Posted in Golf

Midseason Update

It has been a good year so far. The AmTour season has five weeks left. I’ve played in nine tournaments so far. I opened the season with a really good score on a tough course. Another player had a better rounds, so I came in solo 2nd. I haven’t bettered that finish since then, though I did finish T3 in the most recent event.

I’ve had some struggles this year. My driver has been hit-or-miss. In some tournaments it is great, in others it is unpredictable. In my last tournament at Drumm Farm it was on and I had some great drives. My putting has been improved over previous seasons. My biggest issue has been getting on the greens.


Sycamore Ridge: Earned 3 skins all on the back 9, including no. 16.

Drumm Farm: Best tournament score so far, no penalties. Score was also a new personal best for that course.

Stone Canyon: Shooting a 41 on the front.

I’ve continued my lesson with Julie Roberts and I am seeing progress. This year I have beat my personal best on five different courses. My index hasn’t dropped much, but I haven’t put up so many bad scores.

My plan for the rest of the AmTour season is to keep improving. I need to avoid tension and keep myself focused on fundamentals and keep my swing loose. I want to have results, but I’m not concerned with my place in the tournaments. If I play a good round and finish 5th, I am cool with that.

Posted in Golf

Stone Canyon

The first tournament of the 2012 GC AmTour season here in KC was on April 1 at Stone Canyon Golf Club.  Stone Canyon is a newer course and was designed by Greg Norman.  It is known as one of the tougher courses in KC with very fast greens.  I have played it several times in the past and found it a tough test.  The greens are deceptive.  It may look like is breaks one way, but end up breaking hard in the opposite direction. The greens complexes create deception by the mounding around the green.  I played a practice round a few weeks ago and broke my personal best with a 91.

In the offseason I have been practicing a lot.  We had an unusually mild winter, so I was able to hit the range and play some rounds.  Leading up to the tournament I managed to play 9 rounds before April, which is amazing for Kansas City.  I even got in a lesson a couple of weeks before the tournament.  I developed a habit of getting stuck, which led to fat shots or blocks to the right. My instructor tweaked my posture and that seems to have fixed the issue for now.

My index dropped down to 16 at the end of handicap season so I moved up to the Jones flight (16-20 index). Stone Canyon was my first tournament in the the higher flight. I prepared a lot for this.  I practiced on fast greens knowing how difficult the greens would be. When I hit the range I would play the front 9 in my head and pick targets and distances that I would face on the course. I was nervous in the days leading up.  Playing with better players made me want to prove myself and not embarrass myself either.

On Sunday my tee time was 12:30 and it was very warm and windy.  No. 1 was a short par 4, so I teed off with a hybrid, which I put in the fairway.  Got on the green and two putted for a par.  Bogeyed the next two holes, parred the next two.  I was keeping the ball in the fairway and out of trouble.  My putting wasn’t great, but I wasn’t three putting.  We make the turn and I realize I had a handful of pars and the rest were all bogeys.  In a way that relaxed me.  I didn’t have to worry about embarrassing myself.  I was even competing in the better flight. On the back I ran into a little trouble.  I was in a greenside bunker on 10 that took me two to get out and onto the green.  On 11 I landed past the green, chipped on and took my first three putt. A couple of holes later and the wind has really picked up.  On 13, a long par 5, I was faced with a slice wind.  I aimed my shot down the left side and figured the wind would carry it back to the fairway.  No, the drive was straight as could be.  I still put up a bogey in spite of my first bad drive of the day.  On 14 I lost the ball I had played with the entire round.  I finished the round okay.  When I added up my score I found I had a 41 on the front and a 52 on the back.  My 93 was enough to give me second place in the Jones flight out of 13 players. I couldn’t have been happier with my performance.  My preparation paid off.

Posted in Golf

2011 Golf Year in Review

The 2011 golf season is coming to a close.  The leaves are falling and the courses will be tougher to play. My rounds are winding down, though I will keep practicing. Now is a good time to reflect on my progress towards my goals for 2011.

Goal#1 Break 80. This was my most unrealistic goal of the bunch and I nearly did it. I had one round at Heritage Park of 80, though it was two separate 9 hole rounds. It still counts for handicap purposes. I did break my personal best for 9 holes with a 38 on the front, beating my previous best of 41. That was the best I ever played, finishing with 6 straight pars.

Goal #2 Average 32 putts per round. I fell short of this. Last year I averaged 36 putts/round. This year I got down to 35/round. I still have a lot of work to do on my putting. I had some instruction on this and I feel like my stroke is sound. My trouble is reading the break. I’m really good at burning the edges, not so good at sinking putts.

Goal #3 Lower index to 16.0. I got very close with this one. I started the year at 19.8 and I finished the year with a 16.2. Back in April/May I put up some terrible scores and my index went up to over 21. I am pleased to lower it by 5 strokes since then, mostly thanks to my instructor.

Goal #4 Play with more consistency. This one is a fail for me. I seem to have less consistency overall. Within a round I could real off par after par and pepper with triple bogeys and penalty shots. I had some great scores and I’d follow it up with a spectacularly bad scores. The best example of this is the Major at TPC Deere Run. It was a two day tournament back in April. I played a practice round on Friday and played a great round, shooting a 93. I played the same ball until I rinsed my approach on 18. The year before the winner had shot s 94-95, so I was pumped up about my chances. The next day I was terrible and shot 25 strokes worse, a 118, one of my worst scores in years. I recovered a little the next day with a 108, still 15 strokes worse than the practice round. I did manage to finish 7th in my flight out of 12. My consistency has improved since I found my instructor, but I have a long way to go. I can attribute some of this losing focus. It isn’t the case where I have too many swing thoughts, but not having any. My mind blanks and I forget to pay attention to the fundamentals. Doing that is an easy way to get a bad shot that ends up with a penalty stroke. My penalty strokes were up for this year in spite of lowering my index and my scoring average. If I can eliminate the penalties, my index would drop considerably. On the range I am a much better player than last year. I go through range sessions where I can’t hit a bad shot. It would seem my problems are more mental than technical. I’ll be spending some time with Bob Rotella in the offseason.

Now that my index is 16.2 I can move up a flight in the Golf Channel Am Tour. I’ve looked at how my scores compared to the Jones flight. I had tournaments where I would have been 1st, 2nd and 4th, the rest towards the back of the pack if not dead last. The Tour also uses a tournament index to flight players. This index is tougher, best 7 scores of last 9 tournaments, so this will be worse than your official index unless you are really consistent. Mine is over 21, so technically I could stay in the Snead flight. The Jones flight on the KC Tour is very competitive, usually with 7-10 players, whereas the Sneads usually have 4-5. I am going to move up to the Jones. I realize I won’t be as competitive, but in a way that is a good thing. It would mean less pressure for me, less expectations. I had high expectations for this season based on the success I had in my first season and I think that hurt my performance.

Goals for 2012

1. Break 80. This will happen and if I had to guess it will be at Heritage Park. This is a course that suits my game and I have some good scores here.

2. Average 8 GIR/round. I am at 4 GIR/round now. I don’t know if I can reach 8, but this is an area of needed improvement and will dramatically help my scores.

3. Average 32 putts/round. Maybe I should get a belly putter…

4. Lower index to 12.0. I think this is possible if I can get more GIR and eliminate penalties.

5. Reduce penalties. I average 3.3/round now which is worse than last year. Ultimately I would like to get it to 0, but below 2 would be more attainable.

6. Shoot more in the 80’s than 90’s, never in the 100’s.

7. Spend less money on golf. This has nothing to do with my game, but I realize I have an issue with my golf spending. I will play in less tournaments. I played in 17 in 2011, in 5 states. I will limit myself to 6-8 tournaments in 2012. I have Mondays off, so I will play then when it is cheaper. I don’t need more clubs, clothes or shoes, no matter how much I enjoy them.

Highlights of the year.

Best Round: This is tough to choose as there are several that stand out. Shooting a 93 in my practice round at TPC Deere Run was pretty good. In my AZ trip my 90 at Grayhawk’s Raptor course was pretty good too. My tournament round at Tiffany Greens was pretty good as I hit all but one fairway.  Probably the best was my tournament win at the Legacy in Norwalk, IA. This is a course I’ve played many times. I’ve always enjoyed it but never played it very well, only breaking 100 once. I played the front a little ragged with too many doubles and posted a 50 leaving me a stroke behind the leader. I started the back much better, going +2 for the first 6 holes. I caught and passed the leader for the win. Apart from the win, I had a great time as my playing partners were a blast, Chad, Paul and Heath.

Best shot: This one is easier. It was a practice round at Prairie Highlands on 17, a short par 4. I was playing with Chad and he hit a perfect drive, leaving him about 25 yards short of the green. I played conservatively and hit a hybrid off the tee. My second shot was fat and I was still behind Chad’s ball, about 30 yards from the green. The pin was in the front so there wasn’t a lot of room for a pitch. I opened up my 60 degree and tried to land it on the front of the green. I hit the pitch soft and landed it close to my target and it rolled in for a birdie. I ended up winning the hole as Chad chipped on and two putted for a par.

Favorite Course I Played in 2011:

1. Troon North: Pinnacle

2. Grayhawk: Raptor

3. TPC Deere Run

4. The Legacy, Norwalk, IA

5. We-Ko-Pa: Saguaro (would have been higher if it had been in better shape)

New Courses to Me in 2011:

Staley Farms, Bear Creek Vally, Redfield CC, We-Ko-Pa: Saguaro, Eagle Mountain, Grayhawk: Raptor, Blue River

Plan for 2012:

Practice: I improved my practice routine this year. I found a practice facility I liked at Ironhorse in Leawood, KS. It has a good range, self-service balls, and a good short game area with bunkers and a chipping green. The practice green is very fast so that is good experience for me.

I practice with a purpose. I start with one or two things to work on during the session. Maybe my hybrids are hooking, so I would work on setup and then try to fade my hybrid. I’d also work on what I did in my previous sessions to help reinforce it. I need to keep working on my short game. Putting and chipping involve so much feel that repetition will only help.


Posted in Golf

KC City Championship

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.

Posted in Golf

Iowa State Championship

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.

Posted in Golf


I had a lesson this morning with Julie at Minor Park. I didn’t have anything in particular I wanted to work on but we discovered my wedges and short irons were pulling. I was aiming to the right and turning my shoulders too quick, resulting in a pull 10-15 yards to the left. We fixed my issue with aim. What was left was the fact that I was trying to hit the ball instead of swing the club. It gave me a lot of tension in swing. So Julie had me work on removing the tension in my upper body by focusing it in my legs. I tense up my legs on purpose and that lessens the tension in my arms and shoulders. I also focused on swinging easier. My ball flight straightened out and went much higher. I’m really pleased with the results. It is far from automatic, but I my misses aren’t any worse than before, so it is already better.

I’ll get to test out the changes tomorrow at the AmTour tournament at Falcon Lakes. Wish me luck.