There’s a single figure golfer inside!
After my last post, you may remember my joy at shooting a 40 in the Eclectic competition, and feeling that the rounds of a single figure golfer are getting closer. You may also remember my handicap being reduced to 18.1 after that performance. Then, there was some doubt whether or not the reduction was correct, or a computer malfunction! I hoped it would stick.
Unfortunately, on Friday night I received this…
Yup – my fears were confirmed. It wasn’t a qualifier, so it was a computer malfunction, meaning my handicap went back up to 19.9. Gutted! I suppose, if anything this made me even more determined to have a good round in the medal on Saturday as I know I have to start reducing my handicap if I’m to become the single figure golfer the challenge promised back in November!
So, I rocked up as per usual and got fully waterproofed up ready for my round with Russ (14hcp), Adam (7hcp) and Andy (5hcp). I was crossing everything that the weather would be kind, the forecast was 50/50!
I hit my driver off the first…BOOM, straight down the middle. A great start. Unfortunately, made a right pigs ear of my 2nd, and my 3rd shots! Finally got on the green for 4, and 2 putted for a 6. Not the start of a single figure golfer, especially after the great tee shot. The second was equally scrappy. Not a great drive and overhit my second off the green. Chipped to 6 inches though for a knock in par putt. Maybe this would be the start of something?
Played the 3rd really well. Great 3 wood down the middle and a nice chip onto the green. My swing really felt like it’d clicked on this hole, and I just felt really confident over the ball. Just missed the birdie putt, but dropped it for another par.
On the 4th (my sometime nemesis par 3 hole!), hit another really solid iron onto the green, whilst both Adam and Andy took a trip into the greenside bunker. I’m not sure these should have been in play today – which I’m sure was a heavily discussed topic in the clubhouse!
Two putted for another par.
The 5th was a little annoying. Long Par 4, stroke index 2. Hit a fantastic drive, up on the left of the fairway. The marker opposite me was the 150yard marker, and it plays a little uphill so took a 7 iron. Should be about spot on. Hit a beautiful iron that I thought would be somewhere near. Got up there and it was way off the back!! Gutted! Chipped on and two putted for a 5. Should have been a par! Still, after 5 holes I’m only 3 over gross. Happy with that! Played the 6th pretty solid too, but could only manage a bogey 5.
The 7th was probably the highlight of the round. Par 5, 515 yards, dog leg left. Hit another good tee shot that landed in the middle of the fairway at the end of the dog leg. Longer hitters would go for the green from where I was with a wood, but you have to be sure of that shot as you have to take on the long horrible rough and play over some trees. Not the kind of risky shot that will make me a single figure golfer! So, I took a 5 iron and hit it up the fairway to about 110 yards from the pin. I then hit this shot…
Took my pitching wedge, and hit a beauty to about 2ft. Birdie putt on this one. My putting had been really solid so far, so felt pretty good stood over this. Lined it up, focussed on my routine and listened out for that magical sound of the ball dropping in the cup…and it did! Birdie 4 and still only 3 over gross!
My confidence was now just oozing, and I felt totally in the zone that golf folk talk of. I wasn’t thinking about my swing, in fact, I wasn’t really thinking about anything. I was just picking a target, focussing on it and hitting the ball. I was playing like a single figure golfer.
I played the next two holes equally well. I hit both fairways, hit both greens in regulation and walked off with two more pars. After 9 holes, I’d shot my best score ever off the comp tees. I’d shot a 39, 3 over gross and 7 under my handicap! I think I had the lowest score out of the four of us playing, despite having the highest handicap.
Now, for the first time I started thinking about my score. This is always the danger. You score really well on the front 9 and then try to play safe on the back 9 to preserve the score. Isn’t that what low single figure golfers do? All I knew, was that if I started to think about it, the wheels would fall off.
So, I tried really, really, really hard to just take each shot at a time, and not worry about the score. Especially as the next three holes (10, 11 & 12) are notorious for wrecking cards! Fortunately, I played all three pretty solidly. I had bogey 5’s at 10 and 11, so was still 7 under my handicap.
The 12th is a tricky hole. Par 4, 415 yards with trouble left and right off the tee. Hit a great drive that put me in a decent position to attack the green. However, I was still about 170 yards from the pin and with a horrible steep bunker at the front of the green, so decided not to risk it and laid up. Chipped on and was left with this putt for a par.
Balls, it just lipped out! Finished up with another bogey 5.
The next 4 holes were all pretty much the same. Played them all really well, but nothing really went my way which resulted in more bogeys for my collection. The par 5 15th and the par 3 16th should both have been par, but missed easy putts. Still, despite all the bogeys, I remained 8 shots under my handicap with two holes to play, surely I was heading for a handicap reduction. The challenge to become a single figure golfer might just make some moves in the right direction today.
Then…the weather stopped being so kind! Some light rain started on the 14th, but it wasn’t until 16 that it really started coming down. I had two holes to play, and this was not what I needed. Having felt pretty calm all the way around I started to feel some pressure. Not even pressure to win the comp, but pressure to get a good enough score to reduce my handicap.
On the 17th, I tee’d up my ball as the rain completely battered me, showing no signs of letting up and allowing me to finish well. Hit my worst tee shot of the day and found the fairway bunker. Balls! Walking along the fairway, I desperately tried to keep myself calm…and dry! I was failing at both! Rushed the entire hole, and didn’t play it well at all. Walked off with a scrappy 6. Still, only one hole to play and my score was still ok.
The 18th at The Manor is a tough finishing hole at the best of times. It’s a LONG, uphill par 5, 554 yards with water off the tee, water left and trees right. Its even tougher when the rain is driving in your face too!
Thankfully, I hit a decent drive up onto the fairway. I was still rushing a little, and it showed with my next shot. Hit a scabby 3 wood, that was ugly and got caught up in the wet grass. Hit a decent 5 iron, but was still a good 140 yards from the green. Decided to make sure as there is a huge bunker all the way along the left of the green, so took a 7 iron that just rolled off to the back. Chipped on to 6 ft, which I needed for 6. It looked in all the way, but at the last moment, just dribbled past. A double bogey 7 to finish.
I was gutted with those last two holes, although given the conditions I guess I should be thankful it wasn’t any worse. I finished with a 47 on the back 9, giving me an 86 total and a net 66. I had to be pleased with that.
The front 9 will now be the benchmark, and playing that well has certainly given me some more confidence in my game. It’s also one for Ryan…to prove he hasn’t wasted all that time on me!
I just need to try and get somewhere near that over 18 holes, then this single figure golfer I’m aiming to be won’t be to far away.