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2018 Golf Year in Review

My 2018 season saw some improvement.  I played in the Senior Jones flight, but found out they changed the age limit mid year to 55, so I will be back in regular Jones for 2019.  I played two majors one, in December, which I covered in last year’s review, and one in July in San Antonio.  I finished the La Cantera major in 14th out of 24.  On the plus side my scores in the majors were better than my previous scores.

My scores in the local tournaments were an improvement over past years.  My average score was a full stroke better than previous best.  For the first time ever, I avoided a terrible score in a tournament by not having any scores over 99.

I finished with 3 wins and 4 second places.  By the end of the season I felt like I should be able to win any tournament.  My driver was improved and I found my wedges were a weapon I didn’t have before.

I had one golf trip in 2018 and it was something special.  For my friend Chad’s 40th birthday, three of us went to Pinehurst.  We played no. 2, 4, 7, 8 and 9.  The courses were fantastic and resort was great.  My favorites were nos. 4 and 8.  We played no. 4 only a few weeks after it reopened.

Goals from 2018

 

  • Get promoted to the Sarazen flight.  – I got closer but my index is still a couple of strokes away.
  • No tournament scores above 99. – Success!
  • More tournaments in the 80s than the 90s. – I had 4 in the 80s and 8 in 90s.
  • Make my driver a more reliable club. – I still have work to do on this one, but I saw some improvement this year.
  • Hole in one – still waiting

Favorite Courses

 

1. Pinehurst no. 4

2. Pinehurst no. 8

3. Pinehurst no. 2

New Courses to Me

Pinehurst no. 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, La Cantera – Resort and Palmer

Bets Round

The tournament at Sycamore Ridge.  This is my favorite course in Kansas City.  I started with 6 straight pars.  I managed to put up two 41s for a 82 and a 9 stroke win.

Best Shot

The most memorable shot was at La Cantera in San Antonio, first hole on the Resort course. I started on no. 10 which is an uphill par 5.  The greens were very hard and fast.  I was the last to putt and after watching the other guys struggle, my confidence wasn’t high.  I had about a 25’ putt, uphill breaking to the right. I hit my putt and it went right into the hole.  That was about the only highlight of that round.

Most Disappointing Round

Tournament at Falcon Lakes.  It is a course I am very familiar with but was off all day.

Goals for 2019

1. Get promoted to the Sarazen flight.

2. Win 5 tournaments.

3. More tournaments in the 80s than the 90s.

4. Get the driver more consistent.

5. Get some eagles.

 

 

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2015 Golf Year in Review

I skipped this review last year so I am two years behind.  There wasn’t much to say about 2014.  I did play Nationals, but also had some injury issues.

This year I decided to make a change.  I started the year early thanks to a mild winter.  Unfortunately my instructor didn’t seem to have any time. The previous year I had a lot of trouble scheduling lessons.  After trying again to schedule a lesson and finding it would be a month, I looked for a new instructor.  I tried a couple before I found a good one who fit my learning style.  It took a while for the changes to show in the results.  I started the tournament season slowly. By June my confidence in my swing was improving. While my scores weren’t as low as I wanted, they were good enough to win my flight four times from June to August. Part of this is due to the competition.  If you look at the indexes in my flight, no one was really playing to their potential. My winning scores were low 90s and one 88. In past years mid 80s were necessary to win my flight.

The biggest improvement to my swing was the iron play.  I have always struggled getting GIR.  For the year I averaged 4.2, but for the second half of the season I improved to 5.5. And in the first three tournaments of the 2016 season I averaged 5.7. Another improvement was my wedge play. I sued to avoid anything under 75 yards as it was a partial swing. My pitch shots are vastly better, to the point where I don’t worry about the approach shot distance.  If I miss the green, I should have an easy chip. I saw an increase in my distances too. Every club went up 10 yards. When this started it was tough for me to judge as it wasn’t consistent. And there were times when the distance was completely unexpected. I had an approach shot at Blackwolf Run that was into the wind and 125 yards to the middle of the green. I hit my PW and cleared the green. The GameGolf said I hit it 148 yards.

Goals from 2015

  1. Win my flight: I came in second but it was close.
  2. 32 putts/round: I came back on this one, up to 35. It was getting better during the second half where it was 34.
  3. 9 GIR/round: I improved a lot here in the 2nd half when I was up to 5.5/
  4. 10 Fairways/round: I am getting closer to matching this, up to 8 in the 2nd half
  5. < 2 penalties/round: This one was a struggle. Even in good rounds I had trouble avoiding penalties.  I was at 2.1 for the year.
  6. Tour Index of 16: This was a fail as my index went up to 20.
  7. Tour scoring average below 90: I got close with 90.4 in the second half.
  8. Hole in one: Still waiting
  9. Golf Travel: I played in KS, MO, IA, WI, AR, and NM this year.

Favorite Courses

  1. Whistling Straits
  2. Black Mesa
  3. Shoal Creek

New Courses to Me

Whistling Straits, Black Mesa, Turkey Creek, Belle Vista-Highlands, Ole Hawthorne

Best Round

Tournament at Shoal Creek.

Best Shot

This was tough to pick. I had more birdies this year than in the previous 5 season combined.  None of them really stick out.

Most Disappointing Round

Blackwolf Run was a disappointment. Swing never felt good, ended up DFL.

Goals for 2016

  1. Perform better in majors: I’ve played only 4 majors so far and it is time to play to my potential. I will play 2 or 3 this year to give me more opportunity.
  2. 9 GIR/Round: This is attainable
  3. Break 80 in a tournament: There are several courses in 2016 that will provide good opportunities for this: Prairie Highlands, Falcon Lakes and Falcon Ridge.
  4. Get Tour Index to 16: I have a long way to go, but I can do this if the season starts well.
  5. Hole in one: Still hoping.
  6. Keep focus: I had some trouble keeping my focus especially when I had a difficult playing partner. One in particular talked constantly through the round making it impossible to focus.
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2013 Golf Year in Review

This was an interesting year for me and my game. Back in March I had a lesson with my instructor and we agreed that I needed to work on the mental side of the game. My swing was fine, the problem was it didn’t hold up under pressure. It was the first lesson I had where I didn’t walk away with drills to work on fixing an issue with my swing. My swing wasn’t perfect, but it worked. I’ve noticed this when I was on the range. My swing does what I want for the most part. I would spend an hour hitting balls and not feel a need to tweak my swing.
The trouble was handling the pressure in the tournaments. I’d get to the first tee and my swing would be tight and not feel anything like it did on the range the day before. I’d spend the next 18 trying to get the feel back.  One of the things my instructor gave me was visualization. I would focus on visualizing part of my swing, either the target or the feel, it made handling the pressure easier and easier to maintain focus. The visualization started after a couple bad tournaments.  I had 7 tournaments left on the schedule and I decided to restart my season from that point. I set goals for those tournaments, score less than 90, 32 putts or less, 9 GIR, etc. I’m really proud of how I did these tournaments. I had 7 of 9 rounds at 90 or less, 32 putts or less in 4 rounds and beat my tournament scores at 5 courses. My scoring average in those tournaments was 88 which is 5 strokes better than my season long average.
The highlight of the season came at the final tour event in KC, the tour’s City Championship at Shoal Creek. The first round was good. I had a little trouble off the tee, but my approaches and short game were excellent. I wasn’t making many putts and complained to one of the other players about it. He commented that I shouldn’t complain as I was leaving myself a tap in on every hole. On 10 and 11 I had 40′ and 30′ putts which I put to within 6″, including one that lipped out. I had one of my best shots on 16. Wallace hit his approach first and put his ball to 5′ from about 90 yards. I went next from 70 yards and put my ball inside his about 3′ from the hole. We both converted the birdies on that hole. I played the back nine really well, shooting a 40 for 86 overall, which beat my best tournament score at Shoal by 7 strokes. I was in third, four strokes back from the leader and three behind the guy in second. On Sunday I played with the two leaders. I started with a bogey streak and didn’t feel like I was very sharp. The leaders had some trouble of their own. At the turn I had narrowed the gap but was still behind by a stroke with a 43. I don’t track my own score but as I played the back nine I realized I was playing a great round. I had a string of pars with a birdie mixed in. On 18 I hit my worst shot of the tournament but still got a double, putting up a 38 (+3) on the back for an 81. My previous best tournament score at any course was 86 which I had three times. My 86-81 gave me a one shot victory and my first win in the Jones flight. I was very pleased with how I handled the pressure. Even though I didn’t know what my score was, I was aware of how well I was playing and that I might be in the lead. On the back nine I had 4 GIR and 14 putts. I felt the pressure on the putts for the last three holes. On 16 my first putt of 25′ left me at 6′. A 6′ putt isn’t a gimme but I made the par. On 17 my tee shot went a little long and I chipped to 4′. I had to back away from the putt as the nerves were getting to me. I sunk the putt for an up and down. On 18 after the bad tee shot, the approach going right, I chipped to 6′. Again I felt the pressure, more because the hole wasn’t going well and I could end up spoiling a good round. I sunk the putt for 4 putts in the final three holes. Being able to handle the pressure is something I will take with me to future tournaments.
In my next tournament, the Iowa tour championship at the Tournament Club of Iowa, I had another good tournament. I started the first round well, but ran into trouble on the last few holes of the front 9. At the turn I sat in the cart and tried to clear my mind and get my focus back.  I started a string of pars on the back. One of my playing partners nearly jinxed me after my 4th par in a row by commenting on it. I managed to make a 5th par, but on 15 I put up a double. I followed the double up with three more pars for a 38 (+2) on the back, with 8 pars and 8 GIR. My 87 for the first tied me for 2nd. The second round was tougher. It was much hotter and I struggled with my focus all day.  I did better on the front than I day before, but played poorly on the back, ending with a 94 and a third place finish.
The mechanical change I had this season was for chipping and putting. My instructor got me to change to chipping with an 8 iron. At first I had trouble judging the speed of 8 iron chips, but with practice it became natural.  Now it is a nice weapon for getting up and down.
The bigger change was to my putting routine. Previously I’d spend a lot of time lining up my putts with intermediate targets. I never seemed to improve my putting with this technique, so my instructor scrapped it. Now I visualize what the putt will do, stand over the ball with my eyes on the target line, aim the putter then take my stance. This is more feel based and relies on my ability to visualize the break. The results have been good. In my first tournament with the new technique I had 29 putts. Both days at Shoal Creek I had 32 putts and only one three putt for the two days. I have so much more confidence with my short game now.
I also found that I was hitting my irons off the toe.  I used some impact tape and I was consistently on the toe. I changed my address and started hitting it on the sweet spot.  The biggest benefit was an additional 10-15 yards.  I’ve never been the kind of golfer seeking more distance, except with the driver.  Finding the additional distance made a big difference to my game. I’m taking one less club on most shots and that gives me more confidence.  Hitting a 6 instead of a 5 or a choked down 4 is a lot surer shot.  I’m also seeing more spin on the greens.
I believe my course management is improved. When I look at the scorecard I check the distances and think about what will be a comfortable distance for my shot into the green. Then I figure out how to get there. If the fairway is generous, I’ll leave myself 70 yards, if not, I’ll go back to a pitching wedge or 9 iron distance. I was talking with another player before a tournament and he was worried about the course. When he looked at the layout he only saw the trouble, trees on the right, water on the left, bunkers in front of every green. I was surprised by this as I never think that much about the trouble. It may change my club off the tee so I have a higher percentage shot and the best chance to get a green in reg. I have been able to focus on the swing and the target and not get distracted by the other things.
2013 Goals
1. Win my flight. I managed to win my flight, though only because the guy who looked like he would win was promoted to the next flight.
2. 32 putts/round. Close, down to 33 putts this year.
3. 9 GIR/round. I started at 5, ended with 6.
4. 10 fairways/round. I averaged 8.5/round, so I am getting better.
5. < 2 penalties/round. I was just over 2/round so there was improvement. This was a bigger issue before.
6. Tour index of 16. I made progress going from 19.8 to 17.3 and I am headed in the right direction.
7. Tour scoring average below 90. I didn’t make this one, down to 93.7, a stroke better than last season.
8. Hole in one. Still waiting.  I did win closest to the hole in two tournaments.
Favorite courses:
1. Shoal Creek — can’t wait to play again
2. Sand Creek Station
3. Coldwater Links
4. The Preserve at Rathbun Lake
New courses to me:
Stonebridge Meadows, Coldwater Links, Sand Creek Station, Tomahawk Ridge, Cardinal Hill, Lakewood Oaks
Best round:
See tournament at Shoal Creek
Best shot:
Shoal Creek no. 16 (see above).  Also in the first round at TCI on 18 I had a challenging shot. The 18th hole is a tough one with a pond running up the left and bunkers/tall grass on the right. I had 172 yards to the pin.  I hit a 6 iron and it flew perfect, right at the flag. It left me a 12’ uphill putt.
Most disappointing round:
The tournament at Prairie Highlands. This is a course I’ve always played well. Not this day, trouble off the tee, couldn’t putt and 5 penalties.
Goals for 2014:
1. Earn promotion to the Sarazen flight. This might be the toughest. I need to lower my tour index to below 16.0. I have been playing to my handicap in tournaments lately so this will take overall improvement. This isn’t a case a where I have some bad scores weighing down my index.  I need to lower my tour index by 1.4 strokes, which is doable.
2. Tour scoring average below 87. If I want the promotion, I will need this too.
3. 9 GIR/round. This will improve my scoring.
4. Break 80 in a tournament. I got close this year. It is only a matter of time.  I will put up a good front and back and beat this. I can see this happening at Prairie Highlands or Shoal Creek.
5. Play in the Nationals. I’ve never played in the National Championships, even though I have qualified multiple times. Sawgrass here I come.
6. Have some golf travel. I didn’t travel this year at all. Next year will include trips to AZ, a couple of majors and maybe CO or NM.

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Tiffany Greens

On the 14th I played the GC AmTour stop at Tiffany Greens.  I had played this course only once before and was impressed.  Water comes into play on multiple holes and the setup is anything but easy.  The fairways are generous but bad shots are punished with thick, deep rough, trees and bunkers.

The first hole is a par 5 with a large pond.  The fairway is huge, but the second shot will often have 200+ yards to the green or a shorter distance to bail out left on the second fairway.  In watching the group ahead of us, two put their ball in the water and a third put three (going for the green each time).  I teed off first and hit my drive down the left side of the fairway.  Thee tees we were playing were 480 yards that day.  My ball was near the end of the fairway with 170 yards to the center of the green.  I couldn’t have played my ball better.  I picked my 180 club for my second shot and aimed to the left side of the green. My shot was a little thin and too low to get over the pond.  I took my penalty drop and aimed further left.  My shot ended up about 15 yards left of the green.  A chip and a two putt ended with a double bogey.  I got in a pattern of trading of pars and double bogeys.  The par 3’s were my downfall that day.  I played the four at +11 and all had penalty shots.  I couldn’t get off the tee on the easiest shots on the course.  The tee shots were either fat or big pushes.  As discouraging as that was, I was as encouraged by the rest of my play.  On the par 4’s I was +6 and the par 5’s +4.  I had 8 pars on the day for a total of 93.  My best stat of the day: 13 of 14 fairways.  My driver was my favorite club of the day.My best shot of the day was off the tee on 18.  The hole plays downhill was a dogleg right and a tall tree guarding the corner.  I planned to hit a fade around the tree.  I struck the ball well and ended up in the fairway at the bottom of the hill with about 110 yards to the pin.

I ended up second in my flight, losing by one stroke.  In spite of finishing second I feel pretty good about my round.  I saw a lot of progress.  I got on the greens with my short irons/wedges better than I have been recently.

I have two tournaments left, the Iowa State Championship and the KC City Championship.  I’ll be hitting the range a lot over the next two weeks to work my swing.  After Sunday it is clear I need to work on my par 3 play.  I think the problem is swinging too hard.  I should club up and swing easy.

I’ll report back on my play in the championships.  Wish me luck.

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Welcome back

Things look a little different here at patrickemerson.com. My old hosting service came up for renewal a couple of weeks ago and I considered how I was using my websites. In case you hadn’t noticed, my posts have been infrequent. It wasn’t worth the annual fee to retain my old hosting service. I have moved to a new service that is less powerful but cheaper.

I am also changing my approach to my blog. I will post things I want to share and avoid certain topics. I will not talk about politics. The Internet is a political echo chamber. If you have the same ideology as me, none of my posts will be news to you. If you have a different ideology nothing I say will change your mind. And if you are an independent, you probably don’t pay enough attention to politics anyway.

I will not post anything about my family members in show business. They certainly don’t need promotion from me. When Michael got the part on Lost my readership grew considerably, mostly people hoping to get some info that isn’t available otherwise. I was never comfortable with that especially when some of them grew to expect sometime out of me. So no scoops from me and I probably will never mention them again.

My posts will be about other things that are important to me: pop culture and golf. I used to have a website for the Iowa Hawkeyes but I didn’t have the time to commit to doing it well, so it is retired. I will be starting a new site just for golf, talking about equipment, courses and the tour.

I’m not bringing over my historical posts from the old hosting service. This is a fresh start. I will be playing with the design and features for the site over the next few weeks until I find something I like. Stay tuned.