Saturday, March 12, 2016

Charlotte Area Golfweek Amateur Tournament - 3/12/2016 - Cowan's Ford Golf Club at Lake Norman (Stanley, NC)

Leading up to this tournament, I was in full-on 'grind' mode.  All I was thinking about was how to post a somewhat respectable score.  I had been embarrassed by my play through the first few tournaments, so I spent a good deal of time on the course and working on some things.  When I arrived in the morning, I was a bit early and one of the first on the range.  I ended up spending a good hour-plus there because the problem I had been battling with shanking my wedges had returned out of the blue.  At one point, I seriously contemplated leaving because I didn't want to embarrass myself any further.

I didn't leave, obviously... but things didn't exactly work out for me as I had hoped, either.  I got a tip shortly before we teed off to put the ball back in my stance to hopefully help and, while it worked in some instances, it wasn't fool-proof and the problem jumped up and bit me at some inopportune times.  Read below for the details.

Hole #16 - Par 4 - 370 Yards

This is not the most difficult of holes, but not necessarily an easy one... so to open on it isn't a fun thing.  Off the tee, you have to play for a fade and hope that you don't clip the tree hanging over the right side.  I hit a passable drive that found the fairway up the left side.  I had about 170 left up the slope to the green so I hit a 5 iron.  It found the green, but was nowhere close to the hole.  From 49 feet away, I needed 3 putts to get down after a horrible attempt on the first putt, so I opened with a bogey.

Hole #17 - Par 3 - 166 Yards

The hole was playing to about 160 yards and slightly downhill, so I elected to go with my 7 iron.  I caught the ball well and sent it a little long and left of the hole.  I wasn't in the greatest position below the level of the green, but I managed to pitch on to about 19 feet.  My putt for par missed a little on the low side so I tapped in for a second consecutive bogey.

Hole #18 - Par 5 - 529 Yards

If this was a few years ago, I would probably have loved to play this hole because it's a dogleg right which would have played nicely to my huge slice at that point.  Now, however, I hit more of a straight ball and it's difficult to 'force' a fade.  If I hit a driver, I would have gone through the fairway, so I tried to play it 'safe' and hit a 4 iron from the tee.  The problem is, I pulled it dead left.  It slammed into a tree and dropped down at the front of the ladies tee box.  I hit an okay 4 iron from there into the right side of the fairway and then another 4 iron which was a little left from there.  I was left with about 110 yards from the rough.  I hit a pitching wedge really well, but it hit a tree branch and knocked it down.  A gap wedge from there was a little deep.  I chipped on to about 9 feet and made the putt for a double bogey.

Hole #1 - Par 5 - 475 Yards

I really enjoy this hole, especially when it's playing downwind.  I hit a drive that I thought was really solid, but it didn't get very far out there.  I still had a long way to go, so I decided to play safe and lay up with a 5 iron.  I did that and left myself in the fairway with a half wedge shot.  I went a little long and left from there and then hit a poor pitch to about 22 feet.  I couldn't convert the par attempt but made the 2 footer coming back for a bogey.

Hole #2 - Par 4 - 358 Yards

This hole is listed as the #1 handicap hole.  It's a tight drive with a bunker up the right side, but I hit a good one here that finished in the middle of the fairway just a little beyond the bunker.  That left me with about 110 yards slightly up the hill.  My approach wedge was on line but short.  I chipped up to about 14 feet and then three-putted for an uglier than it had to be double bogey.

Hole #3 - Par 3 - 168 Yards

I kinda hate this hole.  It should not be a difficult hole because it's not a long shot from the tee, but I always seem to struggle with it.  I hit a very solid 6 iron from this tee that finished pin high but left of the green.  I hit a poor chip that I fluffed and then had to chip again.  I overcompensated and hit it 33 feet past the hole.  I was able to lag that putt up close and tap in for a double bogey.

Hole #4 - Par 4 - 338 Yards

There is so much room to the left that there is absolutely no reason to go right... except I did just that.  My tee shot disappeared over some bushes and out of bounds.  My provisional was hammered and found the middle of the fairway, leaving me 58 yards to the hole.  My sand wedge was on, but about 25 feet away.  I hit another good lag putt to about 2 feet and tapped in for a double bogey that should have been a par.  I was now getting frustrated because I didn't think I was playing that poorly, but I definitely wasn't scoring.

Hole #5 - Par 5 - 502 Yards

I was burning up inside on this tee and tried to kill one.  It floated a bit right on me and ended up in the pine straw up the right side.  I hit a very solid, very high 7 iron over and around a pine tree in front of me and back into the fairway, leaving myself about 103 yards to the hole.  I thought I was closer than that and I had grabbed a gap wedge and my putter and told my cart partner to drive up.  I tried to deloft the club a bit, but I still came up just short of the green.  I hit a chip that was almost perfect but caught a little tuft of grass on the fringe that killed it.  I was 24 feet away and I managed to three-putt from there for a fourth straight double bogey.

Hole #6 - Par 4 - 353 Yards

I absolutely obliterated my tee shot from this tee.  It took off with a piercing flight and settled 286 yards away in the right rough.  I had an open shot to the green from where I was, only about 95 yards from the hole.  Here is where the issue I spoke about earlier would creep up and bite me.  From that position, I cold shanked one to the right and out of bounds.  I dropped and proceeded to do almost the same exact thing, but this one stayed in.  I punched out of trouble to short of the green, chipped on to 8 feet and took 2 putts from there to post a quadruple bogey that would be revised to a triple due to club rules.

Hole #7 - Par 3 - 141 Yards

It was playing longer than the 141 listed and into the wind, so I hit a smooth 6 iron that looked to be perfect.  It turned out to be 2 feet from perfect, but instead, hit into the bank and rolled down to the bottom of the hill leaving a very tough pitch back up to the green.  It took 2 shots to get it up there and then I wasn't able to convert a 6 footer for bogey, so I tapped in for a double bogey.  

Hole #8 - Par 4 - 356 Yards

I was beginning to wish I had decided to go home before the round started.  On this hole, I hit another passable drive that left me about 115 to the hole.  I settled on a smooth 9 iron, but I pushed it right and into the sand trap at the front of the green.  I blasted way over the green from there into the woods and took 2 shots to get it onto the green.  From 39 feet, all I could do was lag it up and I was left with a 4 foot attempt for triple bogey, which I made.

Hole #9 - Par 4 - 281 Yards

Things started to settle down on this hole for me, and with a few exceptions, I played pretty decent golf the rest of the way in.  My drive here was a good one that hung out a little to the right and finished in the rough.  I had about 150 to the flag out of a good lie.  I hit a 7 iron that took the exact flight I wanted.  It hit the green and settled 13 feet from the hole.  My birdie attempt didn't really scare the hole, but I was left with a tap in for my first par of the day.

** NOTE - There were a lot of holes on the front side that I felt were a lot better than they turned out to be.  I struggled to a 53 on that side so I knew I wasn't going to finish anywhere near the money, but I wanted to have a strong finish to at least turn in something respectable, so I headed to my last 6 holes focused on that.

Hole #10 - Par 4 - 407 Yards

This hole is uphill from the tee and then downhill from the crown of the fairway.  I annihilated a ball from the tee that followed the line of the fairway and rough up the right side.  When we got to where most of the tee shots had settled, we didn't see my ball.  At the bottom of the hill in the flat area, I spotted something shining and when I went to check it out, it was my ball.  It was a 324 yard drive which found the fairway and left me about 68 yards to the flag.  As I stood over the ball with my sand wedge, the thought of shanking the ball crept into my head... but I made a good swing and the ball landed on the green about 24 feet left of the hole.  I gave it a good run, but the putt didn't drop.  I tapped in for a second straight par. 

Hole #11 - Par 3 - 189 Yards

This is a bit of a longer par 3, but it wasn't playing all that tough since we had a bit of help from the wind.  I hit a good, solid 5 iron that finished behind the hole.  From 33 feet, I wanted to make the putt, but it missed just on the low side and left me a tap in for a third consecutive par.

Hole #12 - Par 4 - 356 Yards

This is an easy little hole if played correctly.  From the tee, I hit a push fade that finished in the right rough.  I was left with about 115 yards to the hole.  I then had the issue pop up again and I shanked a pitching wedge and then a sand wedge in succession.  I blasted out of the bunker to the fringe and putted from there to about 3 feet.  I cleaned that up for a double bogey.

Hole #13 - Par 4 - 325 Yards

From the tee, you can't really hit anything but an iron or you bring trouble into play.  There is a creek that runs down the left side and then crossed over the fairway... and then up by the green, there is a pond off to the right.  I hit a solid 4 iron into the left side of the fairway that left me 130 to the pin.  My 9 iron was slightly pulled, but finished pin high.  I chipped from there to 11 feet, but my par attempt wouldn't drop, so I tapped in for a bogey.

Hole #14 - Par 4 - 327 Yards

Another hole that should have been easier than it turned out to be.  I hit a high, pulled draw that finished on the mounds up the left side.  I was left with another 9 iron shot from about 122 out of a thick lie.  Just like the last hole, it was pin high but a little left.  I hit a good bump and run chip that caught a mound and stopped rolling, but I was on the green.  From 13 feet, I finally made a putt and made a par.

Hole #15 - Par 5 - 500 Yards

This hole is a big, downhill par 5.  From the tee, it looks like it's impossible to miss the fairway... but I've done it, so I know I can.  On this day, though, I hammered a driver.  The ball stayed in the air forever and finished 325 yards from the tee.  I was left with 182 to the flag.  I was going back and forth between a 4 iron and a hybrid.  Ultimately, I elected to hit the 4 iron... but I caught it a little heavy.  It ended up hitting the rock wall shy of the green and finishing in the hazard.  Luckily, it was playable.  I hit a sand wedge up over the wall and onto the green.  From 30 feet, my birdie attempt was blasted beyond the hole.  I could not make the 8 foot par attempt and tapped in for a bogey.

** NOTE - The back side was much better than the front for me.  I had posted a 44 there with some solid play to close out the round.  I wasn't happy with my overall score, but I proved to myself that I still had the ability to play at least something that slightly resembled golf.  The winning score was 11 strokes better than mine, but I managed to stay out of triple digits and out of last place.

There's a 2 week break until the next tournament, and then we play in back-to-back weeks before I go on vacation.  I hope to get out to the course a few times between now and then to work on some things, but first and foremost... I need to work on getting my confidence back with my wedges.

Until next time!

Round Stats

  * Score - 98 (AGT Score of 97)

  * Course Handicap - 20
  * Net Score - 78 (AGT Net Score of 77)
  * Penalty Strokes - 2
  * Putts - 37
  * Fairways - 7 of 14
  * Greens in Regulation - 5 of 18
  * Up and Downs - 1 of 6
  * Sand Saves - 0 of 2

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