The trials and tribulations of a club golfer frustrated by their current handicap and will, by hard work and dedication during 2018 achieve Category 2 status this season, I'm still coming for you Homer!
Just a little catch-up for my followers, not a great deal has been going on due to some work getting in the way and with so many golfing outings coming up, it's that kind of time when it's important to build up the brownie points at home as those golfing trips and away days are about to come about thick and fast!
I'm still working on and trying to introduce the changes my assistant Pro has shown me and they are definitely starting to pay dividends, in that, I no longer cut or fade the ball which on my course can be very destructive, well it's equally destructive if you hook it too much also but hey, I just don't like the fade come slice shot shape and so it's almost gone from my game now, although I wouldn't mind having it back on demand for those left to right doglegs, but we can't have everything.
Two weekend strokeplay competitions have seen me me pick up another couple of 0.1's so I've got a shot back as I now sit on 17.5 (18), I'm not overly concerned as I constantly hear that you should only play to your handicap or better 33% of the time, so with only 5 comps under my belt since my 3 shot cut, I'm confident of a couple of cuts before the season is finished, and if they trigger an ESR (extended score reduction) then getting down to 15 or lower is a real target and that's without putting too much pressure on myself to achieve.
Only played 1 B-team match which was away to Olton, it's a great course in the suburbs of Solihull and all the rumours of selling up for housing, is, well rubbish! The course was in excellent condition and the food and company as always was superb. I played very well, in fact I finished below handicap with a nett 70 and even though I came out the traps flying with a series of pars, I was 3 down from the off! I'm starting to feel the wrath of the higher handicapper, although technically I'm still one myself, but giving shots away to 24 handicappers and then watching them have a purple day where my pars barely got a half and rarely won a hole, well it's strange, frustrating and funny combined now being on the other side of this situation, which I used to enjoy myself.
I just played in a 3-man team Texas Scramble with my normal weekly playing partners, were a good mix of handicaps ranging from 7 to myself at 18, 5 drives each and 3 wild and we had 8 shots. We were having a very steady round, bagging birdies and pars until we had our 1 and only bogey on the 15th leaving us with a very respectable finishing score of a nett 61 points. Back to the clubhouse for the banter and deconstruction of the round over a few beers and then the captain picks up the microphone and announces the results, "in 4th place with 60.8 points" Noooooo, we missed out by 0.2 points, just 1 putt, or that bloody single bogey on the 15th, Arghhhhhhh!
The usual suspects whom we never see at weekends in Medals or Stableford competitions took the spoils with a nett 56 points! I'm not bitter ;-)
I'm entertaining a friend today who is visiting my course for the first time as it's going to be our home course in the League of Dubai Matchplay Pairs Competition and he needs to familiarise himself with it, it's playing great and looking fantastic so hopefully he will be suitably impressed, he will be joining me in our Sunday morning sweep/roll-up.
Then it's off to play at Beau Desert in an Open on the Bank Holiday Monday, it was funny on Friday when my wife asked what we were doing together over the Bank Holiday weekend, I explained my golfing arrangements and then asked "what was she doing", it didn't go down too well and I got "the look"!
It's been nearly a month since our first medal in April that rewarded me with my 1st cut (3 shots) of the season, playing 3 shots lower and no longer receiving a shot on every hole, never mind 2, certainly makes you think a bit more, so, quite a bit has happened, and not happened since then!
I've played in 3 (three) B-team matches winning 2 of them, so yes, I've now lost my unbeaten record playing for my B-team since February 2015! That loss was hard fought but it was the first time I found myself on the other side of the fence playing against 2 x 19 handicap players so I was giving shots away, the boot was firmly on the other foot and it was tough as pars weren't good enough to win holes and birdies at times became halves! As always though they were great company and there was plenty of banter, especially when 1 of them, an ex-club captain fell into our pond on the 14th as he didn't want to take a drop, what dedication as he took his shot gingerly standing on the reed beds only to fall backwards, it was a shame I was the closest and had to run to his aid, otherwise the camera would have been out in a shot and he'd have become famous across all social media sites ;-)
I've had a lesson with my assistant Pro Sam Dodds as a fade come slice had crept into my game and I didn't like it, we played 6 holes and he observed me for the first 3 and then deconstructed me on the 12th tee, he made some adjustments to my swing and when I got them as he wanted, they became effortless and long but more importantly, they were either straight or a nice draw. We played on and a few more tips followed in keeping the ball low when under branches which is very useful around a treelined tight course like mine, also some 3/4 shots into greens by clubbing up which I've used to great effect since that lesson. It's still all work in progress but I'm getting there, a change in your swing at the start of the season is a little frightening, but if I want to play better within myself and reduce this handicap more, I've got to put the work and practice in and make the changes.
I've then had 3 strokeplay Medal comps and 1 Stableford, the April Medal being only 2 days after my lesson, not great timing but with competitions now in full flow there was never going to be an ideal time, as such it wasn't unusual for my results in these comps to have suffered due to me being in a position of change, but like they say, it's got to get worse before it gets better, so although I'm disappointed with those results and scores, there were lots of positives I could take from them and I'm confident it will all come together soon, however, the nett result is I've gone up 0.3, luckily 1 of the Medals became a non-qualifier.
I then went away with a group of guys from the club for a 2-day tour to Seacroft in Skegness, what a great trip and an even better course. As we arrived the wind was already up on this testing links course, a full breakfast after a few hours driving and it was off to the 1st tee. I really came out of the traps flying with a nice par on the 1st to settle me down, especially as I was playing with people I've only seen around the club and not played with before, unfortunately that par was quickly followed by a blob (no score) on a tough 2nd hole with a very small raised green, but then I got another par on the 3rd and a pattern was starting to emerge! I turned with 19 points with 2 non scoring holes so was playing well, especially with all my swing changes and thoughts coupled with a tough links course with no room for errors. The back 9 wasn't as good, I only recorded 12 points with another 2 non scoring holes, I really couldn't get to grips with the par 3's, the wind was tricky to navigate, the greens small and OOB or wispy grass just yards from any landing areas, I need to learn how to compress the ball or launch it lower with confidence and keep it from sailing off in the wind, 31 points on a new course in tricky conditions wasn't a poor show by any stretch and generally I was pleased, but as always, it could have been better!
The 2nd day the weather at the start was more favourable, I wasn't as quick out the traps due to a very late night, or should I say early morning session, not ideal but I was easily lead, or knobbled, 1 of the 2 ;-) I certainly displayed nothing like I did on the first day, it was a struggle, but an enjoyable struggle, well it was until we stood on the raised tee on the 18th and the weather just unloaded on us, a force 10 gale hit us with hail and rain, I felt like I was being shot blasted, you couldn't look up into it, it was painful! It was only 398 yards and I took Driver, 4w, another 4w then an 8i into the green, a 2-putt followed for a single point, what an experience!
I've also just played another round in my Foursomes Matchplay knockout, we have now reached the semi-finals and are awaiting to see who we may play next. I've got a very good steady partner off 7 who if I can put in a good position with my tee shots, he comfortably puts me on the green for birdie putts or we come away with a minimum par, we've played some good opposition up to now but there are some serious contenders to come..
I just recently lost my singles matchplay 2nd round knockout 3&1, I went 3 down in the first 3 holes to two birdies, I then fought back with 2 nice pars in regulation for two wins on the 4th & 5th but missed a great opportunity on the 6th to go all square, it then seesawed back & forth but I never got better than being 1-down, I think if I could have got all square at any time it may have affected him, but it wasn't to be and I'll never know! I actually played the best I had since all my changes, only 2 slight offish drives, 1 being a bit hooky on the 2nd blocking me out and 1 high but straight on the 12th leaving a very long approach shot in, otherwise I drove the ball well, made some excellent pars, my chipping and putting as always is solid, so, how did I lose? I shot 4 under handicap for a nett 69 (par 73) but my opposition was also on song and rarely got into trouble, whereas, although I got into the odd bunker or missed a green in regulation, I scrambled well but just that 1 extra shot meant I had to go for too many long single putts, a very good match, obviously disappointed to have played so well and lost, but I must take the positives forward though.
There's still plenty of time this season to make an impact on my handicap, lots of various competitions to enter, so I'm very hopeful of more cuts to come, especially as my swing changes are becoming more consistent, so watch this space....