Friday, June 04, 2010

Golf - Championship qualifying rounds

First qualifying round for the Club Handicap Championship was played this weekend. With a solid rain falling overnight softening up the course and more rain and 30 knot winds forecast for the day there is no way to predict how many golfers the field would be. Let alone the playing conditions, general consensus for most players was that “rain is not a problem, and the wind isn’t here yet so I will play.” As it turned out the forecast wind did not come with the force predicted and after the first nine the rain had stopped. Even so it was an entertaining day on the course, after summer the season has well and truly broken and it is goodye to those drives that run 50+ metres after hitting the fairway.

Playing in groups of 3 it was interesting at the end to see that ours with two nett 76’s and a 77 had qualified 6,7 and 8. I have been told that it is going to be the Best 16 qualify for the finals, still want to confirm that again to be certain as there is a number of players who did not play that are good chances to qualify in the next round. Given the conditions I was willing to accept anything from a nett 72-76, so I scraped in. With a scrappy 46 on the front nine, I was confident that making a charge to get a 72 or less was possible. It is still a little surprising to be sitting here, not having been back playing for 12 months yet and admitting that my confidence is such that I think like that during a round. Even more so is the realisation that in the past 3-4 months, playing aggressive golf, attacking greens from 150m in, pitching and putting to get the ball in the hole every time (hahah not succeeding of course) is now my standard game. It has been so subtle and again seems to have came from the two coaching lessons in January and February, one on driving and the other pitching and putting. With regard to the round just played dropping two 5 metre plus putts for a birdie and par and pitching well enough to not even have to bother about the fear of three putting is what kept my scrappy front nine on track. Getting a 52 on the back nine was the result of three bad drives and three bad fairway shots, which included with the three bad drives on the front nine which all required a chip out of trees to play the third shows where my score was affected worst.

Not the slightest bit disheartened though, I am a 22 handicapper trying to get to 18 and with a very slight chance for 16-15 at the end of the year. Absolutely no fantasies about my ability be sure of that, reality suits me well enough and keeps me happy on the golf course. Sometimes to much reality, if that is possible. The past couple of weeks I have really been putting in an effort to sharpen up my fairway shots, hitting more greens in regulation is a must do to get the goals set. Not accurate enough yet, getting very close to the greens though and the improved pitching especially, plus more consistent putting has been valuable of late. In fact being so satisfied with this I have neglected my driving practise. What a bloody dickhead! Figured out my last rounds stats this morning and a 66% success rate for my drives. That 33% failure was balls in trees/rough and requiring chips to the fairway for second shots plus penalties in some cases. When I average a 75% to 80% driving success rate I play to my Handicap, 80-90% I break it. Yet here I’ve been off in lala land, so pleased that I can finally pitch and putt decently and trying to improve ‘shots at the green’, while neglecting bloody driver practise which sets up the way to play a hole in the first place.

Next qualifying round is the 25th of April so 3 weeks to tune my game up and try to improve the ranking for play-offs. The top three qualifiers at the minute is made up of a 28,19 and 26 handicap players, and having played with them all deserve serious consideration as the potential champion. The 28 handicapper is at that tipping off point where he is going to score nett 65’s. A few club members have not given him any credence as his playing method is committed to hitting hard and long. Drives of 260+ m and 8 iron to Sand Wedge from 150 m in. In 12 months I have played several rounds with him and seen his consistency improve, a golfer who never holds back, always entertaining and now getting less erratic is well suited for the Club Handicap Championship. The 19 handicapper is consistent and has a great match play attitude, powerful off the tee with a good approach and short game, only his putting lets him down at times. The the guy on 26, returning to the game after 14 years and in less that three months down to 26. His qualifying round of nett 72 included 5 Out of Bounds penalties! His biggest strength is his weakness, hits a long ball 270m to 300m, thankfully the shots stray off the course because he comes in with mid to low twenties putts and has a good short game. The rest of the field includes past Champions, a smattering of single figure handicappers and a couple more consistent 27+ golfers. The first and third placed though are of particular interest to me as they are players I would have to give strokes to in match play and have a game that can definitely beat me.

Planning a trip to the Blue Lake course on Sunday 4th April to play in the DK Edwards trophy, best 6 of 10 rounds on regional courses. I find that a good way to tune my game is to get off the home patch and have to play a different game on another course so this is a great way to do so. Thankyou for your time and attention.

“Hit ‘em straight all”

Thankyou for your time and attention, Geoff

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