A much needed, but unplanned late summer 9!
Date: September 3, 2021
Time: 6:15 PM
Conditions: 75* & sunny. Perfect.
Played solo with my son riding along/driving.
Ping G425 LST 9* (turned to 8*) with Diamana D+ 60X **NEW**
Ping G400 Stretch 3W 13* (turned to 12.5*) with Diamana D+ 70X **NEW**
Taylormade SIM Max 5W 18* with Mitsubishi HZRDUS Smoke Black 70 6.5
Mizuno JPX 921 Hot Metal 4-PW with KBS CTaper 130X + 3/4*; 2* Upright
Mizuno MP T20 50, 54, 58 Wedges with DG Tour Issue S400 **50*/58* NEW**
Odyssey Toulon Las Vegas H7 36”
I decided to add the What’s In The Bag (WITB) because I’m a revolving door when it comes to golf clubs. They don’t last long in my bag before I swap them and try something else. I’m trying to quit changing things up so much, but I do enjoy trying to find the perfect setup almost as much as playing sometimes.
New additions for this round:
- Ping G425 LST - I was playing and loving the 410 LST and found a smokin deal for a like new 425 head on ebay, so I scooped it up!
- Ping G400 Stretch 3W - I love having a bunch of options for tee clubs and I’m a sucker for a ridiculously long fairway wood. I’ve also decided the Hot Metal Pro 4i is plenty long as a driving iron, so it opened a spot for another club in the bag. Again, found a ridiculous deal, and scooped it around the same time I sold a bunch of other stuff. Came out ahead on the deal and love having 3 options at the top of the bag.
-Mizuno MP T20 50* Gap Wedge and 58* Lob Wedge. Not much to say here…just giving myself more options at both ends of the bag by pulling out driving iron and hybrid.
- I did REMOVE the SIM UDI 2i (16*) & Titleist TSi3 20* hybrid from the bag for now. I rarely hit the hybrid and can get similar performance from my 4i or 5W depending on the need.
September 3 is my wife’s birthday, but as it goes for all nurses, she had to work. The show must go on, and all that… so once we wished her a happy birthday and kissed her goodbye, we jetted over to the club to try and grab one of the last carts before they wrapped things up for the day. Teed off at 6:15, and had to have the cart back by 7:30 so hoped there was nobody ahead of us, and there wasn’t!
As I’ve mentioned before the first tee here can be tough because I’m usually starting cold. Even if I hit the range before my round, which I rarely do, it’s irons only, so the first driver swing of the day happens on the box. With the new G425 in the bag for the very first time, it was literally the very first swing with the driver…and it was right outta the barrel! Dead straight, at the flag just up the left side of the fairway. Good start! One of my other newish clubs is a 58* lob wedge, and this 99-yard shot was the perfect time to break it in. Hit a perfect wedge that landed about 8 feet behind the flag and zipped back, just missing the cup and stopping about 4 feet from the cup. Knocked in the birdie, and we were rolling!
Score: -1 (-1)
I grabbed the new ping G400 Stretch (2nd one I’ve owned by the way….like I said…club junkie!!) and decided to see how it would do on this tee. Stupid move to be honest because I have been hitting 5W here and it has been perfect. But never claimed to be a smart golfer. Teed the ball a little high and hit it high on the toe and flared it right. Clipped a tree and dropped just in the rough near the cart path. Not a terrible swing, but not great. I had about 157 yards in but was blocked out by a tree. Couldn’t go over, and the tree was thin, so I decided to just smoke a punched 9i and hope it would get through and end up near the green. That’s exactly what happened. Came up a little short, but left myself another little chip with the 58*. Narrowly missed the first putt and tapped in for bogey. Not great, but considering where I was after my tee ball, a bogey was about the best I could hope for.
Score: +1 (Even)
Always a crapshoot on this hole, but it’s almost always a PW and the wind is almost always doing something screwy. Today, it was dead into me despite that wind indicator on the screenshot above. I hit this choked-down PW well but tugged it a bit. It was either going to catch the left edge of the green or hop in the bunker, and it chose the latter. Bunkers were still a little wet, from rain a few days ago, but I hit a perfect shot that flew 2 feet past the flag and it spun and stopped quickly. I had 15 feet with very little break in it, and buried it right in the heart. Solid par!
Score: E (E)
After the bomb on #1, I thought long and hard about hitting driver here, but I wanted to keep the good juju going, so I grabbed 7i and hit it almost perfectly. It was just right of the fairway, but in a perfect spot for my approach. Grabbed 7i again and flushed a 7i left of the green. The ball landed on a hill left of the green and pitched about 10 yards long left. Time for another 58* pitch. I hit it well and it landed exactly where I wanted it to, but didn’t release like I planned. I left myself 28 feet for par, and I lagged it to about a foot. Hate making bogey here, because it should be an easy hole, but that tee shot just makes this hole quirky and awkward at times.
Score: +1 (+1)
Another PW, but this one was slightly down wind. Hit it flush right at the flag, but it flew past the stick and stopped on the back fringe about 14 feet away. I grabbed my putter and lagged the putt from the fringe down to 3 feet. Tap in. Any time I make par on a par 3, I’m good with it. Approach is still the part of the game I want to improve the most.
Score: E (+1)
This was the first really bad swing of the day. I picked a line more left than I normally do and smoked my 5wood long and left, into the drink. Penalty. I took my drop, considered another 5w to try and get on the green, and thought better of it. 4i was the safe play and it was well struck leaving me just 60 yards to the stick in front of the green. Another 58* to the perfect distance left me 18 feet and I just left it short. If I hit, it goes in, but the putt was timid and slightly uphill and just died about 10 inches short. Tapped in for bogey. Not great, but in days gone by, I’d have turned that into a double bogey easily. Didn’t compound the error. Bogey was a good score considering my tee shot. I just can’t go left there. Right is dead too (OB) so it’s a tough tee decision.
Score: +1 (+2)
Hole #7 is my “home hole.” We live 100 yards from this tee box, so I am very familiar with this hole. What you can’t tell from the screenshot above is just how blocked out the view is from the tee box. You can’t see any part of the green. I’ve taken risks before and aimed left of the bunker and hit and hoped blindly, and it has paid off, but the smart play is at the bunker. I grabbed the new G425 driver, and much like the first tee….BANG, right out of the barrel. Slight wind into me, but it didn’t seem to impact this drive too much. The ball never left its line and I actually thought from the tee I might have flown the bunker. Instead, I found myself in the bunker hole high on a slight downslope. The smart play would have been to play a standard bunker shot, take my medicine and two-putt for par. Instead, I thought back to a video I watched of Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas talking at the Solheim Cup about how to hit “chunk and run” bunker shots. Like a moron…I decided to try what they said, which was square the face, hit a little further behind the ball, and let it hit and release. Welp….I hit a LOT more behind the ball, and the ball came out low and dead, hit the lip of the bunker and rolled back into the sand. The dreaded two-chip! The next bunker shot was solid I had 23 feet to the flag. I just missed it to the right and tapped in for bogey. 99 times out of 100, I hit the bunker shot well. The decision to play a shot I’ve never played before was just stupid.
Score: +1 (+3)
Tee boxes were moved over on #8 today and I prefer this tee shot to the boxes on the far left. Grabbed the 50* GW and hit it right at the stick, but it was a little off the toe and it landed just short. That seems to be my standard play on this hole. Long is dead, so I’m ok with it. Grabbed a 58*, popped the ball up in the air and it landed perfectly, stopping 5 feet from the cup. Didn’t even grab my putter, just walked up and popped the putt in with the leading edge of the wedge for an easy, no-stress par. Love it. Give me all the pars on short par 3s.
Score: E (+3)
A tough hole here because right and left are both OB and it’s much narrower from the tee than it looks above. I grabbed the Ping G400 Stretch and absolutely MELTED a shot right up the left side of the fairway. The ball ended up just a foot or two in the rough, but it was a great tee shot and left me a great look at the flag. The wind was up and with me a bit, so I grabbed 9i from 159 out and flushed it. It flew high and straight at the left side of the green, and I saw it bounce, then disappear behind a hill at the front left of the green. When we drove up, I found that the ball had flown hole high, and rolled out just into the fringe behind the green. I hit a 54* chip to 4 feet and tapped in for par to close out a really solid 9 holes of golf.
Score: E (+3)
Total Score: 37 (+3)
This was one of the easiest rounds of golf I’ve ever played. If you take away the bad swing on #6 where I went in the water left, and the stupid first bunker shot on #7, I really played very well. I didn’t make a single double bogey (more on that in a minute), and I hit a bunch of shots around the green pretty close. I only hit 1 of 9 greens but chipped and putted really well, with a number of 1-putts to keep me going. The driver right now is HOT. Going back to Ping has been huge for me after struggling to love the Titleist TSi3 I was fit for earlier in the spring.
The Ping G400 Stretch has big-time potential. I should have 280+ with the driver, 250+ with the stretch, and 230 with the 5w, and my 4i is 215, so the top of my bag is covered pretty well and provides me with a lot of options. Same shaft in driver/3w is nice too. I knew exactly what to expect from each today.
Couple final thoughts: 1, I turned 38 last week and shot 80/79 on my birthday over 36 holes. It was too much to recap here with birthday festivities and so many holes to try and remember, but suffice to say, it was a great day with great golf. I set a goal to shoot my age for one of the 9 holes that day, and did it on the first 9 of the 2nd round. Today, I beat that score by another stroke. I’m playing some of the most solid golf of my life right now. Need to keep it up!
I’ve been talking with my golf partner a bunch and the biggest difference in my game lately is double-bogey avoidance. I’m making a few more birdies because I’m hitting it better, but more importantly, I’m avoiding penalties more often and as a result limiting the number of double bogeys. In all the research I’ve done and podcasts I’ve listened to, this is the key to better scoring. My entire focus right now is on limiting penalty strokes from the tee so I can make bogeys at worst and birdies at best.
My current handicap according to my WHS handicap in The Grint is 9.5! That’s the lowest it has ever been, and the first time I’ve ever had a single digit in front of the decimal in my index. The goal is to get to 8 this year, and if I can keep putting together rounds like this, I’ll get there by the time winter rolls in.
(Woof….that 99 just sticks out like a sore thumb. I have such a love/hate with 12 Oaks Golf Course in Raleigh, NC!)
Lastly, I had an opportunity to get away with my wife to celebrate both of our birthdays and we went to the Boar’s Head Resort in Charlottesville, VA. Birdwood Golf Course is on the resort and is home to the University of Virginia’s Golf Teams. The course was recently renovated by Davis Love III’s design group and it is an absolute gem! I was really hoping to do a post about the round (shot 83, played fairly well…wife rode along for all 18, which was awesome!), but the weird thing there is, none of the apps seem to have updated their GPS maps to reflect the redesign, so I have nothing to show you. Just enjoy the photos below and take my word for it: If you have a chance, get up there and go play. Amazing layout, great views, Zoisia grass in the fairways, and great greens. Lots of challenging shots, but it’s fair.