Saturday, September 19, 2015

Tournament Review - 9/19/2015 - Palisades Country Club (Charlotte, NC)

Over the last 5 weeks, I've played more golf than in any 5 week period over the last few years.  It's given me an opportunity to figure some things out about my swing, and I had hopes that it was going to translate to lower scores on the course.  I came into this tournament, which is the next-to-last tournament on the Golfweek Amateur Tour Charlotte schedule for the 2015 season, knowing I needed to place fairly high in those last 2 tournaments to secure a spot in the National Championship at Hilton Head in October.  I got out for a practice round on this course a few weeks prior with some mixed results, so... although I was feeling okay, I wasn't sure what to expect.  

My goal was to shoot between and 86 and an 88, figuring that'd allow me to finish 'in the money'... but I wasn't really sure where the scores would be since they kind of varied from year to year at this track.
Anyway... my results, hole-by-hole, are below.

Game Golf Link


Hole #16 - Par 4 - 390 Yards

When I had played this course for my practice round, I started on the 1st hole... but because this was a shotgun tournament, I knew I'd be starting somewhere in the last 5 or 6 holes.  I got to start on 16, which was not the easiest hole to start on, but also not the most difficult.  My tee shot was absolutely smashed, but left of my intended target.  It caught the hill on the left side and kicked it a little further left, but it was open on that side, and I finished up in the rough on the other side of the cart path.  Luckily, it left me at least some kind of a shot to the green and I was able to sneak an 8 iron from about 145 yards onto the front portion of the green.  It left me a long putt of about 36 feet, which I left almost 9 feet short... and I three-putted to open with a bogey.

Hole #17 - Par 4 - 360 Yards

Too often, I let comments from playing competitors get in my head.  I did that on this hole.  One of my playing competitors mentioned on this tee that the fairway ran out at about 250 yards, plus it was playing downhill... and even though I hit driver when I played here during my practice round, it made me second guess myself.  I still hit driver (primarily because I have zero faith in my 3 wood off the tee)... but I took an easy swing.  Typically when I do that, I tend to push and/or fade the ball.  On this one, I did both and the ball clicked around in the trees.  My provisional split the fairway, but we found my original up in the woods, and I had a shot to punch out.  I thought I hit a good shot, but it got caught up in the rough on a bank up the right side.  This left me an awkward stance, and I hit a very fat approach wedge.  From there, I pitched up, but the ball got caught in the fringe... leaving me a putter onto the green and a tap in from 3 feet for a double bogey.

Hole #18 - Par 4 - 422 Yards

I had EVERY intention of playing this hole as a par 5 because there was trouble short of the green, and I knew that unless I bombed my drive, I'd have a long iron or hybrid into the green.  My drive here started right and faded a little bit, finding the primary rough up the right side.  It left me with somewhere around 207 yards to the pin.  My stance wasn't horrible, and I was feeling confident, so I decided to try and hit my hybrid up there onto the green.  I made a poor choice, and an even poorer swing.  Luckily, it didn't hurt me as my ball stayed short of the hazard fronting the green.  It was a bit of a thin lie, but I was able to pitch onto the green to about 12 feet.  My par attempt nipped the edge, but didn't fall... so I tapped in for a bogey.

Hole #1 - Par 4 - 362 Yards

Up to this point, I hadn't found a fairway yet.  As I stood on this tee, I tried to focus on my spot in the fairway and I hit what I felt was a great drive.  I thought I had crushed it, but when we got up to the balls... mine was the shortest.  Game Golf measured it at 237 yards, so it wasn't short, but... it wasn't as solid as I had thought it was when I hit it.  Still... I was in the fairway, and I only had about 130 or so to go... but the wind was in my face a bit, so I decided an easy 8 iron would get me there.  I hit the ball well, but this time, my arms got out ahead of me and I pulled it... badly.  Luckily, I got a kick off the trees into the middle of the fairway just short of the green.  I pitched up to 5 feet, but I couldn't capitalize on my luck as I pulled the putt, so I settled for a bogey.

Hole #2 - Par 4 - 408 Yards

When I got to this tee, I could have sworn it was the 3rd hole, and it was a par 5.  As it turns out, I hit a really good drive that split the fairway, but when we got to the ball... I realized it was only the 2nd hole and it was a par 4.  I was left with about 145 to the pin, so I again decided on the 8 iron.  I smoked this one and watched as it hit all the way at the back of the green, leaving me 39 feet for my birdie attempt.  I somehow managed to leave that 6 feet short, even coming down the hill, but I was able to make the 6 footer for my par.

Hole #3 - Par 5 - 531 Yards

I have a horrible habit of stepping up to tees on par 5 holes and wanting to kill the ball.  I took a big swing at the ball here and pulled it left.  I thought I saw it come down, but I wasn't sure, so I hit a provisional, and it went in the same direction, a little further, and hit a house.  Luckily, as we went to my cart partners ball, the other guy in our group spotted my ball just on the outside of the trees.  I didn't have a full swing, but I was able to punch a 4 iron a good distance down the fairway, leaving me about 185 to the hole.  My 5 iron leaked badly to the right on me, but stayed in play.  My pitch from the rough left me about 24 feet for my par attempt, which I wasn't able to sink, so I tapped in from 4 feet for a bogey.

Hole #4 - Par 3 - 164 Yards

The pin on this hole was on a tiny tier in the back-right corner of the green, tucked behind a bunker and not far off from the woods along the right side of the hole.  It was, in no way, a 'green light' pin.  My target was the fan at the back of the green.  I hit it just left of where I was aiming, and a little deep.  I should have putted from where I was, but because of the amount of fringe I was going to need to go through, I figured a chip was a better option.  It wasn't.  I bladed that and watched it run over the green into the rough.  The chip back was a tough one, but I managed to get it to about 5 feet.... and yanked another one from that distance, settling for a double bogey.

Hole #5 - Par 4 - 322 Yards

I really like this hole.  In the middle of the fairway, right at the landing zone, is a little bunker.  If you hit to the right of it, you'll kick into the rough.  If you hit to the left of it and/or carry it directly over the bunker, you'll get a good deal of run-out towards the green.  I hit a good drive that carried over the bunker, just to the left and ran down to about 50 yards short of the pin.  I then chunked my pitch from there (which is typically my wheelhouse).  It left me about 15 yards or so from the pin, and I elected to putt because my last 2 attempts with my wedge weren't so hot.  I got it to a foot and tapped in for par.

Hole #6 - Par 5 - 496 Yards

My problems from the tee really started to show here.  Another par 5, another 'swing out of my shoes' mistake.  I pulled this one left and into the hazard running down the left side of the hole.  I dropped and punched a 4 iron back into the fairway, leaving me about 105 yards to the hole.  I hit what I thought was going to be a perfect wedge from there, but it clipped a branch on an overhanging tree and knocked it down, landing just on the front of the green.  It left me 34 feet for my par attempt, which never got close, but I made the 3 footer for bogey.

Hole #7 - Par 4 - 346 Yards

The number 1 handicap hole here... and I didn't even get to play it.  My drive was right and stayed there.  My provisional was an overcompensating swing that I pulled horribly left into a hazard.  When we got to my original tee shot, we found it behind the white stakes, out of bounds.  I picked up on the hole, taking the triple bogey maximum score.  I watched my playing competitors also make a mess of the hole, carding a double and a triple of their own.  So... this hole lived up to its billing as the toughest on the course.

Hole #8 - Par 3 - 167 Yards

When we arrived at this tee, the group ahead of us was still waiting to tee off, so we easily had a 20 minute wait here.  By the time I finally put my tee in the ground, it had been 30 minutes or more since I had swung a club.  I made it look easy though, hitting a 6 iron pin-high and 12 feet left.  My putt broke slightly more than I thought, but I was able to tap in from 2 feet for my par.  

Hole #9 - Par 4 - 385 Yards

Another hole with a bunker in the landing area, but this hole is a little tighter.  I tried to give it something extra to carry that trap, but... as per usual, I yanked it directly into the trees.  I had no clue if it was going to be in play or not, so I hit a provisional that went further left and hit another house.  That was my 2nd house of the day, for those of you keeping count.  Again, one of my playing competitors found the ball, but I had no chance to really advance it.  My only play was to try and punch it out in front of that bunker in the middle of the fairway.  I managed to get it just beyond that, but then I watched it run down the hill into the bunker just off the right side of the fairway.  With the ball well below my feet and about 130 yards to the pin at the back of the green... I decided to take the extra club (8 iron instead of 9 iron) and hit a low, running shot at the left greenside bunker.  I executed it perfectly and watched the ball run to about 6 feet of the hole.  I was able to salvage a par from what appeared to be an almost certain triple bogey off the tee.

  ** NOTE - Despite the triple bogey on the 7th hole, I had posted a 44 for the front side.  I knew I had some tough holes remaining, but I was feeling pretty good about things as we headed to the last 6 holes of the round.

Hole #10 - Par 3 - 164 Yards

I hit an extremely poor 7 iron from the tee here.  It finished pin-high, but in the rough heading down into the bunker at the side of the green.  I had a very awkward stance where my feet were in the bunker and the ball was about mid-thigh.  I held almost down to the metal on the shaft and popped the ball onto the fringe and watched it run 15 feet beyond the hole.  I drained the putt coming back for another unlikely par, and I felt really good at that point.

Hole #11 - Par 4 - 346 Yards

I split the fairway here and left myself about 110 up the hill to the hole.  My pitching wedge was tugged left, because I bailed out from the bunker the pin was behind.  It also went a little deep.  My putt from the fringe ran long, about 13 feet from the hole, and I wasn't able to continue my par streak, but I tapped in from 2 feet for a bogey.

Hole #12 - Par 5 - 502 Yards

I finally made a good swing off the tee on a par 5.  The ball went right where I had aimed and found the fairway.  I had almost 260 yards to the flag, and there was a hazard crossing in front of the green, so trying to get it all the way up there wasn't a good play.  I hit a low, punched 5 iron that left me 85 yards to the pin.  I debated between a flighted gap wedge or a hard sand wedge, and I decided on the sand wedge.  It was the wrong call.  I got very steep and hit it extremely fat... so fat, in fact, that it didn't even reach the hazard.  My pitch from there landed on the green and ran over... and my attempt to chip in for par came up 5 feet short, but I finally made a 5 footer... this time for bogey.

Hole #13 - Par 3 - 183 Yards

Listed at 183... but only playing 157.  The pin was ALL the way at the front and ALL the way to the left.  For me, there was no way to get it really close because my fade would hit the trees.  My play was to start it at the flag and let it work to the right of the hole.  There was a big hill behind the pin that, if the ball landed above, it would make for an impossible putt... so, I decided on the 7 iron (my club from about 155) instead of the 6 iron (my club from 165 to 170) because I didn't want to be long.  Again... wrong choice.  My 7 iron started at the pin and faded... but it faded too much and found the hazard that ran in front of and along the right side of the green.  Luckily, it had crossed the margin in a spot up front where I could drop close to the green, but... still, it was a killer penalty stroke there.  My pitch ran to the left side of the green and I needed 2 putts from 20 feet for a double bogey.

Hole #14 - Par 4 - 414 Yards

Standing on this tee, I knew I needed to finish par - par to shoot an 88.  I figured that was going to be on the high end of the money spots, so I really tried to make pars on my last 2 holes.  Again, because it was a slightly longer hole, I tried to give it some extra off the tee and it didn't work out for me.  I hit a low duck-hook that ran into the trees.  My provisional found the fairway, but we found my original ball deep in the trees.  I had almost nowhere to play this shot.  I had an opening about the size of a small iPad to punch the ball through on the ONLY line I had any kind of a swing on.  I asked my playing competitor to keep an eye on the ball for me, and I punched it out and watched it sail directly through that opening, back into the fairway.  It was pretty miraculous, to be honest.  This left me 185 to the pin... and I hit what I thought was a good 5 iron, but because it was late in the evening and the air was cooling down... it just didn't get there.  My pitch from the fairway fronting the green left me about 12 feet for a bogey.  I then threw away any and all chances (in my mind) of placing in the money by three-putting from there for a crushing triple bogey.

Hole #15 - Par 5 - 483 Yards

If you've been following along, you'll know by now that I try to kill the ball off the tee on a par 5.  I did the same thing here, figuring it was short enough that I MIGHT have a shot at getting on in 2 if I put a good swing on my tee shot, but I blocked it right and into a hazard.  My drop left me 280 or so yards to the middle of the green, and I was in kind of a ticked off mood, so I decided that since my ball kind of sat up in the rough a bit, I'd try and hit my driver off the deck.  I hit probably my best driver of the day, a low, running bullet that finished in the fairway about 50 yards shy of the hole.  My pitch checked up very quickly and from 36 feet, I three-putted again to close out my round with a double bogey.

  ** NOTE - When we added up the scores, I had posted a 93... which was one more than one of my playing competitors (who finished in a tie for 3rd place).  We got back to the scoring area and I realized that if I hadn't three-putted those last 2 greens, I would have finished in 3rd place.  Instead, I finished in 5th place, 4 back of the winner who posted an 89.  I killed my chances by being too aggressive on the last 3 holes.  

Round Stats

  • Score - 94 (Club Adjusted to 93)
  • Penalty Strokes - 5
  • Putts - 34
  • Fairways - 5 of 14
  • Greens in Regulation - 5 of 18
  • nGreens in Regulation - 8 of 18
  • Up and Downs - 3 of 9
  • Sand Saves - 1 of 1

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