect much of a score.  I knew that I played pretty well except for those holes, but I was still upset with myself.  When we added things up, I sat at a 49 for that side.  Knowing I had opened the first 4 holes in +6, I wasn't expecting to be able to do much heading in.  Still... I was optimistic about possibly making a birdie or two and finishing inside the top 4.  

Hole #10 - Par 3 - 143 Yards

This hole was playing much shorter... in the neighborhood of 120 yards, and downhill.  My pitching wedge was pin high but pulled a little left.  I pitched on to about 12 feet from there, but couldn't make the par putt.  From 2 feet, I made the bogey putt.  Not the start to the last few holes I was hoping for, but... at least it wasn't a triple bogey.

Hole #11 - Par 4 - 316 Yards

I hit another very solid drive here which left me about 85 yards, up the hill to the hole.  I hit a pretty good sand wedge from there but pulled it a little, leaving me 23 feet from the hole.  A frustrating three-putt from there led to another bogey.

Hole #12 - Par 5 - 470 Yards

My drive on this hole was beautiful.  It caught the slope in the fairway and fed down the hill a bit more, leaving me about 190 to the flag.  I debated between a 4 iron and my hybrid, but I elected the 4 iron from that position.  It was nearly perfect and I watched as the ball cleared the hazard short of the green, landed on the front edge and rolled into the middle of the green.  I was left with 30 feet for my eagle try, but I didn't get close.  I left myself a testy 5 footer for birdie, but I was able to sink it, giving me hope for a skin.

Hole #13 - Par 3 - 161 Yards

I thought I was going to be dead on the flag but my ball actually carried all the way to the back of the green.  I was left with an impossible putt and I never got close.  My initial putt fan from there 7 feet beyond the hole and I couldn't make that for par, settling for ANOTHER three-putt bogey.

Hole #14 - Par 4 - 414 Yards

I was on my final hole, and to be honest... I really was kind of done at that point.  I had very little hope of finishing in the money, but I wanted to finish strong.  I hit one of my better drives of the day, finishing in the center of the fairway.  I had about 153 yards to the flag and I caught my 7 iron a little heavy, leaving it short... but it ran onto the green.  From 36 feet, I JUST about sunk the putt for birdie, but it dropped off the right at the last second.  I tapped in for a par to close out my round.

I ended up posting a 44 on the back side.  With the horrible start I had to my round, I wasn't at all upset about this.  In fact, when we added it up and I saw I had posted a 93 (and I was the best score in my group)... I had a tiny sliver of hope that others had struggled as well.  When we got in... it wasn't to be.  The winner posted an 84 and then the money spots were a pair of 88's and an 89.  

Round Stats
  • Score - 93
  • Penalty Strokes - 2
  • Putts - 36
  • Fairways - 8 of 14
  • Greens in Regulation - 6 of 18
  • Up and Downs - 1 of 6
  • Sand Saves - 0 of 1
There are now 4 weeks until the next tournament on our schedule.  This means that I've got to find a way to keep my game moving in the right direction.  I hope to play once or twice per week, but... with work getting busy, I'm not sure if I'll find the time each week to do that, so... I'll have to see what I can do.

Until next time...


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Charlotte Area Golfweek Amateur Tournament - 8/13/2016 - Cabarrus Country Club (Concord, NC)

I've been on a roll lately and it's a really nice feeling.  After this round, my handicap index has dropped to a new 'career' low of 15.0 as of the August 15th revision.  In addition, my tournament scores have been consistently solid.

Since winning my first event in June, I posted back-to-back poor finishes in a pair of two-day major events (including the visit to Kiawah).  The day after that, however, I came back and posted a 2nd place finish with an 85 at TPC Piper Glen.  Then in the next tournament (another two-day major), I shot 87 at Cowan's Ford and 89 at Carolina Lakes to finish 4th.  After having to miss a tournament due to some much needed family time, I came back and posted another victory by shooting an 83 at Cabarrus Country Club.

This bumped me all the way up to 3rd place in the points standings and has me feeling really good as we head down the home-stretch of tournaments leading to the National Championship at Hilton Head in October.  As always... the details of my round are below for you to read through if you so desire.

Hole #14 - Par 4 - 345 Yards

I started things off with a fairly simple hole.  There was really no trouble to be found as there were holes on either side of us, so losing a ball would be a difficult thing to do.  With that in mind, I decided to hit my driver from the tee.  I had hit a slight pull, but it found the first cut of rough which was only marginally fluffier than the fairway, and on a lot of courses, it would have been the same height as the fairway.  That left me about 120 yards to the hole.  With the wind into our faces a bit, I choked down on a 9 iron and hit a solid shot that finished just above pin-high and about 19 feet to the right of the hole.  My birdie attempt broke more than I thought, but left me a simple 2 footer for par.

Hole #15 - Par 3 - 147 Yards

This is a short par 3, but it's all carry over the water.  I hit a solid 8 iron, but I pulled it left of my target.  I ended up in a very thick lie below the green and had no real shot at getting it close.  To be safe, I played left of the hole to take running off the green out of play.  My pitch landed where I wanted but ran out to about 20 feet.  Until the last few inches, my putt looked good, then it dove below the hole.  A tap-in for bogey to put me at +1 though 2 holes. 

Hole #16 - Par 4 - 347 Yards

Even though it's listed at 347 yards, this hole was playing more like 370 and it was into the wind.  I would have ordinarily hit a driver from this tee, but because there was some trouble on the left side, I decided to be safe and hit the 4 iron.  I struck it well, up the left side, but it finished just off the fairway in the first cut of rough again.  I was left with about 160 yards into the breeze, so I took a 6 iron.  Even though I made solid contact, it started right and drifted on me, finishing to the right of the green.  I hit an okay shot from the rough that finished about 15 feet from the hole, but I was unable to convert that for par so I took another bogey.

Hole #17 - Par 4 - 350 Yards

A downhill dogleg to the left with a trap at the corner.  My target was a tree at the end of the fairway to the right of the bunker at the corner.  I hit a near perfect 4 iron and left the ball in a great position.  From about 130, I hit a very poor 9 iron that never had a shot.  It finished below the green on the right side.  I managed to hit one of the best shots of the day from there to about 5 feet and made the putt to save my par.

Hole #18 - Par 5 - 484 Yards

I've started looking at par 5 holes as birdie opportunities instead of holes where I can blow-up... which is what made this such a disappointing hole for me.  I hit a decent tee shot, but the breeze pushed it right and it caught the fairway bunker.  I hit an extremely heavy 6 iron from there that didn't advance very far.  From that position, I had no shot at the green, so I laid back with a 5 iron to keep it short of the creek fronting the green.  I was left with about 50 yards and hit a solid, but pulled lob wedge to about 27 feet.  I had my first real putting troubles from there as I missed the first putt by about 6 feet and was unable to make that for bogey, so I took an ugly double on a fairly simple hole.  That put me at +4 through my first 5 holes, which was my target going into the round.

Hole #1 - Par 5 - 486 Yards

Another par 5 into the wind.  On the tee, I wanted to make a good swing and just put myself in position to lay up to a good number.  Although I hit it well, the ball drifted right on me and finished in the rough.  I was able to punch a 4 iron below the tree and run it up to leave me about 130 yards.  My 9 iron was directly on line but I caught it just a little heavy.  It found the green but I was about 40 feet from the hole.  A really solid two-putt from there gave me a par.
Hole #2 - Par 4 - 332 Yards

Of all the tee shots I hit with a 4 iron on this day... the one from this tee box was the worst.  I pushed it right and it found the rough and left me with some tree trouble.  The lie was good in the rough and I had only 1 overhanging limb to contend with so I took aim at a tree beyond the green well to the left of the flag and played for a fade with an 8 iron.  I executed the shot perfectly and watched as the ball drifted towards the pin.  Ultimately, it settled just over 20 feet from the hole.  I missed that putt, leaving me a 4 footer... but I yanked that and had to tap in for a disappointing bogey.

Hole #3 - Par 4 - 330 Yards

A solid 4 iron from this tee left me no more than 130 to the hole.  It was into the breeze still, so I choked down on an 8 iron and hit it just to the right of the flag, but a little shy.  From 16 feet, I blasted my putt and watched it roll 7 feet beyond the hole.  I couldn't make the curler coming back for par and settled for a second consecutive three-putt bogey.  I was now +6 through 8 holes on the day.

Hole #4 - Par 4 - 334 Yards

I took a very aggressive line with my driver over some trees on the corner of the dogleg (which turned to the right).  This put me in perfect position and left me 94 yards to the hole.  Unfortunately, that put me between clubs.  My sand wedge from that position would have been too much, but a lob wedge wouldn't have been enough.  This led to a three-quarter swing with my sand wedge and the ball ended up on the front of the green, almost 50 feet shy of the hole.  I hit an awesome putt from there that peeked in the left side of the cup but didn't drop.  That left me a tap-in from about a foot for par.

Hole #5 - Par 3 - 158 Yards

I hit a choked-down 7 iron on this hole that started at the right side of the green, but the wind pushed it a little too far to the right.  The ball caught the fringe and then trickled down into the bunker on that side.  I hit a fairly decent shot from there, but the ball ran out to about 18 feet beyond the hole.  I hit the second-best putt of the day (the best is coming up) and it rolled into the center of the cup for an up & down out of the trap for par.

Hole #6 - Par 4 - 352 Yards

Another shot hole with the wind at our backs... another 4 iron off the tee.  Even though I caught it a little off the toe, I found the fairway and left myself about 155 to the hole.  I knew I'd rather be short than long, so I took an 8 iron from that position instead of a choked-down 7 iron.  I caught it perfectly and the ball carried just beyond the hole, hopped once and stopped.  From 20 feet, I had the ball perfectly on line, but it stopped trickling just shy of the hole, so I had a tap-in for a 3rd straight par and I was just +6 through the first 11 holes.

Hole #7 - Par 3 - 137 Yards

This tee shot was nearly an identical distance as the 8 iron I hit off the previous fairway, so I used the same club from this tee.  I didn't catch it quite as solidly and I started it a little right, but it caught the green.  I had over 40 feet left, and coming up the slope, I left it about 6 feet shy.  I was unable to make that putt and had to settle for a tap in bogey to move me to +7 with only 6 holes to play.

Hole #8 - Par 5 - 473 Yards

I'll be honest.  I stood on this tee feeling great.  I was striking the ball well... I was hitting some good shots around the greens... and my putts (with a few exceptions) were all looking good.  This was a short par 5 that turned to the right.  I just wanted to get the ball around the corner and I figured I could take it up over the trees on the right.  I hit it about 3 yards further to the right than I intended and the ball didn't clear the final tree, nipping a branch and dropping down into the rough.  This left me about 190 to the hole, but out of a really thick lie in the rough.  I figured if I hit it solidly, the ball would run up towards the green.

With the thick lie, my hybrid got slowed down significantly and the ball only ran about 160 yards.  I then turned what should have been a fairly simple 30 yard pitch into a disaster.  I caught the ball off the hosel of my lob wedge, which pushed it into a horrible lie on a downslope of a bunker.  I thinned that into the lip and it fell back into a horrible position.  I barely escaped from there and got it onto the green.  I was left with a putt from about 30 feet for a bogey.  I didn't come close and made the 4 footer for a double.  I was now +9 with 5 holes left in my round.

Hole #9 - Par 4 - 348 Yards

There was trouble on both sides of this hole, so putting the tee shot in play was my focus.  A 4 iron that I caught slightly heavy found the fairway and left me about 160 to the hole.  It should have been a perfect 7 iron distance, but I caught that heavy as well and left it in the fairway short of the green.  I didn't want to have a rehash of the previous hole, so instead of opening the face up on my lob wedge, I tried to play a lower pitch shot.  It carried a little deep onto the green and left me with a tough putt above the hole.  I really couldn't figure out if the ball was going to turn right off the slope or turn left.  Luckily, a playing competitor left his ball a few feet further away than I did on a similar line.  I watched his putt break slightly left, which gave me a good idea of what mine would do.  From 16 feet on exceptionally fast greens... down the hill... I hit a perfect putt and watched as it rolled into the heart of the cup to save my par!

** NOTE - When we tallied up the scores for the front side, I had posted a 41.  Because I was in my own little zone, I hadn't been paying much attention to what my playing competitors had been doing.  One of them had posted a 40.  This kinda of took me by surprise because what I had remembered of how he had been playing, it seemed to be much worse than that.  When I looked at the scorecard, I realized his poor holes were early on and while we were playing up the finishing holes on the back side.  In looking at everything, I was going into the final 4 holes with a 2 stroke lead on him.  

Hole #10 - Par 4 - 334 Yards

I made my poorest decision of the round on this hole.  It was a short hole and there was no need for me to hit a driver.  Still, when I got to the tee and I looked down the fairway, it appeared wide open... especially on the right side.  The left side had some thick tree trouble, and if you went too far left, there was some OB... but overall, it appeared to be a hole I could get aggressive on.

I aimed up the right side of the hole, over a bunker that I needed about 200 yards to carry.  I then took an aggressive swing and pulled the ball.  I watched as it cleared the bunker up the left side, and then disappeared into the darkness of the trees.  I hit a provisional, which I bailed on and pushed way right.  I was nervous driving up to find my ball, but luckily my playing competitor spotted it up in some wood chips.  I was left with no clear path to the green.  My only real shot was a low punch that would run up onto the green.  I tried that with a 4 iron, and I thought I had executed it perfectly.  Sadly, it caught one last tuft of rough and killed it, leaving it 50 yards short in the fairway.  I hit a really good shot from there to about 9 feet, but I misread the putt and had to settle for a bogey.  I was now +10 with just 3 holes to go.

Hole #11 - Par 5 - 480 Yards

From this tee, I hit my best drive of the day.  It was a rope that finished in the middle of the fairway.  With some trouble left, I didn't want to get too aggressive.  I had about 223 yards to the hole, but if I mishit my 3 wood... it could have gone OB left.  Instead, I took my hybrid and figured if I didn't get to the green, I'd leave myself a fairly simple pitch.  I tugged it just slightly and the ball ended up short of the left-side bunker.  This left a fairly simple pitch which I managed to get to about 7 feet... and then I converted that for my first birdie of the day!  

Hole #12 - Par 3 - 129 Yards

This is a super short par 3 that plays entirely down hill.  I had measured it at about 115 yards to the flag, and it was playing about a club downhill.  Still, I didn't want to be short, so I played a pitching wedge.  I caught it VERY heavy and I ended up directly on line with the flag, but short and in the fairway.  I hit what I thought was a good pitch to about 6 feet.  It was a quick little putt that I could have sworn was going to turn left but somehow, it turned right and stayed on the lip.  I tapped in for an unexpected bogey.

Hole #13 - Par 4 - 369 Yards

Heading back into the wind and being uphill, I knew I couldn't use my 4 iron off this tee.  I opted to take a slow, easy swing with my driver and just try and get the ball in the fairway.  I managed to do that, but it was a short shot, measuring only 204 yards and leaving me about 162 yards up the hill to the hole.  I hit a solid 6 iron which finished just off the right side of the green.  A chip which I thought was going to settle next to the cup (and nearly went in) ended up running 12 feet beyond the hole.  My putt for par was nearly perfect but died off to the left at the last instant and I had to settle for a tap-in bogey to end my round.

** NOTE - After posting a strong 41 on the front, I posted an almost as strong 42 on the back to total 83 for the day.  I had a bad feeling in my gut that the missed putts on 12 and 13 may haunt me.  When we got back to the scoring area, none of the scores were posted yet.  While speaking with a few others from the club, it appeared that my 83 was leading.  In the end, it was good enough, by a single stroke, to hold on and win!  This was my second tournament victory of the year and I've now finished 2nd, 4th and 1st in my last 3 tournament events.
Round Stats

  • Score - 83
  • Penalty Strokes - 0
  • Putts - 36
  • Fairways - 7 of 14
  • Greens in Regulation - 8 of 18
  • Up and Downs - 3 of 9
  • Sand Saves - 1 of 2

There's a quick turnaround on this one as the next tournament is just 1 week after.  We're playing a course I REALLY enjoy and I'm very much looking forward to it... and hoping that my solid play over the last month or so will carry over and mean another finish in the money.

Until the next time...


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Charlotte Area Golfweek Amateur Tour Major Tournament Review - 7/30/16 & 7/31/16 - Player's Championship (Multiple Courses)

Scorecard and Game Golf Links Below

So close... yet so far.  That was the quick, single sentence summary of this past weekend.  The Charlotte Area Golfweek Amateur Tour held their 3rd major of the season, the Player's Championship, during the final weekend of July at 2 of the courses we've had a chance to play on earlier in the year.

First up on Saturday was Cowan's Ford Country Club in Stanley, NC.  This is in the top 5 of my favorite courses that we play and every time we go there, I like it more and more.  The layout is challenging, yet fair... and it reminds me of the courses I played for years in New Jersey.

The final round, played on Sunday, was at Carolina Lakes Golf Club in Indian Land, SC.  Of all the courses we play throughout the season, this is one of the closest to my house, which makes for a nice, short drive to the course.  I find this to be a more difficult track because of the need to lay up from the tee on certain holes, but... it's still a nice course that provides a very good test.

As with the other major reviews, I won't do a hole-by-hole breakdown.  Instead, I'll list some highlights and some lowlights along with a bit of commentary mixed in here and there.  Those are below for you to peruse at your leisure.

Round 1 - Cowan's Ford Country Club

Day 1644565554445245476464387

Round 2 - Carolina Lakes Golf Club

Day 2565365375455436573654489

I had been looking forward to this weekend for awhile now.  A group of us had decided that on Saturday evening, after the first round, we'd all head out to dinner with our wives and girlfriends, so... on top of the golf, I was looking forward to an enjoyable evening as well.  Friday night, I found it tough to sleep.  I had been playing pretty well in recent events and I felt like, if I could post a good round on Saturday, I'd have a pretty decent shot at possibly taking home the trophy.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, WAY earlier than I intended to, I got myself ready, packed up the truck and headed out.  I arrived about 2 hours early to the course so I'd have plenty of time to warm up.  Unfortunately, they had closed down the short game area as the green was struggling, so... I was relegated to hitting some balls and then putting.  I spent about 30 minutes in the clubhouse joking with some friends and then, about 15 minutes before our tee time, I headed back out to loosen up again.  Finally... it was time to go, so we loaded up and headed out.

Round 1 Highlights

- Right off the bat, I had a highlight and then a pair of lowlights.  The highlight was my opening tee shot, which I murdered right down the middle.  Game Golf measured it at 287 yards, but I'm pretty sure it was over 300 yards as I believe it was tagged in the wrong spot on the tee.  Either way, it was a hammered drive and it was a nice way to start out my round.  Now... see the lowlights for details on how that hole ended up.

- On the 18th hole (my 4th hole), I hit a very good tee shot with my 4 iron then hit another great 4 iron up into the fairway.  Unfortunately, I hit a poor approach as I caught it a little heavy.  This put me in a bunker about 40 yards away.  I hit what I thought was a really good shot from the trap, but it ended up in the trap at the back of the green.  This left me short-sided to a hole on a green that was running away from me.  I played a nearly perfect shot from there to less than 2 feet and saved a bogey.  One of my playing competitors called it a 'professional' sand shot, which felt pretty good to hear.

- After a sketchy tee shot on the 4th hole, I hit a weak little wedge that faded on me and ended up on the edge of a greenside bunker.  I didn't have much of a shot, but I managed to hit a decent shot right at the pin.  It caught the stick on the fly about 3/4 of the way up and that knocked it down and to the left.  This left me just off the green.  If I didn't hit that pin, I probably would have been 30 yards away over the green.  I managed to save a bogey from that position.  So, a little bit of a lucky 'highlight' there for me.

- Following a stretch of poorly played holes, I finally got things together on #9 by making a par with a nearly perfectly played hole.  The drive was perfect.  The approach was played very well and then I made a good two-putt from 32 feet for par.  This really set the tone for the remaining 5 holes of my round after that as I played #9 through #14 in par - bogey - birdie - par - bogey - par.

- The highlight of the entire weekend came from me on #11.  After hitting a solid hybrid that faded off to the right and kicked off the slope to the right of the green, I was left short-sided and about 6 feet below the level of the hole.  Luckily, the ball was sitting up in the rough a little and that allowed me to feel confident in playing a flop shot.  I opened the face of my lob wedge and took a pretty big swing, popping the ball straight up in the air and on line with the flag.  The ball landed about 3 feet in front of the hole, hopped up and hit the flag stick (second one I hit in that round) and rode the pin down into the hole for a birdie!

    Round 1 Lowlights

    - So, after my opening drive, I was left with about 211 yards to the hole.  There is a hazard that crosses directly in front of the green, but I figured that as long as I hit it solidly, I'd be able to get there with a hybrid.  Unfortunately, I pushed it WAY right.  So far right, in fact, that it hit the trees and got a fortuitous kick back into play.  The ball landed in the rough shy of the hazard.  From there, I took a VERY poor swing and the ball dropped directly into the hazard.  After a drop, I put the ball on the green, but after a great drive... I settled for a double bogey to open the tournament.  

    - Things didn't get much better on the next hole (#16) as I pushed another drive to the right.  It hit a tree and dropped down but left me blocked out from going for the green.  I still tried to hit a punched 6 iron, but I topped it.  I got to the green with my 3rd shot, but absolutely blasted my first putt WAY beyond the hole.  This led to a three-putt and a second consecutive double bogey to start.

    - On holes 5, 6 and 7, I ended up with back-to-back-to-back three-putts.  My putting just kind of 'left' me on those holes after hitting 5 and 6 in regulation and getting on #7 from the greenside bunker.  The putts were from 31 feet on #5, 22 feet on #6 and 48 feet on #7.  At that point, I was truthfully getting a little aggravated with myself and needed to figure out what I was doing wrong.

      Round 1 Recap

      After beginning with back-to-back double bogeys, I did a good job playing the remaining 16 holes in +11.  If it weren't for a few issues with putting in the middle portion of my round, I probably would have been able to post a REALLY solid round.  Still, as it stood... I finished with a good score of 87 which put me in a tie for 2nd place and only 1 stroke behind the leader.

      Although I was very happy to have posted such a good score... I knew there was still work to be done and it was going to come at a course where I had historically not played very well.

      My wife and I went out that night with a handful of other couples from the club and had a really great evening.  By the time we got home, it was about midnight.  I was really hoping that I'd fall asleep easily, but I kind of figured that I would struggle to sleep.  I was correct.  Trying to sleep while thinking of what I needed to do in the round the next day proved to be extremely difficult and I got about 4 hours of sleep total before I woke up the next morning.  

      Round 1 Stats

      • Score - 87
      • Penalty Strokes - 1
      • Putts - 36
      • Fairways - 6 of 14
      • Greens in Regulation - 6 of 18
      • Up and Downs - 2 of 9
      • Sand Saves - 0 of 4

      Typically, I come into the second day of the 2 day majors with no shot.  I had played in 7 of them previously, and in each case, I was at least 6 strokes behind the leader to start the second round.  It was a totally different kind of feeling being within 1 of the leader and, while I kept myself loose and had fun during my warm-up session that morning... there was still pressure.  I had a bunch of people wishing me luck and telling me to bring it home, which felt good and gave me a confidence boost.  Still... arriving 2.5 hours early was probably not the greatest idea I ever had.

      At just before 1pm... we headed out and were ready to go.

      Round 2 Highlights

      - After a poor start (bogey - bogey - triple), I came to a hole I do not get along with very well.  It's a par 3 over a marshy pond with a huge bunker in front.  After watching all 3 of my playing competitors end up in that bunker, I hit a really nice 7 iron to about 12 feet.  I just missed the birdie putt, letting it die off to the low side of the hole, but it left me a tap-in par while the leader (at that point) made a triple bogey.

      - Unfortunately (as you'll see below), I was in a position where I really could not win with 4 holes left to play.  I was relegated to playing for  what I was hoping was 2nd place at that point.  Heading into the final 4 holes, I was 4 strokes behind the guy in 2nd place.  On the 9th hole, he made an extremely unlikely par while I had to settle for a bogey.  That put him 5 up with 3 hole to go.  On #10, I made a bogey while he made a double, which put me back to 4 down with just 2 to play.  On #11, I made par and he botched the hole from a greenside trap.  This meant that I was just 1 down with 1 final hole to go.  From the final tee (a par 3), I hit a really solid shot to the front of the green, leaving myself about 15 feet.  He hit a shot long and left and ended up on a cart path.  Somehow, he made a miraculous shot from where he was to about 4 feet, meaning I essentially had to make mine.  I was unable to make it and settled for a tap-in par.  He made his 4 footer and he ended up besting me by 1 stroke.

        Round 2 Lowlights

        - Things didn't go well right off the bat.  My opening tee shot was a topped and dribbled up into the rough on a fairly lengthy par 5.  I managed to recover nicely and salvaged only a bogey, but it wasn't the start I needed to instill confidence in myself... that's for sure!

        - After opening up bogey - bogey... I came to a short par 4 with trouble down the right side.  I wanted to be aggressive, but there was no need to be.  I SHOULD have just hit a 4 iron up into the left side of the fairway and then left myself a 7 iron or less into the green.  Instead, I pulled out my driver and blew 2 consecutive tee shots into the pond on the right side.  The first was so far right that it crossed the margin of the hazard almost immediately.  The second was up enough where I could have dropped, but I elected to just take my triple bogey (club maximum) and move on.  This put me at +5 through just 3 holes.

        - On hole #2, which was my 8th hole of the day, I hit a good drive which left me about 103 yards to the flag.  In my head, I was screaming to not pull it into the really deep bunker fronting the green.  Instead, I pushed the club out to the right on the downswing and hit a complete shank.  I thought it was going to get hung up in the rough on the right side, but it hit hard enough that it just skipped out of bounds.  This ultimately led to a double bogey.

        - On the 5th hole, I hit a really quick, really poor snap hook into the trees on the left.  We found my ball, but I had barely any room to advance it.  I did my best to punch it out and managed to get it out into the rough along the left side.  From there, I couldn't go for the green, so I was forced to lay up short of the hazard crossing the fairway.  By the time I holed out, it was another double bogey.  The worst part about this is that it was sandwiched between 4 pars.

        - The killer for the day came on the 8th hole.  I had drawn to within 3 shots of the leader with 5 holes to play and I knew that both the leader and the guy in 2nd place were feeling the pressure.  From the 8th tee, I hit a bit of a pull.  It was absolutely smashed, but a little left.  One of my playing competitors hit a similar shot that was a little further left.  When we got up into the rough along the left side, we found his ball with ease.  Mine, however, was nowhere to be seen.  We spent the 5 minutes allowed searching for it but found nothing.  I was forced to go back to the tee and hit another ball.  I destroyed it and left myself about 45 yards to the hole.  Because I was so angry and distracted about not finding my first ball, I was having an argument with myself in my own head.  I hit a wedge long and very left which put me 47 feet from the hole.  A killer three-putt meant I took a triple bogey and my chances were done.

          Round 2 Recap

          Looking back, the poor decision to hit driver on the 15th hole (my 3rd of the day) was one that will haunt me for awhile.  There was zero need for it at that point and I gave myself an almost impossible hill to climb.  By the time I hit the disappearing tee shot on the 8th hole, I was to a point where I needed to make a birdie to draw myself closer to the leader.  Considering my birdie percentage is ridiculously low (2.5%)... that wasn't a good probability.

          I'll learn from this round, if nothing else.  I'm just hoping that I have another shot in the final major of the season in September.

          Round 2 Stats

          • Score - 89
          • Penalty Strokes - 4
          • Putts - 35
          • Fairways - 5 of 14
          • Greens in Regulation - 6 of 18
          • Up and Downs - 2 of 8
          • Sand Saves - 0 of 2

          Tournament Stats

          • Score - 176
          • Penalty Strokes - 5
          • Putts - 71
          • Fairways - 11 of 28
          • Greens in Regulation - 12 of 36
          • Up and Downs - 4 of 17
          • Sand Saves - 0 of 6

          In the end, I found myself in 4th place as one of the guys in the group ahead of us carded an 85 and leaped me and the other guy.  So, I took home 4th place and a $100 Visa gift card.  While I was happy to have earned a 'money' finish in a major (my 3rd such major finish)... I was disappointed that I ended up 4 strokes behind the winning score.  I look to the 15th hole and the 8th hole as the points where I gave away my shot at winning.  It's helped teach me about what I have to do in the future, but... it still stings a bit.

          Because of a trip to the mountains, I'm going to miss the next tournament... but I will play at least twice (possibly 3 times) between now and the tournament on 8/13.  I'm hoping to continue posting scores in the 80's and picking up points.  Although I've got pretty much no shot at winning the points title for the season, I'll be doing everything I can over the final 4 tournaments of my season.  Still... a 2 week break between this tournament round and the next seems like forever.

          Until then...