Saturday, January 9, 2016

Round Review - 1/9/2016 - Carolina Lakes Golf Club (Indian Land, SC)

After finishing T33 out of 167 C Flight entrants at the National Championship in October... things got busy for me.  Work, travel and the holidays all kept me busy.  Luckily, my wife bought me the Optishot 2 simulator system for Christmas, so... I have been able to take a few swings in my garage over the last few weeks.  This kept me loose... but also got me wondering how it would translate to the course.  

The major issue I had last year was big misses with my driver.  Most of them had me going left, which would almost always put me in trouble because my shot pattern with my irons is a fade and I can not draw the ball with them at all.  So... I was hoping that the Optishot system would help me figure out how to keep the ball away from the left side of the fairway when needed.  

All this led to me contacting some guys from the Charlotte area Amateur Golf Tour to set up a practice round at Carolina Lakes Golf Club, where we will be having our first tournament on February 6th.  We contemplated cancelling the day before when weather looked like it would be an issue... but after closer examination, we determined that we'd be able to get the weather in before any rain started falling.

When I arrived... it was chilly, but nothing horrible.  I went to the range where I immediately realized that the 'fear' I had of striking down on the ball when using the Optishot system was going to be a menace.  I topped almost ever single shot on the range.  When I hit a few balls with the driver, they stayed pretty straight, which was an encouraging sign.

We packed up the carts... arranged a few bets... and away we went.

Hole #1 - Par 4 - 370 Yards

Off this tee, I was stiff and a little concerned with where my shot would go since I only took 3 swings on the range with my driver.  I lined up aimed off the right edge of a fairway bunker down the left side.  I tugged it about 5 yards left of that target and the ball just stayed there, right at the bunker.  Luckily, it was so cold and I was so stiff that the ball didn't reach the trap.  I had about 165 to go and the pin was tucked behind a bunker on the right side of the green.  I wanted to avoid that, so I was playing the ball well left.  I topped it... badly.  Luckily, it made it over the bunker, but... it left me about 105 yards to the flag.  I decided to aim slightly left of the pin with a wedge.  I caught it well... but the ball didn't hold the green, just running over.  This left me a fairly each pitch, which I got to within 5 feet.  My bogey putt didn't have the right line, so I settled for a double bogey to open 2016.

Hole #2 - Par 4 - 368 Yards

I don't really like this hole.  From the tee, it looks like there is no room to hit the drive and then it plays to a huge green that can either be very easy or very difficult, depending on the pin position.  My drive was solid, splitting the fairway.  Again, I left myself with a decent length in, about 150 yards.  Because it was cold and we were playing into the breeze, I picked a 6 iron.  I didn't get it there and the ball landed in the bunker.  I had about 40 feet from where I was to the pin, but I blasted the ball well beyond that.  Again, I had a decent pitch from the rough to about 6 feet from the hole... and again, I missed the bogey putt and posted a double bogey.

Hole #3 - Par 5 - 563 Yards

This is very clearly a three-shot hole, even in the warmest and driest of conditions.  I just wanted to get my tee shot somewhere in play, but I struggled with that from this tee.  My tee shot was pushed right and faded a bit on me, ending up to the right of the cart path.  I was in an ugly lie surrounded by some rocks and mud.  I tried to punch the ball back to the fairway, but barely made contact with the ball.  A second attempt saw the ball dribble across the cart path and into the rough.  From there, I hit a very solid hybrid that left me in the fairway about 100 yards from the hole.  My wedge from there was thin and long.  A pair of flubbed chips followed by a putt from off the green to 4 feet (which I made) put me down for a 9 on this hole, which would be adjusted to a triple bogey by club rules.

Hole #4 - Par 3 - 150 Yards

This hole is listed at 150 yards, but with where the pin was, it was playing closer to 115.  My pitching wedge from the tee never left the flag stick and settled just 4 feet to the right of the hole.  For the second consecutive year, the first birdie of my season was made on this hole as I sank the putt.  Last year, in my first round of 2015, I put my ball about 5 feet from the hole and made the putt for a birdie.

Hole #5 - Par 4 - 389 Yards

I hit a solid drive here which found the fairway and left me about 160 yards from the hole.  I had watched one of my playing competitors hit a 5 iron and finish about pin high.  I figured I had enough with a 6 iron, but I found the front of the green and left myself a long attempt at birdie.  My putt from about 48 feet finished well left of the hole, but I was able to make the 8 foot attempt for par.  

Hole #6 - Par 5 - 512 Yards

I was concerned about the creek running across the fairway at about 258 yards from the tee because it was so downhill, but I didn't need to be.  I hit a good drive that ran down a little shy of the creek but left me in the fairway.  A 5 iron from there left me around 93 yards to the flag.  A gap wedge to about 15 feet left of the hole left me with a tricky birdie attempt.  I thought I made it, but at the last second, the ball dove off to the left of the cup and I tapped in for another par.

Hole #7 - Par 3 - 154 Yards

This hole ALWAYS plays longer than the listed yardage.  It was listed at 154, but with the wind and the slope, it was playing more like 175.  I hit a 4 iron that came up short and left of the green.  I putted from there to about 7 feet, but I was unable to convert the par attempt and settled for a tap-in bogey.

Hole #8 - Par 4 - 363 Yards

I pulled my tee shot here and was unable to find the ball.  Because it was a casual round, I decided to just drop a ball near where it had gone missing instead of going back to the tee.  It left me about 140 yards with a tree in my way.  I hit a lowish 7 iron that caught the front-right portion of the green and stuck there.  From 51 feet, I couldn't get any closer than 7 feet... but I was able to make that putt for a 'good' double bogey, considering I had lost my initial tee shot.

Hole #9 - Par 4 - 392 Yards

This hole was playing into a stiff breeze.  When there is no breeze, you can cut the corner and really shorten this hole a lot.  I still took an aggressive line and found the fairway, leaving myself about 105 yards to the hole.  I hit an easy pitching wedge which finished about 9 feet to the left of the hole.  My birdie putt from 9 feet was hit like I was putting from 30 feet, but it slammed into the hole and killed the speed, luckily.  That left me a tap in for par to finish the front side with a score of 46 (which would have been a 45 if I was playing in a club tournament).  

** NOTE - Despite the double - double - triple start... I finished the front side with a +10 score.  This left me feeling pretty good because I did NOT expect to come out and post anything less than 100 for the round, and this gave me some 'wiggle room' for the back side, which I would ultimately need.  

Hole #10 - Par 4 - 396 Yards

This hole kills me.  I can't find the tee shot here unless I'm lucky.  Off this tee, there is TONS of room to the left, but I seem to try and cut the corner up the right side every time.  This time, my ball went into the hazard up the right and didn't return.  After a drop, I punched a 5 iron across the fairway, leaving me about 50 yards to the hole.  I hit a poor shot from there and then pitched on to about 5 feet and then sank that for a double bogey to open up the back nine.

Hole #11 - Par 4 - 290 Yards

This is a fairly benign hole... or at least it should be.  I hit a good drive from the tee to a somewhat tight fairway, which left me around 90 yards to the pin.  My gap wedge was thin and hammered way over the green into the hazard.  From there, it took me an astounding 4 shots to move the ball 15 yards and then 2 putts once on the green before I carded another 9 (adjusted to a 7).  

Hole #12 - Par 3 - 145 Yards

Another hole that shouldn't be too difficult if you carry the mess in front of the green.  After watching everybody else hit, I just wanted to hit the green.  I struck a pure 7 iron that carried about 5 yards too far.  It rolled down the bank back towards the green but got stuck in an ugly lie that left me an awkward downhill chip.  The ball took off from there and ran beyond the cup.  From 10 feet, my par attempt didn't drop, but I tapped in for a bogey.

Hole #13 - Par 5 - 498 Yards

This could be a reachable par 5 with a good enough drive, but it was so cold that there was no way.  Still, I gave it a rip from the tee, but the ball leaked right on me and finished up in the rough.  From there, my only real option was to punch a 4 iron below a tree and back into the fairway.  I was left with about 95 yards to the hole, so I went with a gap wedge.  It was just a few yards too far and the ball finished on the fringe.  I putted from there to about 6 feet.  I was unable to get that to drop and settled for another bogey.

Hole #14 - Par 4 - 373 Yards

I striped my drive from this tee, splitting the fairway and leaving myself about 140 yards, up the hill to the pin.  I elected to go with a 6 iron instead of a 7 iron, and I put a smooth swing on it.  I got the ball to pin high, but it was well left of the pin.  From 36 feet, I lagged my ball to about 5 feet from the hole and dropped that for a par.  

Hole #15 - Par 4 - 341 Yards

It got ugly here before getting uglier on the next hole.  This is one of the easier holes on the course.  If you avoid the hazard down the right side, it's pretty much wide open.  Of course, I blasted my tee shot way right into the hazard.  I elected to hit from the tee again and hit one of my better drives right down the middle.  This left me nothing more than a pitch to the green, which I proceeded to flub.  From there, I pitched the ball to about 5 feet and made that for a double bogey.

Hole #16 - Par 3 - 158 Yards

This hole just got away from me.  We had a good 10 minute wait on the tee, and with the temperatures dropping, I got stiff in a hurry.  My tee shot was right on line, but heavy and ended up in the water.  I didn't know there was a drop zone, so I teed up again and did almost the exact same thing.  At that point, I knew it was going to be a triple bogey anyway, so I just dropped a ball up in the rough as if I had hit from the drop zone to that point.  I chipped to about 14 feet and two-putted for a snowman on a par 3.  All the good things that had happened throughout the round were undone there.

Hole #17 - Par 5 - 472 Yards

This is another hole that, if you can keep it out of trouble off the tee, is an easy hole.  I was determined to stay away from the trouble up the left side... so I pushed my tee shot WAY right.  I missed the fairway, but was able to just punch a 4 iron into the fairway from there.  I had about 130 to the hole.  My 8 iron looked like it was perfect, but it pitched just at the front of the green and rolled down the hill.  I hit a good bump-and-run chip into the hill that settled about 3 feet from the pin, which allowed me to tap in for a par.

Hole #18 - Par 4 - 387 Yards

I've played this hole three times now and I absolutely love it.  It's not your typical finishing hole that punishes you at the end of your round.  It's more of a risk-reward hole where you can be aggressive and try to push your drive up beyond the bunkers for a wedge in, or you can lay back and go at the hole with a 140-160 yard shot.  Since our matches had all been decided by this point, we all decided to just try and hammer a ball.  Mine split the middle and was my furthest of the day.  I had only 105 to the hole.  I topped a wedge so badly that it ran the entire way there, finishing just 8 feet from the hole.  My birdie attempt missed high (which was deserved after such a poor approach shot) and I tapped in for a par to finish my round.  

** NOTE - After a pretty good front side, I came back down to Earth with a few poor holes on the back side.  The 16th hole was ugly, but still... I posted a 52 on that side, which would have been a 48 in an AGT event.  This gave me a 98 total, which would have been posted as a 93.  This is much better than the 102 I posted last year in the first event of the season.  

With a few weeks to go until the first AGT tournament of 2016, I'll continue to work in my garage on my driver and then I'll work on my short game at my local course out here over the next few weeks while I prepare.  

Until next time!

Round Stats

  * Score - 98 (AGT Score of 93)

  * Course Handicap - 19
  * Net Score - 79 (AGT Net Score of 74)
  * Penalty Strokes - 6
  * Putts - 31
  * Fairways - 7 of 14
  * Greens in Regulation - 6 of 18
  * Up and Downs - 1 of 4
  * Sand Saves - 0 of 1

Strokes Gained/Lost Analysis - 1/9/2016

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