Sunday, April 24, 2016

Charlotte Area Golfweek Amateur Tour Major Tournament Review - 4/23/16 & 4/24/16 - Stonebridge Golf Club (Monroe, NC)

Scorecard and Game Golf Links Below

It's always fun when you have something to work towards.  Well, this week was the week leading up to the first major of the year for the Charlotte Area Golfweek Amateur Tour.  The two-day event would be played at Stonebridge Golf Club in Mineral Springs, NC and featured the largest C Flight field I had competed against since I joined the tour last season.  I was extremely excited to get to work and spent 6 out of 7 days during this week on the golf course at some point.  

All that preparation was supposed to have led me to my first victory, a trophy and a paid spot in the National Championship at Hilton Head in October.  Not to spoil the surprise or anything... but it didn't quite work out that way.  First... I played far too poorly to compete.  Secondly... the C Flight was kind of a runaway with the winner ultimately posting the same score that won the B Flight title... 159.  

Anyway... I put in the work and had high expectations.  I spent a good deal of time on the practice green on Saturday morning working on 10 footers, which seem to be my nemesis in most tournaments.  I felt great... and then by the time I teed off at the 16th hole (my first in the shotgun start)... my hopes were gone.  It was a mess from the start.  Despite some good holes and stretches here and there... I basically struggled through 36 holes of my version of golf.

To spare everybody (including myself) the details... I've summarized things below.
Day 111 (8)5466385553 (50)64555410 (7)3547 (44)100 (94)
Day 2673543466448 (7)5357564548 (47)92 (91)

Day 1 was a little windy.  It wasn't awful... especially in comparison to NorthStone a few weeks ago... but it was still windy enough to mess with the ball (and my head).  I began my day on the 16th and finished, obviously, on the 15th.

Round 1 Highlights

- Just as with this tournament last season... I didn't have very many highlights to speak of from the first day.  I made bogey or better on 12 of the 18 holes... totaling +7 on those holes, which means the other 21 strokes over par came on the 6 other holes I played.  I made no birdies... and my 'best' hole was the 14th.  I hit a bomb of a drive just over 300 yards and left myself about 200 yards to the hole.  My 4 iron from the fairway was low and ran up to the right side of the green.  That's where the 'highlight' stops on that hole, however, as I three-putted from 36 feet for a par.  Beyond that... the rest of the round would fall in the 'lowlight' category.  

    Round 1 Lowlights

    - Where do I start?  Oh... I know... how about at the beginning?  On the 16th tee, I pulled my 4 iron that I was playing 'for safety' and it clipped a tree, knocking it down into the hazard.  I was able to play it from there and I hacked a 7 iron back into the fairway.  I was left with about 135 over the pond into the green, and I dumped it into the water.  I dropped at a comfortable yardage and then dumped another into the water.  I ultimately recorded a triple-bogey max on that hole, starting my day and my tournament on a sour note.

    - After settling down with pars on the 17th and 18th holes... I arrived at the 1st hole feeling pretty good.  I proceeded to throw-up all over that hole.  2 balls out of bounds and another lost added up to another triple-bogey maximum score.  I hooked almost every shot I took on this hole and it put me in a really poor frame of mind for awhile and set me on tilt.  

    - I made 2 consecutive double bogeys on the 4th and 5th holes after hitting really good tee shots.  I got unlucky with my tee shot on the 4th and had to punch out... then made a bigger mess of the hole.  On the 5th, I hit a great tee shot... chunked the approach... pitched to about 12 feet... and then three-putted.

    - I made a 'natural' triple bogey on the 7th hole, losing 2 balls in the process.  A tee ball that went out of bounds up the right and then a topped 3 wood into the hazard up the right side before hitting the same exact shot just shy of the green.  Ugly followed by ugly.

    - The final lowlight of the day came on the 10th tee.  I was just starting to feel okay about my game.  I'd hit good tee shots on the 8th and 9th holes... made bogeys... and was looking to pick up some momentum on the 10th hole.  I decided, again, to play it 'safe' and hit a 4 iron from the tee.  My thought process was to keep it away from the water on the right... so I hooked it into the woods and lost the ball.  I then bombed my driver into the fairway and made a double bogey... otherwise known as a second-ball par.

      Round 1 Recap

      Anticipation.  Devastation.  Redemption.  Repetition.  Frustration.  Completion. 

      That about recaps the first round.  By the end of that round, I was 14 strokes behind the leader.  I had posted a 94... and I was 7 strokes behind 4th place, which is the last 'money' spot.  I was in a similar position last year (6 strokes behind the 'money') and came back to tie for 3rd place... so I wasn't entirely without hope, but... I was tied for 19th, so it was going to take a great round and a lot of people falling backwards to make any real progress.  

      Round 1 Stats

      • Score - 100 (Club Adjusted to 94)
      • Penalty Strokes - 8
      • Putts - 34
      • Fairways - 6 of 14
      • Greens in Regulation - 4 of 18
      • Up and Downs - 1 of 7
      • Sand Saves - 1 of 1

      Day 2 began with less anticipation... but I was still looking to post a good score and earn myself some points in the standings.  The group I was with all had a rough start on the first day, but we were all capable of putting together something low and moving ourselves up the leaderboard.  We began our day on the 13th tee... and unlike the day before, it didn't all go sour right away.  I finally had a few highlights to write about!  

      Round 2 Highlights

      - On the 18th hole, I hit a solid drive up the left side, but it caught the fairway bunker.  This meant I had no shot at going for the green, so I laid up with a 6 iron and left myself 92 yards to the hole.  I hit a really good gap wedge that hit the green and stopped 12 feet from the hole.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to convert for the birdie... but it was nice to have a legitimate shot at one for a change.  I settled for par... but I felt good about that shot.

      - On the 3rd hole, I hit a 7 iron a little deep on the green.  It left me a long way from the hole, but my birdie attempt from 33 feet was tracking.  It stopped a few feet shy, but... again, it left me with a good feeling knowing I was beginning to put things together.

      - After consecutive up & down conversions on the 5th and 6th holes, I hit a strong drive on the 7th that kicked into the left rough.  I was left with 211 to the flag on the par 5 and hit a 4 iron that was on a rope.  If it hadn't hit into the slope at the front of the green, it would have tracked to the hole.  Still... I was 25 feet from the hole with a shot at eagle.  My putt from there missed 2 inches to the left, but I was left with a tap in birdie.  

      - My final hole (the 12th) can cause trouble.  You have to either lay back and leave a longer than wanted shot to the green, or take on the corner and risk getting blocked out.  I took on the corner and it nipped the tree and dropped down.  The ONLY window I had was a fade under and around the tree directly in front of me... and over the trees further up.  The pin was on the left side, which meant anything but a perfect shot was going to be a long putt or off the green.  I hit the exact shot I called for and put the ball to 13 feet.  I was able to convert on the birdie attempt, closing my round and the tournament with a solid birdie.

        Round 2 Lowlights

        - Hole #16 has been my nemesis in the 4 rounds I've played here.  It's not a difficult hole, but it's in my head.  In Round 2, it was no different.  My tee shot was thin with a 4 iron and it hit some rocks short of a hazard and kicked it way right near the pond.  Luckily the pond level was low and my ball was playable.  Ultimately, I ended up making a double bogey on one of the easier holes and played it in 8 over par for the 2 rounds.

        - On the 2nd hole, I hit a great drive.  I was left with about 80 yards in and was looking to stick it close and make a birdie.  Instead, I cold shanked my gap wedge into the trees.  From there, I punched it into a greenside bunker and then added a three-putt for a triple bogey after being in prime position.

        - After a stretch of 5 holes being played in even par, I doubled the 8th hole.  On the 9th tee, I wanted to take my frustration out on my tee shot.  I swung way too hard and pull-hooked the ball out of bounds.  I recovered to make a double bogey (also known as a 'second ball par')... but I was angry.

        - That carried over to the 10th tee where I just blew up any hopes of a sub-90 round.  My tee shot (to be 'safe') was with a 4 iron.  I hammered it, but because I had gone left and OB the day before, I pushed it right and it didn't carry the pond.  A drop behind the pond left me 186 to the hole.  I figured a solid 5 iron would get me there, but the rough was sticky and I didn't catch the ball cleanly, dunking it back in the water.  Ultimately, I took an 8 which would be revised to a maximum score of a triple bogey.

          Round 2 Recap

          Obviously, the second round was stronger for me than the first was... but it was equally frustrating at times.  I posted 2 birdies, which is always nice for a high handicapper to see on his or her card... but I also posted 2 triple bogeys and 5 double bogeys.  Those big numbers killed my scorecard and ruined any shot I had at posting a high enough finish to pick up some spots in the standings.

          Even though I only hit 2 of 14 fairways, I only really missed badly on 4 of the 12 misses.  I reduced my penalty strokes by half, but it's still far too many to be taking.  If nothing else, the tournament left me with the knowledge that I really need to work on my short irons and wedges.  I put myself in really good positions a number of times throughout the 2 days only to waste those opportunities with really poor approach shots with scoring clubs in my hands.

          Round 2 Stats

          • Score - 92 (Club Adjusted to 91)
          • Penalty Strokes - 4
          • Putts - 35
          • Fairways - 2 of 14
          • Greens in Regulation - 5 of 18
          • Up and Downs - 2 of 7
          • Sand Saves - 0 of 2

          Tournament Stats

          • Score - 192 (Club Adjusted to 185)
          • Penalty Strokes - 12
          • Putts - 69
          • Fairways - 8 of 28
          • Greens in Regulation - 9 of 36
          • Up and Downs - 3 of 14
          • Sand Saves - 1 of 3

          I ended up finishing in a tie for 19th out of 29 entrants.  I only earned 102 points in a double-points tournament.  This dropped me down to 17th in the points standings... 2 below the cutoff to qualify for the National Championship at the end of the year.  I was planning on skipping the next tournament... but after another poor showing, I'm now going to have to play to make up as many points as possible.  

          I've got 2 weeks to prepare for that event.  I think I'll spend a majority of any of that prep time at the range working on those scoring clubs and hoping to dial them in.  So... away I go until May 7th at Charlotte National.

          Until then...