Posted in Golf

2016 Golf Year in Review

As always seems to be the case, in 2016 I started slow and finished strong. I didn’t play poorly at the start of the season, scores in the 90s and managed to get several second place finishes.  My focus for the year was to do better in major championships.  I played two, starting with Blackwolf Run in Kohler, WI.  I have played this tournament for the past 3 years and never played very well.  I love the courses and enjoy playing them, but never seem to perform.  This year I flew instead of driving, which was much easier.  The first day I had one rather difficult playing partner, but he wasn’t the cause of my poor play.  I had 2 blow up holes and had 9 penalty strokes, which is ridiculous.  The second day was easier and I shaved 10 strokes off the first day total. I still finished DFL which is very disappointing.

The next major was at Grayhawk in Scottsdale, AZ. This tournament was in early June and managed to be unbearably hot.  They started us very early, which helped. My form was much better.  I shot 100 the first round and was tied for 9th.  The second day I shot 99 and came in T8.  I wasn’t in the top half, but it is my best major performance to date.

After those majors, my play in the local tournaments improved.  My work with my instructor paid off and I started getting more GIR and fewer penalties.  In 16 tournaments I won 3, finished second 7 times and had one third.  I won the season end city championship and my flight for the year.  In doing so, my index dropped 2.5 strokes to an 18.

I wasn’t planning on playing at the National Championship, but I decided it was a good opportunity for me.  I was playing some of my best golf ever. I wasn’t expecting to win, but I thought I could at least not embarrass myself. And I did play better than I have in any major yet.  My first round left in my 30th (out of 67), second round 25th, third round 28th and finished with a T38.  The last day was disappointing as the course seemed to favor me.  I didn’t feel my swing very well and threw away too many strokes. In the end I didn’t meet my goal of finishing in the top half, but I was pleased with my performance.  This is something I can build upon.

The best part of my 2016 season was I had plenty of golf travel.  I played a charity tournament in Palm Springs, CA, majors in WI and AZ, and Nationals in FL.  I played in 8 states for the year.

Goals for 2016

  1. Perform better in majors: I did do better, but I am still a ways away from contending.
  2. 9 GIR/Round: My early season struggles doomed this one.  I was 4.4 for the year, though the end of the season I was at 6 avg.
  3. Break 80 in a tournament: I have the capability of doing this.  I had several tournaments where I felt like I could get close, but I ended having a few holes get away from my.
  4. Get Tour Index to 16: I dropped it from a 20.5 to an 18.
  5. Hole in one: Still hoping.
  6. Keep focus: I did a better job of this.  I had a few difficult playing partners, but I didn’t let them affect me that much.

Favorite Courses

  1. Whistling Straits
  2. Erin Hills
  3. Classic Club
  4. Innisbrook – Copperhead
  5. Quintero

New Courses to Me

Erin Hills, Classic Club, Ocean Links at Amelia Island, Innisbrook – Copperhead, Island & North, Fox Hollow, Quintero, Desert Springs – Palm

Best Round

The tournament at Falcon Lakes.  I didn’t win, but I played my best round of the season. Shot 85 with no penalties, 6 GIR.  Also the first round of the City Championship.  Shot 86, no penatlies, 6 GIR and took a 10 stroke lead to the next day.

Best Shot

Tough to think of one.  Probably a par 3 at the Classic Club that was 185.  I hit my 5 iron and put it about 12′ from the pin and I was the only one in my group to get on the green.

Most Disappointing Round

First round at Blackwolf Run.  Tough to come back from that.

Goals for 2016

  1. Contend in majors: Based on this year, I will be able to do that. Question is, do I return to Blackwolf?
  2. 9 GIR/Round: This is attainable
  3. 30 putts per round: I had 33/round this year.
  4. Get Tour Index to 16: This is doable, only have to shave 2 strokes off.
  5. Driver consistency: this has been a long running problem for me. It is getting better, but I need to keep working on it.
  6. Hole in one: still waiting.

 

 

Posted in Golf

Road to Nationals

I originally wasn’t planning on playing in the Golf Channel Am Tour’s National Championship this year. One of my goals for the year was play better in Majors.  My first major at Blackwolf Run was a failure as I finished DFL.  I played another at Grayhawk in Scotsdale, AZ.  In this one I played better, finishing T8 out of 14,though still not as well I should have.

I did start playing better as the season wore on.  In July and August I put up some good scores, and managed to win twice and come in second three times.  My work with my instructor started to sink in and show in my play.  At the KC tour championship I played very well, putting up a 10 stroke lead on the first day, and managing to win by 12 in the end.  I also won the Jones flight for the year.

In the last few weeks I have been considering playing Nationals.  My reasoning is I have never been better prepared for that level of competition.  I didn’t want to go back to Nationals until I felt like I could compete.  Another reason is next year I won’t be playing Nationals at all as I already have a big golf trip planned to Bandon Dunes.

On the other hand, not competing at the majors makes me think I should do that before tackling Nationals. The course this year is Innisbrook and the courses are tree lined, tight with plenty of water. Which is worth considering as they aren’t easy courses.

In the end I decided to go play.  I have been preparing by playing courses that will provide similar challenges.  The courses my friends and I came up with aren’t courses I have played very well at in the past.  In fact, I have never broken 90 on these. I started this weekend with Ironhorse, which is a course I like, but never manage to score very well.  I didn’t play my best, but I managed an 85, which is 7 strokes better than my previous best.  Next was Dub’s Dread, a long and tight course.  My previous best was a 96.  Even though it was a very hot day and I walked the course, I put up an 85 with only one lost ball.  These rounds are building my confidence.  I am meeting with my instructor this weekend for a playing lesson, then a round at Deer Creek.

I’m not too concerned about where I place at Nationals, but how I score. I have a game plan and if I can retain my focus, I will do fine.

Posted in Golf

Erin Hills

Chad and I weren’t flying back to KC until 5:30 so we decided to play Erin Hills on our last day.  This course will host the 2017 US Open, so we couldn’t pass up a chance.  It was another perfect day, maybe 75, sunny and a light breeze.  We were paired with two guys from Milwaukee.

What a difference a day makes.  I played so much better at Erin Hills. I started with a par and ended up with six pars on the day.  The driver was more predictable.  On one hole it was blind shot over a hill to a fairway that runs sideways left to the green.  The caddy gave us an aiming point and said if you could draw it would be perfect.  I setup and thought draw as my swing thought.  And that is exactly what I did.  My irons were better and I had 5 GIR on the day.  I am happy to say I broke a 100 on a US Open course (99).

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Posted in Golf

Blackwolf Run Day 2

On day 2 I was paired with Marc from the first round.  I was a little hesitant at first because on the first day there was a lot of bickering about rules/scores/etc between Marc and Jay.  My fears were unfounded as Marc was a delight on the second day and made for an easy round on the Meadow Valley.  We were last and next to last in the flight so neither of us had anything to play for, other than pride. Marc’s wife Pauline joined us as his caddy/spectator and it was great to have her along.

Overall I played much better.  I made one mistake on a par 4 where my tee shot was in the left rough and I tried to go at the green when I should have laided up.  My worst scores were a couple of snowmen and I had only 3 penalties instead of 9.  I shot a 102 for the day, which wasn’t enough to move me out of DFL.

I love playing these courses, they are a great challenge.  After the rounds I decided I won’t be back for the tournament again.  I will be back for a guys trip sometime.

Posted in Golf

Blackwolf Run Day 1

The day I have been anticipating for a year finally arrived.  We got to the course early to give us plenty of time to warm up as the range is rather small.  I was playing the River course and starting with no 15 in the shotgun start.  My playing partners are Marc and Jay, both from the Chicago area.  We were the second group on 15 so we watched the first group tee off.  One giant slice, one duffed shot and a one decent swing and they are off.  I think in some ways it helps me see other players struggle on the first tee and it makes me loosen up a bit.  In our turn I swing driver and get one in the fairway.  My approach was left and nestled down in some thick grass.  Unfortunately it took two chips to get on and a one putt later, I bogeyed the first hole.  The next hole was more challenging, a long par 5 with a bunker running down the left of the fairway.  My tee shot ends up in the bunker.  I played a 9 iron out and misjudged how far I hit it.  I ended too far right and have a tree blocking my approach.  I play a wedge to hit down in the fairway, but I gave it too much and it bounced out of the fairway and into the pond protecting the green.  I took a drop at 105 yards and played my 52 degree wedge.  I caught it a little fat and it ended up missing the green and hitting the pond.  Try it again and hit a much better shot.  Two putts and I have a 9.  I followed that up with a nice pitching wedge on a par 3 that I put to about 12′.  I bounced back with a birdie.

After that I had a mix of bogey/doubles until I get to 7.  This was par 4 uphill with a gulch to carry with about a 150 yard shot.  My driver goes hard right into the trees and disappears.  Next try, I hit a low burner than hits the side of the gulch.  Next try, same result.  I switch to a hybrid and I hit it hard left, deeper into the gulch.  Finally, hitting nine on the tee I hit a shot into play. Four penalty strokes off the tee and I end with a 15.

The next hole was even harder, an elevated tee  down to a fairway that runs to the right guarded by a hill that blocks some of the view.  The course provides a forecaddy as it is impossible to see the landing area.  In spite of the blow up on the last hole, I hit a fantastic drive and end with a bogey on the hole. On the next hole, 9, I chip in for my only par of the day.

I have one more memorable hole on no 11.  This was a par 5 the runs in a semicircle with the river guarding the right side.  I hit a nice drive and using my gps I see have about 175 to a bunker across the river and into the fairway.  This would leave me with maybe 130 into the green.  I played my 8 iron figuring this would be plenty of club to clear the river and not end up in the sand.  I hit a slightly fat and splash.  Drop and repeat the same thing.  I change clubs (I can’t remember what my strategy was at this point) and rinse another ball.  I finally get over and score a 12.

At this point I have lost 10 balls on the day and I have two left, with three holes to play.  My goal was to not have to ask to borrow a ball.  I managed to hold on to those 2 and posted a 112.  The day was very discouraging and again I was DFL in my flight.  I didn’t have anyone to blame but myself.  My technique broke down hard on 3 holes.  The rest of the day was decent and if not for the 9 penalty strokes I would have been close to the middle of the pack.

 

Posted in Golf

Countdown to Blackwolf Run T-1 Whistling Straits

Chad and I landed in Milwaukee and headed north for a round at Whistling Straits.  It was a great day to play, mid 60s, sunny and a light breeze.  We had a bite to eat, warmed up and headed to the range.  The swing felt decent, better than it had in the tournament at Falcon Ridge.

When we head to the first tee, we met the guys we were paired with, both who were playing in tomorrow’s tournament at Blackwolf. The swing does OK on the course.  My driver was more predictable and I hit 8 fairways.  My irons were a bigger problem.  I had only one GIR on the day.  My usual high draw was a weak cut mixed in with a few thin shots.  My saving grace was the putter and I ended with 32 putts and no 3 putts.  I shot a 104 on the day.

It was a great day and good company.

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Posted in Golf

Countdown to Blackwolf Run T-6 Falcon Ridge

I drove to the Falcon Ridge tournament knowing my swing wasn’t dependable.  I warmed up on the range and my driver hadn’t changed.  So I took a different approach.  I decide to leave the driver in the bag except for a few holes.

First tee, I hit hybrid as it is a short par 4.  Second tee, 5 wood. In the end I hit the driver 6 times.  None of them were very good, but I managed to not get into trouble.  My 5 wood was dependable and is fine except for long par 4s.

I played decent in the tournament except for a couple of holes.  I played a penalty free round and put up a 94 to come in second.  My short game was pretty good, in spite of missing some putts I normally would make.

I feel the tournament was good for me.  I didn’t have my A game, but I was able to score well enough to stay in competition.