It's been a long time since I have played really well on the golf course. In fact, all year I've felt like my game is garbage and I've honestly held some disdain for getting up at 6:45am weekend after weekend to go hack it around. So, forgive my attitude if I didn't expect too much of myself when it came around to the club championships, an event where I have in the past NEVER made a cut in the Open Flight.
Last Saturday however I figured something out with my golf swing when a great player at our club, Bernie, mentioned that I was swaying my upper body too much with my shots. This seemed to make sense to me and I made a little adjustment to my setup. What a difference! I played a round at Grand Niagara this week and hit the ball quite well with that little tweak.
So off we go for the club championship round 1:
I start off in the bunker left (as usual), then left again hitting the cart path and bouncing left of the green, and make a nice pitch and two putt to take my medicine. I then start playing well, birdie #2, par #3, birdie #4, all par's, then birdie #8 and par #9 for a very nice 34 going out. At this point i'm astonished at my luck but am focused and don't feel nerves. I make a nice pitch and putt on par 5 #10 to birdie and go 3-deep. I hit a ball in the bunker on 11's tee shot and make a bogey, par #12 from off the front of the green, and hit a ball into the hazard right on #13. I take my double and I'm back to even. I bogey #15 and #16, two par 5's (stroke of bad luck on #16) and I'm starting to feel let down about blowing a good score. #17 I chunk my tee shot and it rolls off the front of the deck. I make a nice 8i shot and sink the putt for a very good par. I play a straightforward #18 to shoot 74. Not bad, not bad for a hacker like me.
Round 2 I start in a 4-way tie for 3rd and one ahead of the final 4-some. My goal is to shoot a solid score and keep my head in the game. I play very solid golf all the way around, making one birdie on #14 and a few bogeys and was +3 until I hit #16. There, I hit a uncharacteristic rescue shank into the fescue right and lose it. My re-tee'd ball is a good shot and I make a double. How unfortunate and I drop to +5 for the day. I play #17 and #18 as well as I can expect to and make pars to shoot 77. Sort of deflating way to end a relatively solid day but again, no complaints.
As I sat around drinking stella pints with Matt and Jay happy that I made a cut for once, Gary approached and said I was in the final group. Umm, what? I said no way they definitely are playing 3-somes as they often do, but I was wrong -- I made the final group on the final day alone in 4th spot. There's something important about the final pairing -- all the spectators come out to watch them from their carts and it's generally a very exciting vibe. I know this from being a spectator in the past myself. You couldn't wipe the grin off my face after hearing this and it got even better when Matty offered to caddy for me.
Round 3 I teed it up last of our group. I had played with each of Mike, Bernie and Jamie before a few times, and I knew being so far back of the solidly playing lead (8 strokes) I was unlikely to catch up that much. So, it was a no-nerves day really. I parred every hole until 8 where I made a nice wedge shot and putt to go -1 for the day. I scrambled around a tiny bit but hit a lot of greens until #14 where I took an aggressive swing and pulled it. I hit a nice pitch but could not make the putt (weak effort) and dropped to even. #15, #16, #17 were all normal pars... and then came 18.
At this point I was far, far behind the leader. Mike had a great day and was -2 so crushing us all. Good for him. So when I say i stepped onto the tee to hit first on #18 without nerves, I mean it. No pressure, no nerves. Unfortunately, my golf swing decided to give me a hiccup for the first time and I hit a nice cut out of bounds right. Wow, what a bad hole/situation to have that happen in! My next drive was right as well, but stayed well inside bounds ending behind some trees. My 4th I tried to keep under prior-mentioned trees but caught a few branches and fell short of the green. My 5th, a pitch flew a little bit too far and rolled through the green into a very tough lie. Oh, did I fail to mention there were 100+ people watching this? HAHA!
My 6th shot was from a downhill grassy lie right near a sprinkler head from which we chose not to seek relief. The green sloped away from me and I had not much to work with. Well, my 60 degree wedge somehow came through and my ball landed perfectly and rolled straight into the hole. I received a nice applause from the crowd and ended the day at a 74.
So, to summarize, 74-77-74. I finished 12 shots behind the winner and placed tied for second place myself. I would have bet a large amount prior to the clubs that I would not place 3rd or better, would not play in the final group. I did these things, I was mentally in the game the whole way, and I could have been better.
Thanks a bunch to Matty the Caddy, who gave solid advice the whole way around and looked more deflated than I did when my tee ball on the 18th soared over the fence. He's goooooood.