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!