July 24th The satisfaction of playing well and not winning is an attribute that golf delivers more adeptly than any other game of skill. When a player has that experience in a round it can take a little while to absorb the effect and realise the benefits to your game. From the practise round at the Millicent Club on Tuesday in preparing for the challenge this course was going to be to my ability, that feeling of something special was established for the Open yesterday in my game.
My game plan was to use the “Alamo Strategy” do nothing heroic and go and get help while the rest hold the fort... in simple terms do nothing that would bring risk into the game play. My practise round established the game plan of total concentration for accuracy and avoid journey’s into the trees off the tee and along the fairways. The second part was to go for the greens in regulation whenever possible and at least get on in one shot over regulation. The short game was pretty much in the hands of the golfing gods... as much as I have been practising pitching and putting to a greater level the past two weeks my execution of this and ability in reading greens of the calibre at Millicent was the weakness that could not be rectified in time.
With a front nine 47 and a back nine 50 the gross 97 (77 nett) I am not certain what the grade handicap cut of points were. I am assuming that 20 had me in “B” grade (for the Millicent Open) where the two scores had me in 7th place (gross) and 4th place (nett) in “C” grade it was a 2nd (gross) and tied 2nd (nett). For my first ever “B” grade ranking on a course which was a true test of my mettle I am a very happy golfer this morning. There was only one totally unexpected occurrence on the day which had an effect on my game play. Although it was a typically cool winter day with not even a zephyr of wind (unusual) I was hitting 7-pw irons 10-15 metres more than usual. The first time it happened on the 4th hole I hit a six iron after deciding it was not quite a five iron. It was not a one off beautifully hit shot just normal and it wend 15m + long over the green. An up-hill shot to boot and I could only assume it bounced well as the ground was not muddy. Even so a little mental note was made and by chance the next hole was a par three 161m a four iron usually but with the previous hole in mind and seeing that falling short would not be too harmful took out a six iron and sure enough had the distance!
On top of this eventuality the greens had me beaten all day, being quick and over shooting several putts for the day another fault was pitching on the green and the ball which placed that well on my home course would be in a 1-2m distance of the hole just kept on rolling leaving 3-6 m putts instead. here was an example of why playing other courses develops your skill. At the Robe course playing the pitch and run where the ball hits off the green is very risky as the green collars are very spongy uneven grass and the ball will often pop up and stop so I choose to hit the green, at the Millicent course pitching onto the collar and letting the ball run to the green is a playable option. Unfortunately it was not possible for me to adapt to that and so had to suffer the results of hitting the green and the ball rolling far away from the hole. To end up with a gross 97 and to lose a ball on the 18th and have to play a provisional after the only slice into the trees all round was a good result. The course did not beat me but instead gave out the most enjoyable challenge to my ability and yes I will return to play Millicent again as a benchmark of skill. Especially as my short game practise continues along and improves.
This morning as I write this, it is a prelude to heading out and playing in todays competition on my home course, in fact the first time playing two succesive 18 hole competative rounds is too good a challenge to ignore. Plus satisfy the curiosity of putting into practise some of yesterday’s experience is too tempting to ignore. Especially the realisation that hitting the ball accurately is not beyond my ability and that it has been laziness and making errors off the fairways are not punished on many of the holes as opposed to all of them at courses like Millicent. Thankyou for your time and attention, “Hit ‘em straight all” , Geoff