Today was a microcosm of how great golf can be and how gut twisting.
The front 9 I played was as solid as I have been in a long time, save one HORRENDOUS swing and hole. It wasn’t the lowest 9, the best I have stripped, nor was it in any way spectacular . What it was was solid and easy.
To start, I drove it just off the front edge of the green on a 355 par 4 and got up and down for birdie.
The next hole was a 573 into the wind par 5 with OB left. I favored the right side too much landed just in the right edge of the fairway and kicked on the cart path. My nearest relief was in a lie and angle where I couldn’t hit 3-wood, so I layed up, hit it about 8 feet and misread it just a hair and burned the edge.
I hit it within 30 yards of the next hole (375) and hit a great vertical shot over a tree onto the back tier about 4 feet and made birdie.
200 yard par 3, in between clubs. My shot started left, hooked, the wind blew it left, it kicked left and rolled left. It was left of left. I hit the pitch a bit too hard and hit two terrible putts to walk off with a double and back to even.
I hit 3-iron a little through the next fairway, had a little tree trouble and punched it up there like 20 feet and made it.
Par 5, driver, iron, 2 putts.
A nasty 150 yard into the wind, uphill par 3 with anything short going in water. Reminds me of an easier version of 13 at Augusta. I hit a 9-iron low into the wind and it never left the flag and jumped over the green. I hit a nice pitch and left the putt short in the jar from 8-feet.
The next two holes are 450 into the wind par 4’s. The first was a basic drive, iron and 2 putt. The second is a nasty hole. OB left, tree and bunkers right and water short and left of green.
Perfect drive, perfect wedge to 12 feet and a burned edge.
Nothing to write home about on the scorecard. 1-under, big deal…I agree. What I can’t explain was the intangible ease that I was hitting most of the shots. Not feeling stuck, not thinking too much, not worrying about my swing. Pick a shot, pick a club and hit it. I hit more of those simple shots on this 9 than I have hit in the last year and that is the key to my improvement.
Can it be this easy for me to hit golf shots mentally so I can focus on playing the game and shooting a score.
The next hole was a 325 par 4 with a lake short of the green. I could fly the lake no problem. The problem was it was down wind and there was no way the ball would land on the green and hold down wind…and I could not get 3 wood there. I am all for taking stupid chances, but not when there is zero benefit, as an 80 yard shot from the fairway was easier than over this green.
So I went against my principles and layed up. I pulled it slightly, the wind got it and it went near the edge of the hazard next to a bush.
I slashed it out on the green, while turning my SW shaft into a crescent shape and felt a tweak in my shoulder. I thought it was just a stinger, but it wouldn’t go away. I tried to make another swing, but it wouldn’t work.
I have WD’d an embarrassing number of times the last 5-10 years because I was so frustrated at how awful I was. This time, I wanted to play more, but couldn’t.
I had it looked at by a friend who is a physical therapist and it was a strain or a pull that just needs 7-10 days of rest…another bummer as I was starting to get it a little.
I asked if I should have toughed it out kept playing. “Bad idea. Then you could have torn something.”
That made me feel a little better.
I am always open to any criticisms, as long as they are valid and on point. I deserve plenty. Unlike my younger years, I am not interested in making excuses or justifying anything. I am trying to give an honest rendition of what I am thinking and what I need to do to get my game back to where I want it.