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 ;-)