The GC Am Tour season came to a close in Kansas City with the final tournament, the KC City Championship ay Shoal Creek Golf Club. Last season the City Championship was held at Shoal Creek and I came in second in my flight. I struggled with the very fast greens but played well enough to be in contention. My buddy Chad won the flight last season with a great first round and a second round where he didn’t blow up. I really like the layout of Shoal Creek and thought I could do well as long as I avoid penalties.
The first round was ragged. The greens had been aerated and were unpredictable. The short putts seemed to take strange breaks after the many bumps on the green. My putting was a little better than my playing partners. I had 35 putts on the day which was better than I thought I did. My problem was penalty strokes. First tee I hooked the ball into a hazard. I fought the hooks off the tee all day long and there is enough trouble left that it hurt my score. I ended up with a 97 for the day, good enough to tie for first. We all struggled. The co-leader, Mike, had 43 putts. I felt good about my chances in the second round. If I could prevent the penalties I would put up a good score.
The second round was the first tee time of the day at 7:08am. We arrived in darkness and hit balls on the range as the sun was rising. On the range my swing felt wrong. It wasn’t smooth, it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t straight. I tried to focus on the fundamentals, setup, grip and alignment and take easy swings. It started to feel better and I headed to the first tee. My tee shot was a good one, down the middle. That was the good shot I hit for several holes. I had three penalties in the first four holes, giving Mike a comfortable lead. Even with the penalties I was recovering pretty well. Problem was I’d get a bogey or a double when the other guys were getting pars. I ended up with a 51 for the front. I started figuring out my driver on the back and played much better, shooting a 44. My buddy Chad had a great round and nearly took 2nd place from me, ending up 2 strokes behind, gaining 5 on me from the first day.
So I finished second in my third straight tournament. For the season I had three wins, five seconds, and four thirds out of 17 tournaments. Last season I had three wins in 10 events. I am a little disappointed with my results. I feel like my play was more erratic this year. I had more penalties this season. If you take away the penalty holes I was playing very well. Granted, I have been working with a new instructor on some swing changes and it takes a while to see results on the course. I am definitely playing better than I was in May. I’m seeing more results on the range than on the course, which is typical. Now I have 6-7 months to work on grooving the changes and making them permanent.
One of the things I need work on is my mental game. I used to be more stoic on the course. If I hit a bad shot I’d beat myself up on the inside. I am more demonstrable now, for both the good and bad shots. I try not to let my passion affect my partners and not let it bleed over into the next shot. On Sunday I think I did better with that. With the early penalties I still kept from putting up a big number (8 or higher), which would have been typical for me. Even though I was pissed at myself, I played out the holes well. It is hard to keep in mind that one bad hole doesn’t ruin a round, yet every stroke is important and every miss hurts you.
The question for next season is which flight? My index will be a 18.4 at the next revision. My flight cutoff is 20, so I do qualify to start the season in the next flight up. The GC Am Tour uses a tournament index to handle flighting in season. My tournament index is still at a 23, so if I did move up, I wouldn’t be in contention. I am not planning on playing as many tournaments, so maybe 2012 would be a good time to dip my toe into the waters. The next flight up, the Jones, plays the same tees, so that isn’t a deterent. And in some of my wins in the past two years my score was good enough to win the Jones flight too. So do I make the leap (assuming I can maintain or better my index for the rest of the index season) or stay in the Sneads until I can earn a promotion by lowering my tournament index. The Jones flight is much bigger, usually with 8-10 golfers, so there are payouts for 2nd and 3rd. I could see finishing in the money on a couple of tournaments. I won’t have to decide until next year when I renew my membership. I’ll need to consider how I have done in the offseason. I hope this winter will allow time on the range and maybe even the course.
I have to say I feel a little down with the end of the tournament season. I don’t have something in the immediate future to work on/obsess about. I won’t have the schedule for next year until January. I’m already counting the days to the first event.