The GC Am Tour‘s Iowa State Championship was played on August 20 and the Tournament Club of Iowa was the venue. TCI is a challenging Arnold Palmer course and was even more challenging due to the poor condition of the course. Many fairways and greens were burnt out and bereft of grass. We had clean-life-and-replace in effect on several holes.
My flight had three competitors, my buddy Chad and an Iowa tour player, Heath, who has played well on the Iowa Tour this season. Heath and I played in three tournaments before and each time I won the tournament and Heath came in second.
My front nine was decent. I played steady, bogeying every hole but one with a triple. In my flight, bogey golf will win. My putting suffered due to the crappy greens. I had the speed down, but I ended up with a lot of weird breaks. I imagine the greens would be difficult to judge under normal conditions. I put up a 46 while Heath shot a great front with a 42.
On the back I stumbled a bit on the first couple of holes, going triple on no. 10, giving Heath a 6 stroke lead. I settled down and Heath started falling back. My driver was finding fairways though my putting still sucked. I parred 16 and pulled even with Heath. On 17, a long par 5, I hit a great tee shot and followed it with a great 4 wood. My wedge ended up in the greenside bunker. I got out of the sand but was still short of the green. Chip on and two putt for a 7. Heath missed a putt and also doubled the hole. No. 18 is a tricky par 4 with water on the left and junk in front of the green. I pushed my tee shot into the rough and topped my second shot. I ended up on the green in 5 and two putted for a triple. Even though I tried to give it away, Heath matched my 7. We tied with 97s.
On the GC Am Tour we do sudden death playoffs. I had been in two before, winning one after one hole, and another after two holes. We went back to the first tee. We both parred the hole. No. 2, bogey, no. 3, bogey, no. 4 bogey, no. 5 par. On no. 5, a par 5 with many bunkers, I hit a great tee shot past a giant bunker. My second shot was fat and I ended up in another bunker. With about 115 yards to the pin, I had a terrible lie with the ball close to the left edge. I had a difficult stance with the ball about a foot below my feet. I aimed my swing to the left side of the green and hit a great shot right at the pin. It bounced twice and stopped about 8′ from the hole. I did my usual two putt. On no. 6 we both hit good drives. My second was topped and the third ended in the greenside bunker. Heath hit a great approach shot to 12′ from 175 yards. Heath two putted for the par and the win.
We gave each other chances to win. Heath hit a great shot and I hit a lousy one, so he earned the win. It was a big win for Heath. Who wouldn’t want to win their tour’s champiosnhip? To top it off, his dad rode along with him for all 24 holes.
What I’ll take away from the tournament is keeping my cool in the playoff. Tournaments can be stressful, adding a sudden death playoff ratcheted up the pressure. I dealt with it and played some good golf. I played the first five playoff holes at +3, while in the regular round I was +5. The other things is I need to work on my putting. I ended up with 39 putts, my worst of the year by far. I’ve already been working on it, spending over 5 hours on the practice green over the next week. The greens were terrible, but I had more trouble with it than my playing partners did.
Next weekend is the KC City Championship at Shoal Creek. I like this course. I came in second here in last year’s championship. In looking at the layout I think it sets up better for my game now. If I can play my swing and keep the penalties to a minimum, I should do well. One player in my flight, Mike, is the favorite. He has played well all season and is very steady. It is his tournament to lose, but I plan on giving him a run.