Last minute call up

20 08 2010

I got a last minute call up to play in a 4 man team Charity event today at Garstang Golf Club. I thought it would be a nice relaxing game that would give me chance to make sure my game is in shape for the weekend and it turned out to be exactly that as it was 2 scores count per hole so it allowed me to try to hit certain shots into flags that I wouldn’t normally go at and work on other areas of my game during the round.

I played well and we carded a 76 point total as a team which was 4 behind the leaders as I left the clubhouse this afternoon. It was played in tough conditions and was extremely tough when the rain started too!

I played without a 5 wood and had to try and take something off a 3 wood on a couple of occasions but it turned out okay.

Now I’m really looking forward to the weekend and getting some more golf in!!


A bit of money in the back pocket

19 08 2010

After a really good practice session on putting, pitching and chipping(with Holty giving me some quality pointers) last night I was really looking forward to a practice round at Blackburn Golf Club today in preparation for Sundays Revidge Cannon competition, which is a qualifying event for the Single Figure Golfer Northern Order of Merit.

Blackburn is a course I have never played before and as its only around 40 minutes door to door for me I am surprised I haven’t ventured there until now. From what I had heard about the course I was looking forward to the test and testing my back injury to see if I could play 18 holes of golf.

The first hole is an uphill par 4 measuring 279 yards so I hit driver and came up just short of the green on the left,realistically I will hit 3 wood on Sunday as long as there is no dramatic weather. I hit a decent pitch up to the green and made my par after taking two putts on a slightly bumpy and slow green, which is how they all turned out to be (some worse than others!).

The second is a 400 yard par 4 with a dyke running across the fairway at around 250 yards so I hit 3 wood and landed perfectly in the fairway left with a 6 iron into the green which went right and long but I managed to get it up and down to feel pretty good about my game and the course so far.

The Third hole is a 405 yard par 4 with a dyke across the fairway at 235 yards and my tee shot found the trouble however the ball was playable and I progressed it up the fairway before making a bogey. The plan for Sunday is 3 wood off the tee to layup short of the hazard and then hit a long iron to the green.

The Fourth hole is a 481 yard par 5 round the corner right to left at the end with a bunker on the dogleg in the layup area if you dont go for the green in two. I hit a good drive which left me unable to reach the green so I decided to layup, however, the layup found the bunker and I hit the next shot from there coming up just short of the green but getting up and down for my par.

The 5th is a tough up hill par 3 and a double bogey was on the card following the tee shot finding a tough lie on the left side. 4 iron from the tee today but we will see on Sunday how the wind is blowing.

The 6th hole is another uphill hole, this time a par 4 playing every inch and more of its 289 yards. I hit driver but it went too far left and left me stuck with a tree to get over to get to the green. The shot was hit well however it found the left greenside bunker and a bogey was carded after a failure to get up and down out of the sand.

The 7th is a downhill par 4 at 381 yards. I hit driver which left me with a pitch to a target that was well below where i was hitting from. Driver was possibly too much from the tee as 3 wood would give a couple more options but with the greens being receptive you are able to throw the ball at the pin and know it will stop. A par was carded.

The 8th is a steep uphill par 4 again playing long but with a yardage of 301. I hit driver and was left with a pitch to a green sat well above us. The shot went slightly to the right but I managed to get up and down for a par.

The 9th is a longish par 3 surrounded by bunkers and 191 yards from the white tees. I hit 5 iron to 4 foot and rolled the putt in for a birdie 2. Same again in both rounds on Sunday would be perfectly acceptable!

The 10th is a great par 5 measuring 505 yards with the tee up in the hills playing into the fairway which is a long way below, I hit a good drive and a 5 wood layup before dispatching a pitch at the flag and then missing the birdie putt before tapping in the par for a decent par.

The 11th is a par 4 which in my opinion suits a fade with the driver off the tee and is 365 yards on the card, with the green uphill. I had 135 yards left into a slight breeze and found the bunker to the right, flicking my bunker shot out and it landed around 3 feet from the flag however it caught the slope of the green and rolled off the front!, two putts saw my make a bogey 5.

The 12th is a short par 3 at 135 yards however it plays uphill and needs a couple of clubs more than you think on the tee, I hit Pitching wedge as the yardage to the flag was 118, however it wasn’t enough. I got up and down well to card a par.

The 13th is a par 5, 563 yards on the card and the tee shot is a fade off the left side of the tree on the right of the tee box in my opinion. The tee shot went right and meant a chip out was needed before a poor swing with my 5 wood saw me pick up the ball on that hole as my back twinged a little as I went at the 5 wood shot. Tee shot on Sunday is driver without a doubt.

The 14th is a long par 4 at 420 yards and I hit a good drive up the left hand side and then punched a 3 wood into the greenside bunker to the right. A good up and down saw me make par. Tee shot is driver on Sunday.

The 15th is a 370 yard par 4 and I hit driver off the tee down the middle of the fairway, however, a tree protects the green in the fairway from around 80 yards out and I was blocked out and had to fire a sand wedge over the top of it and landed the ball on the front of the green and spun it back on to the fringe. I chipped on and made my putt for par. Tee shot on Sunday is 3 wood to give more room for manoeuvrings around the tree or over it.

The 16th is a short par 3 at 147 yards and I believe many people think this is the course’s signature hole as its quite tight to get to and surrounded by trouble. As it was playing downhill I put a good swing on an 8 iron and unfortunately found the front bunker, but a good shot out of the sand left me with a 6 foot putt, which I holed for par, and brought our doubles matchplay match back to all square after myself and my partner where 3 down at one point.

The 17th is a par 4 measuring 435 yards and I managed to get a long drive away down the middle of the fairway leaving me with 195 yards to the flag, so I decided to punch a 3 wood through the wind. The shot went just to the right of the green but pin high and I managed again to get up and down to get my par and put us one up in the match.

The 18th is a short finishing hole measuring 295 yards and a par 4. The drive off the tee needs to be hit down the left side of the fairway for the best approach to the green, mine went right and I decided to not bother looking for it!. 3 wood off the tee is the best option I believe on Sunday.

With regards to the match, my partner did the business and holed his birdie putt on the last for a 2 up win and £5 a man in our pockets from our opponents!

As usual though the banter was flying and it was a thoroughly enjoyable round at a new course that I am looking forward to playing again at the weekend and hopefully I can play as well as I did today, apart from the 18th tee shot and the 13th, as I believe its a course that suits my eye.

More practice tomorrow, weather permitting and then the Club Medal on Saturday.

Roll on the weekend!

Quick midweek update

18 08 2010

Monday was a no go due to the back injury so I did some work on the mental side of things with some stuff that Andy Morrison had given me.

But as my back wasn’t as bad on Tuesday I decided to go for a few holes and to do some short game work too. I played the first 5 holes with very few problems, hitting some good shots and getting up and down well from any trouble found off the tee. I was 1 over par through 5 which I thought was a decent effort given the injury problems.

On the 6th tee I hit driver for the first time and came up and out of the swing due to my back issues so decided at that point to walk back to the clubhouse and call it a day. The weather was blowing a gale so I decided to go straight home rather than practice putting on a windy putting green.

Plan for tonight is to head down and do plenty of chipping and putting and maybe some longer stuff but priority for today is shortgame.

The story of progress and pain

15 08 2010

With our Club Championship and Club Trophy 36 hole finals yesterday I was disappointed that I had no chance last week to do any work on my swing or short game, the only chance of practice I had was to spend an hour talking to my golf mind performance coach, Andy Morrison, on Thursday evening before having a knock with a few mates on Friday evening in the rain.

I played fairly solid on Friday and was 1 under nett through 16 holes when we ended the round because of the limited light and poor weather, plus our table for dinner was booked and we didn’t want to miss out on a cracking steak and chips!

But back to the session with Andy. We discussed various elements to my game and one of the things that really hit home to me how poor mentally I am with my thought process is when we talked about playing the course in your head when you can’t get to play for real. I can really see the benefits of this as if you put these good shot thoughts into your memory then when you get to the hole for real you have these ‘memories’ to call upon and you can really see the shot in front of you as you have hit it many times in your head. The work with Andy will take time to bed in and for me to create new neural pathways, but I can already see the benefits in my play and am excited future work.

My swing is good enough to get to low singles figures but the two things holding me back have been the mental side of the game and my short game. The short game is not good enough and must be worked on. The mental side I have grasped hold and enjoy the conversations both on the phone and by email with Andy.

With regards to short game, this is the area of real concern now especially after some really poor chipping yesterday and I MUST work on that this week. I have some rounds of golf planned during the week, mainly in preparation for next weekends competitions at my home club and a Singlefiguregolfer event at Blackburn.

Blackburn is a course that I haven’t played before so I’m going for a practice round this week and will spend some quality time mapping out the course and really working on how to approach the 36 holes next Sunday as I need some order of merit points to try to get into the Top 21 of the Northern section in the Single Figure Golfer events.

Now back to my 36 holes in the Club Championship, always a tough day on the course due to the rough being up and the pins being hidden away in tight positions, and this year was no different. My first round was up and down with some good stuff and some poor stuff on display but short game and putting let me down in places and really highlighted what I already knew about that area of my game.

Around the 13th hole I felt my back stiffening up and was concerned I would be able to get much further but I carried on and the scores rumbled on bogey-par-double-bogey-bogey-bogey, 6 dropped shots over the last 6 holes didn’t make for good reading but I hit two great shots down the last into a tough wind and that persuaded me to go out for the second round plus I was still in the hunt for the Club Trophy only 4 shots back from the leader and I honestly felt that if I swung easy I could get it round, how wrong I was.

The score was 18 over gross for the 2nd round when a bad shot off the 18th tee found thick rough and I knew I would injure myself more trying to extricate it so ended my round there and then.

I drove home and could hardly walk into the house!

Today, Sunday, it has eased slightly so we have been on a five-mile walk to try to keep it moving but it has unfortunately stiffened up again and I will have to take each day as it comes this week, but I will do everything I can to get back in fully working order.

The plan, injury permitting, is to play a few holes on Monday and then do some short game work on Tuesday and Wednesday evening before playing Blackburn on Thursday and possibly somewhere else on Friday to make sure my game is ready for a full weekend.

To any golfers reading this who are unsure about the mental side of the game give Andy Morrison’s blog a read

Captains Day 7th August 2010

9 08 2010

After a busy week at work and not as much golf practice as I would have liked I played in the Captains Day major competition at my home club, a competition that I won last year with a 76 gross in the second round.

I felt good about my game and stepped confidently on to the first tee and smashed a driver down the fairway, leaving me with a pitch to the green. Unfortunately we had to wait before we hit our second shots and I lost focus on the job in hand and thinned the ball on to the bank at the back of the green leaving me with a very difficult chip shot to a tight flag. I walked away with a bogey 5 which to be fair was probably best case scenario when I missed the green.

I missed the 2nd green and hit a decent chip shot but couldn’t get the putt to drop and carded a bogey 4, to start with back to back bogeys.

I hit a 3 wood down the 3rd which left me with 105 yards to the flag into the breeze so I hit a little 8 iron and found the right side of the putting surface, took my two putts and walked away with a par. On the 4th I came up just short of the front left greenside bunker with my tee shot but was too aggressive with my chip and rolled into the fringe grass and had to bump it out on to the green around 12 foot from the flag. I managed to hole the putt for another par.

Another good drive down the 5th saw me in position to attack the pin and I had 130 yards but it was slightly down breeze so I decided to hit a little 6 iron, usually 125 yards, and let the ball roll up to the flag, it did but it went past and through the green by around 2 yards. I then shanked my chip! and ended up taking a bogey 5.

Bogeys on 6 and 7 saw me puzzled as to why I couldn’t get the round going but then shots on 8 and 9 showed me why!

I shanked my tee shot on the 8th and ended up making a good bogey 4. My tee shot on the 9th was terrible and was the sign of a common swing issue I have especially with driver in my hands, I come over the top and pull the ball left whilst coming down on it. I ended up taking a 6 on the hole and needed to sort my game out if I had any chance of carding a decent score.

I then went on a run of good holes, making par on every hole from 10-15 inclusive with some good golf, including an up and down from 125 yards on the 12th after finding a hazard off the tee!

I then hit a decent drive up the 16th into the wind and was left with a 5 wood to the green but I didn’t put a good swing on it and ended up short right and I couldn’t get up and down, making a bogey 5. On the 17th I hit a poor tee shot, but found the green with my second shot, then managing to 3 putt for the first time in the round.

The 18th was just poor golf from me with a bad tee shot followed by a couple more and I ended up with an 8 on the par 4.

Overall, some good things to take from the round, some lessons learnt and some stuff to work on.

I started the work last night by playing 9 holes on my own and taking plenty of time around the greens looking at flag positions and the best place to miss for a chance at up and down next week in the Club Championship/Club Trophy Finals.

I feel Ok about my game at the moment and am looking forward to some work on both my swing and mental game this week.

A change is as good as a rest…

4 08 2010

I had made my mind up to change putter following the weekend and put a Scotty Cameron Squareback back in the bag just to see if a new visual might help with the issues I had been having on the greens. It’s a putter I bought at Christmas time and I put it in the bag for one round and then went back to the Taylormade Spider that has been in the bag for a couple of years mainly due to familiarity reasons.
I had a roll with the Scotty in the house on Sunday night and then did a bit of chipping in the garden just to keep the practice going now matter how much time was spent doing it. I also knew I would be playing a few holes on Tuesday so knew I would be getting some practice early in the week.
We played Heysham on Tuesday and it was in excellent condition, although the weather was on and off, the course and the greens where spot on. I made a bogey down the first after pulling my tee shot left and having to chip out, but the important part for me was that I holed a 6 footer to make the bogey save, one green – one putt.
I missed the green on the 2nd and managed to get up and down after again, I holed a decent putt to save my par. Clearly the change of putter was having an affect and a good one at that!
I played some really steady golf, apart from a couple of dodgy tee shots and was 4 over par thru 16 holes. Unfortunately I made a mistake with my tee shot on the 17th and ended with a double bogey, and after a good drive down the last I pushed my second shot into trouble and again made double bogey to end up with an 8 over gross total.
The positives to take from the round though where that my swing felt good, apart from a couple of dodgy ones (but golf is nor a game of perfect!). Plus my putting was much improved, although still not holing everything I would like to I am holing my fair share.
Plan for the rest of the week is to put as much practice in as possible in preparation for Saturdays comp.

The putter is not my friend

2 08 2010

I had a good week of build up play, apart from a dodgy driving range session on Friday night, in preparation for Saturdays comp at my home club and decided to do things a little different on Saturday morning too. I went on an hours walk with my little girl first thing with her in the pushchair and then did a full warm up session with stretches and yoga on wii fit plus to get the muscles really ready.
I got down to the golf club and went straight to the first tee as we where all ready to go. I hit a 5 wood with a little draw to a nice position on the left of the fairway and then hit a 9 iron pin high left on the green, leaving me with a tricky putt for birdie swinging from left to right. I rolled the putt close but ended up with a decent par and feeling quite good about my game.
The second hole was playing directly into the wind and I decided to punch a driver up towards the left of the green with a fade. The flag was on the left and the best place to miss was right side, so a fade off the left should find the green or the left rough. It found the left rough around 3 yards from the greens edge so I chipped up to 6 foot, but missed the chance to get up and down as the ball lipped out, leaving me with a tap in for bogey, but not a bad start.
Before I teed off on the first I had a game plan of sorts, and that plan was to think more tactically around the course and not to hit driver on all the holes I usually do but to think about the shots ahead. I decided to take a 3 wood from the 3rd tee as it would give me further into the green and mean I could hit a fuller shot rather than trying to hit a feel shot with a wedge into the wind and a tough green. The 3 wood was hit perfectly and I was left with 10 yards to the green, a little 9 iron for me into the breeze, which I dispatched to the left side of the green leaving me with an uphill putt for birdie. The birdie putt went close but I was left with a tap in for par which I converted.
A good par up the 4th after taking a 5 wood from the tee left me in good shape and I had hit 3 of the 4 greens so far in my round. Two good shots on the 5th meant I hit a 4th green in regulation out of 5 holes but I had a nightmare on the green.
I 4 putted the 5th from around 20 foot, racing my first putt past the hole by around 10 foot and then missing that one and a short one too. I know that putting is possibly one of the weakest elements of my game at the moment but I knew that if I kept the long game going I would get more chances and not to be to disheartened.
A good par down the 6th with another green hit in regulation and another birdie chance rolled close saw me happy going to the 7th tee, where I hit a semi decent drive and then a 5 iron layup and another 5 iron to the green, but I started the ball on the right and hoped the wind would move it, but it didnt and I ended up in a rather soggy bunker. Getting the ball out but not close enough, I had to settle for a bogey 6.
A good tee shot on the 8th found the green but 3 putts later I had carded a bogey 4 and was getting disapointed that the putts just didnt seem to want to drop.
A poor tee shot on the 9th left me in trouble and I had to take an unplayable drop. A good 8 iron got me to within 10 yards of the front of the green and I managed to chip close and hole the putt for a good bogey given the trouble I was in with my tee shot.
I hit a good drive down the 10th but found a divot in the fairway and had to try and get the ball out and close to the green, I got it fairly close but didnt pitch the ball close enough and walked away with a bogey 5. I followed this up with a bogey 4 at the 11th after hitting the ball through the back of the green but on a perfect line!, I left my chip short and then couldnt hole the putt. A great drive down the 12th, faded into the middle of the fairway and left me with a pitch to the green, which I pulled slightly but the distance was perfect and i was pin high with a 12 foot putt, which I left short and had to take a par. A bogey down the 13th after finding the right hand bunker with my second shot meant I needed a run of pars with maybe an odd birdie to get my round going again. I hit the ball close on the 14th and rolled in the putt from around 4 foot, for a birdie 2, but the joy didnt last as I double bogeyed the 15th after finding the right hand bunker and then three putting when I go the ball onto the green.
A good drive up the 16th left me with a 7 iron in my hands and I dispatched the ball right at the flag, but it pitched and rolled through in to the first level of rough behind the green, from here it should be a fairly straight forward up and down, but not for me as I ended with a double bogey 6, a poor chip followed by three putts.
I decided that I would hit 3 wood in to the short 17th hole as the wind was helping and I found the green, giving me a 20 foot putt uphill for an eagle chance. I rolled the ball up the slope and left it around a foot short, converting the short one for a birdie.
I hit a good drive down the right side of the 18th which left me in the first cut of round and I figured a five wood would get me close the the green, so I aimed left and hoped it would move on the breeze, and it did. The ball rolled up to around 10 foot from the flag to give me a birdie chance on the long par 4 finishing hole. I rolled the putt around a foot past the hole on the right side and tapped in for a good par.
All in all I was very happy with my long game but short game and putting is desperately in need of some work and my plan is to really put the effort in this week as I have a busy spell of tournaments coming up over the next month.