Wednesday, 13 April 2016

1st cut of the season

At the start of April we held our first stroke play competition called The American Cup, it was the first time we played from our back tees since well before Christmas and on a full course along with our 5 new greens now all in play.  Due to the deluge of wet weather that not only we have experienced personally as a golf club here at Coventry Golf Club, but golf clubs up and down the whole country have been suffering, the course was going to play very long and tough with very little roll on the fairways, then add to that a stiff cold, damp wind and it was going to be a testing day for some, especially on some of our long par 4's where it was going to take a very good, long second shot into the greens.

So, I took a deep breathe after a few practice swings and watched the group before us march off in a formation similar to the Red Arrows, one off to the left, one to the right, and one down the middle, I stepped up to the 1st tee and I looked down the fairway with my heart pumping, the season was starting, will my practice and hard work over the winter fall into place, oh my, it looked a long way even though we were only about another 30 yards further back, I really need to get my first drive away cleanly!

Just as I had been doing in my last few rounds where a naughty fade/slice has crept into my game, I drove off to the right which with the tees now much further back brings the tree's and pond into play on the right which is where we drive over and through off the 7th tee, a lucky bounce off a high branch ensued leaving me a 4 iron to punch low back down the fairway under some overhanging branches and leaving me a chance to reach the green in 3, which I did, and a with a nice steady 2-putt I got my par and was up and running.

A bogey on the 2nd due to not finding the fairway again but this time pulling my drive left in an attempt to draw the ball around the dogleg saw me blocked out from the green, I took my medicine and chipped out but at a decent angle so I could find the green with my 3rd shot, which I did, another 2-putt for bogey.

A nice regulation par on our 3rd which is so different off the back tees, but, I then had a wobble on our index 2 4th hole, my drive was nicely up the middle but a little over confidence due to a steady start saw me go for the green with a big 4 iron, in a moment of madness and forcing the shot I topped into the fairway bunker immediately to my left, I got out OK but then with my 4th I shot got under the ball with my wedge due to the soft ground and came up short and straight into greenside bunker! again I got out OK and a 2-putt put an ugly 7 on my card!

Time to put that hole behind me and concentrate on only what was in front of me now, a couple of bogeys on the next 2 holes and then a nice par on the 7th and then another couple of bogeys saw me turn with a gross 44 (par 35)  which was 1 under handicap in some tough conditions and on a course playing very long, so I was in good shape, but our back 9 is much tougher.

A great start to my back 9 with a par on the 10th and the spring in my step had returned, but it was very short lived, a huge snap hook on the 11th tee saw my ball wet, my 3rd off the tee saw me block long into the trees on the dogleg, I then got greedy and tried to punch a low shot through a gap, and failed! I then chipped out sideways, found the green with my 6th shot and a 2-putt then put an even worse 8 on my card!!

It was a lonely walk through the trees to the 12th tee, I had a little word with myself but I didn't want what had just happened to ruin the rest of my round, even though I knew there were some tough holes to come, I have the shots and know the game is in their, let's get back on track and finish strong, I was saying to myself.

A bogey on the 12th after a decent drive but I missed the green with my approach just to the right, quite close to the pond on what must be my clubs feature hole, a delicate chip and another 2-putt and after a horror show on the last hole, a bogey was accepted.

Back to back regulation pars followed on the par 5 13th with the river running alongside the fairway and tucking up quite close to the green and then another par on our Si1 14th hole with a great drive up level with the bunker on the dogleg and then a strong 4 wood into the green, what a feeling that was, especially with what had happened only 3 holes back.  I had a little wry smile to myself, and my playing partners, both very low single handicap players smiled and I could see that they were pleased for me, so, it was now to what I believe statistically is our toughest hole and the toughest of our par 3's, it's a very unassuming 200 yard plus hole, but it can break you, but a bogey it was and if offered that on the tee I'd snap your arm off for it, another bogey on the uphill par 5 16th hole into wind that looked like a runway it was that long, but again a decent drive and then two (2) big 4 woods saw me just on the green in regulation but my first and only 3-putt meant I came away with a bogey.

I knew in my head I pulled a good fistful of shots back and the 8 on the 11th was now a distant memory, I found the green on our long par 3 17th hole and a par was in the bag, so now it was a spirited walk to the 18th tee, with the clubhouse on the horizon I knew all I had to do was stay out of trouble and out of the treelined tight fairway, if you offered me a bogey now I'd have taken it, I'm not sure why as I only went and parred it in regulation, a great drive up to the 150 yard marker which off the back stones I didn't think I'd make, this left an uphill approach to a middle flag so I clubbed up to a 6 iron to stay away and carry the greenside bunkers and hit it so sweet it landed softly at the back of the green, another 2-putt and a great par to finish on.

What a rollercoaster round, a nervy start, an early wobble then a horror show on the 11th, but with 5 pars on the back 9 alone which saw me only 3 over gross with the 11th taken out, it was the best I'd played our back 9 since joining only 12 months ago.  A nett 68 (par 73) saw me take 2nd place in our opening stroke-play competition, a cut of 2.9 shots followed due to the 2 poor holes being reduced to nett double bogeys for handicap purposes and The Year of the Fish is well and truly underway.  

I can't wait for some decent dry weather and firm fairways, I believe I have so much more under the bonnet and hopefully a few wins will come my way this season, although 2nd place and a cut for the opening stroke-play competition is a great start.

I've booked a lesson to tighten up my drives and I'm getting on the practice ground to work on some different chipping options due to the soft ground and sliding under the ball too much at times.

Thank you for reading and following this seasons journey everyone, that's another 2.9 shots closer Homer ;-)


Sunday, 3 April 2016

Playing for my club's B-team

When I joined Coventry Golf Club in February last year (2015), I joined the club's B-team, it's a great way to meet new members and play some excellent local courses for less than you can with your County Card and usually with a great meal thrown in too.  Last season I only got to play 5 matches before I injured myself and was then out of action for the whole season, however, I never lost a match and was unbeaten up until that time.

Our B-team is now underway for 2016 with the traditional start against our Coggs (Seniors).  It's always a great day and although it can be seen as a bit of a fun, it's very competitive as the bragging rights are extremely important to both teams.

So, early this month we played against the Coggs and duly lost the day 4-1, we also lost this match last season but not by such a large margin, although I did win my own match last year and came 2nd overall in the stableford points, again this season I was the only person to win my match!

Our first competitive match was against Ladbrook Park last week, my opponents were not dissimilar in handicaps but as soon as the lad off 20 bombed his drive down the first fairway probably 50 yards further than I've ever been even with my Sunday best, I knew it was going to be a tough day!  It soon became apparent that even though he had a huge drive in his locker, his short game didn't match up to it, but his partner came in very well when he was out of the hole, they continued to dovetail very well and it was everything to hang on to their shirt tails.

As we approached the turn I found myself 3-down and the young lad seemed to grow in confidence, we halved 10 & 11 but then I parred 12, 13 & 14 in regulation and got the match back to all square, it was during those holes I noticed the young lad wobble, he played very well off the front foot but he didn't cope very well with being pegged back and started to spray his drives and took on too many hero shots putting himself out of the holes quite quickly.

The tough 15th long par 3 beckoned, I was just right of the green pin high and chipped down to 3ft from the pin and marked my ball, the young opponent was short behind the fairway bunker and chipped down left of the pin but it rolled away 20ft away from the flag, my partner was 6ft from the pin in 2 but had a shot and the other opponent was out of the hole already, so it was the young lad to putt first and he drained it, such was their delight after being pegged back for the last 3 holes, we suddenly out of the blue witnessed an American style premature celebration of jumping up & down, high fives and over the top scenes of jubilation, did they not realise that my partner was still putting for the hole and had 2 shots for the half from only 6 feet? So, a half it was, and they seemed suitably pleased to stop the rot, although I'm not sure what the scenes would have been like had that been a winning putt for the match, I think we had disturbed a Hornets nest ;-)

Anyway, it was a decent match with good company as always and we finished all square with the match halved, after chasing the game for the first 11 holes I was very relieved not to have lost it, but we unfortunately lost the match against their club 3.5 - 2.5.

My 2nd B-team match to date was away to Leamington & County on Thursday, this course has had some substantial changes to it since last season so it was a little confusing as the walks from green to tee were a little strange at times.  Anyway, I was back paired with my usual partner from last season and whom I'd played with in the recent Greensomes competition.

Well to say I'd sliced my first tee shot would be kind, it was way right, but luckily there was a decent gap in the trees to punch my 5 iron down and I duly found the fairway and was comfortably back in play. I secured the half and my partner, Pete secured the win, 1-up and a good start.  A new par 3 next playing 175 yards into a slight breeze, I found the green with my 4 iron and we were suddenly 2-up after a nice par.

My driving off to the right returned a few times during the match but I recovered very well, my long irons really did get me back into play, so well that on the 6th which is a steep uphill drive which then turns into a left to right downhill dogleg to a well protected green, I drove to the right leaving myself 173 yards out the rough but I could just see the green, I composed myself and struck a great 4 iron to 6 inches from the pin for a birdie, what a feeling that strike was!  We went onto to win the match 6&5 shaking hands on the 13th :D

Looking forward to my next B-team match against Maxstoke on Tuesday and hopefully keep my unbeaten record  of 8/8 going for as long as possible, am I the Ian Poulter of Coventry in Matchplay ;-)

With my stroke play match on Saturday off the back tees for the first time and in testing rainy conditions and shooting a great nett 68 (par 73), I could be reporting playing in the A-team next season ;-)  #Dreamer

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Club Matches.......

Over the past few weeks I've played in some of the club's early matches that traditionally kick-start our season, the first being a Foursomes Medal where the top 16 pairs go forward to the knockout rounds.  I was kindly asked to partner a very steady and great striker of the ball 7 handicapper, and I duly accepted, we were allocated 13 shots between us and so off we set.

Dave, my partner, told me just to play my own game and not to worry about him, although easy to say, you can't help be conscious of putting your single figure playing partner in the trees or in a bunker, so at times I didn't take on some of the long approach shots into the green, and although I think I did play my own game for most of the round which surprisingly meant I only put him into the trees once, although his drive did leave me in an awkward position to be fair, but then again I should and would have normally chipped out onto the fairway, but I didn't, but hey, if I had of chipped out I wouldn't have seen a club throw and kicking of the golf bag when he didn't get out first time and the ball rebounded off a large Oak deeper back into the woods!

so overall I think I contributed well and we played well together and comfortably qualified with a Nett 70.5, which if not for a couple of silly throwaway shots I believe we could have troubled the winners with their Nett 65.

The following week was a Greensomes, my B-team partner of last season asked me to play so we teamed up again, we were unbeaten last season in our first 5 B-team matches with him before I injured myself, so, we knew each other well, got on and played well off each other, so, in the back of my mind I fancied ourselves and was up for this as I knew I was currently playing very well.  The 2 opponents in our 4-ball came second in the foursomes the week before and straight away as they both drove the ball very well and split the fairway, you could see and sense they were good together and had played together for some years, in fact, it turned out that 1 (one) of them had been at the club for 59 years!

We had 17 shots allocated and our opponents had 13.4, so I was keeping track of the scores in my head and using them as a barometer knowing we had to be inside 3 shots of them to win, or at least, beat them!

On the turn we had used up less than half our allocation of shots so I knew we were in good shape, but a double on 16th (we started on the 7th), a bogey on the 17th & 18th saw us slip behind quite quickly against our opponents.  We battled on and although we were both playing well, our opponents were draining long putts for pars and the odd birdie which was slowly killing us off,  the 1st & 2nd were both double bogies after finding bunkers and that saw us drop too many shots in quick succession, however, I then played some great approach shots on 3, 4 & 5 after taking my partners drives which gave us the opportunity to par those holes and bring us back into contention, unfortunately we bogied the 6th, our last hole against their par, which again was a huge 30ft putt, so it wasn't good enough on the day for us but overall we put in a decent shift and finished with a credible Nett 68 against our opponents, who went on to win the day's competition with a respectable Nett 65.4.

I know I previously reported I didn't like these kind of formats, it's very difficult to get into any kind of rhythm or tempo when taking alternate shots, you can find that you're not putting or chipping for ages but then suddenly are required to do so at a critical time, so, it's a very testing format but on these 2 occasions, I really enjoyed them.