I was surprised yesterday when, during an entertaining 18 holes walked up at Mill Run Golf Club as Welshman’s guest with two friends of his (one is a teaching professional at Angus Glen G.C., a Canadian Open site), I realized that I hadn’t played a full 18 holes of golf in over two and a half years (January 2015 in California).
That was riding in a cart as well – I had to really go back to remember the last time I walked 18 holes on a full length course with a carry bag (I played quite a few 9 hole rounds on the course at the facility where I have practiced), and that was back in the summer of 2013.
So, I was simply not prepared for the exertion and ran out of gas after about 9 or 10 holes – the legs and back got tired and when my left S.I. joint began to stiffen up, I couldn’t clear the hips the way I usually do and the ball began to go left on me.
The first 9 holes were quite enjoyable though – I played well enough that the Angus Glen pro paid me the compliment of suggesting a money game for the 2nd 9. I accepted, and regretted it pretty fast when realized on the 11th tee (after two quick-hooked drives, the 2nd a provisional) that I was out of gas.
I had hit about a dozen balls before we teed off (I didn’t hit any chips or putts because we were running behind, big mistake), and my front nine drives were all in the fairway or just off and playable in the first cut, with one exception…
On the 4th or 5th hole, a dogleg right, I lost a ball where I felt I could still hit driver with only 300 yards before a tree-line with knee-high fescue on the other side – I took a laser reading to the trees from the elevated tee and and said, “No worries, I’ll just take some off…”
A fade might have done the job, but it went straight and a few seconds later, we watched the ball sailing through the trees and into the rough on the fly – should have gone 4 wood… I neglected to account for the fact that a Pro V1 ball would fly a good deal better than the range balls I usually hit.
The problem cropped up again when I hit an easy SW from 95 from the fairway – it was a tight lie so no flyer, but that Pro V went about 115, completely over the green for a fried-egg lie in the back bunker.
On another hole, with 145 to the flagstick, I opted for an easy 9 iron – again, 15 yards over the hole, the green and the back bunker for an impossible downhill flop to a tight pin.
That kind of day.
But I learned my lesson – on a 155 yard par 3, I went with the PW instead of the 9 and hit it hole high, only to leave the 10 foot birdie putt short (nothing worse than that feeling when you know you didn’t hit it), and on an approach to an uphill green at 224 yards to the flag on a par 5 approach, I took the 5 iron and nailed it hole-high.
That one was amusing, because when I lasered the distance and grabbed the 5 iron out of my bag, Welshman thought I was out of my mind – until he saw the ball in the air.
DJ & Welshman – 10th Tee Mill Run G.C.
When the muscles began to tire, I still hit it solidly (no lost distance) aside from the couple of hooked drives – but on a 205 yard uphill par 3, I pulled a 6 iron way left of the green, hole-high, and on another 230-something par 3 hole, I yanked the 4 iron even further left (like half-wedge to the green left), but again hole-high.
When the hips slow down you will find yourself going left, either because the club face is closing at impact or because the shoulders open early, leading to a pull, and that’s exactly what happened.
I had no intention after such a long time off playing regular golf of trying for a score, and for good reason – anyone who thinks they can play decent scoring golf without regular play and solid work on their short game (and especially without any before teeing off), is seriously deluded.
I struck the ball well until my leg and back muscles fatigued on the back nine, but if I had been playing for score even on the front, it would have been a dark comedy – the first drive on a winding par 5, I split the fairway, hit a decent layup to the corner and then a wedge to about 20 feet…and promptly 3-putted for bogey.
So, it was a nice day walking 18 holes (although I was in pretty rough shape by the time we reached 18), and what I took away from it was that, with some short game work and taking into account that I need to take at least one less iron with non-range balls, I felt pretty good about the swing on the course – I was curious to see how I would do swing-wise after one single day hitting balls last Friday following a month layoff.
I have to say that I’ve never felt more confident standing over the ball – on the first tee, where you have the most nerves, I just teed it up, took my line and let fly.
I remarked to Welshman as well that, with the MCS swing model where I have mine right now, I don’t have time to think negative thoughts or to “fear” a shot – I decide on the shot and club, set my stance, take a last look at the target and pull the trigger – I actually had no memory of swinging yesterday, just of setting up over the ball and then seeing it in the air.
My philosophy – if you’re afraid of the outcome standing over the ball, then you either haven’t committed to the club, or you simply need to spend some more time at the range figuring out what’s scaring you.
Moe Norman said once about hazards, “There are no hazards in the air,” and I felt that same confidence yesterday, even though I ended up in a couple of bunkers – if you hit your shot properly, you shouldn’t end up in a hazard, so they are just distractions, really.
I’m going to play another round next week, with David D. at Royal Ashburn, the former Fall Q-School venue for the Canadian Tour – I’m going to make sure I get in some short game work before we head out. We’ll likely be riding as well, so I should get a better idea of where my game is at the moment.
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