Knockin off a bit of rust
A Christmas miracle!
Course: Chesapeake Golf Club
Date: December 22, 2021
Time: 2:45 PM
Conditions: 45* and sunny
Ping G425 LST 9* (turned to 8*) with HZRDUS Smoke 70X
Taylormade SIM Rocket 3W 13.5* with HZRDUS Smoke 70X
Taylormade SIM Max 5w with HZRDUS Smoke 70X
Srixon ZX5/ZX7 Combo irons 4-PW; +3/4” 2* Up; KBS Ctaper Lite X-Stiff
Mizuno MP T20 50, 54, 58 Wedges with DG Tour Issue S400
Cleveland Elevado Frontline 36”
All data and screenshots below are done using the V1 Game app. Grab the app and start shooting lower scores today!
This is the first time I’ve written since like early November because I’ve spent the last 8 weeks with an accounting class for my MBA sucking the life out of me, and destroying my opportunities for golf. If you’re an accountant, God bless you…..I think you’re probably a serial killer though to willingly do accounting work every day. It’s just brutal. I spent literally 3-4 hours per day trying to teach myself accounting, which is about as much fun as it sounds! Anyway, enough about that. It’s done and I’m back! Just in time for Christmas!
Couple new sticks in the bag for this round….the SIM Ti Rocket is a strong fairway wood, similar to the Ping Stretch I’ve used before, but it’s honestly a little hotter I think. And while I haven’t played many full rounds or written about any of them, I did sneak out a time or two for a few holes and my putter has been AWFUL each time, so it got a timeout today. It’ll be back, but I brought in a grizzled veteran off the bench for this one….a Cleveland Frontline Elevado putter. It’s got weight forward behind the face to get the ball rolling sooner, and ideally straighter…New shaft in my driver too that matches the shaft in my fairway woods.
Had one of those funny situations where you pull in the parking lot and there’s another golfer who is loading their gear onto the cart and you start hoping you can beat them to the first tee….well today it was a guy and his girlfriend, so I was really trying to hustle, but the proshop boys were moving slow, and by the time I got my cart, they were headed to number 1. “Oh, boy I thought….gonna be a slow day!” As it turned out, I was wrong. She could really play and they were fast, which was even better! I rolled a couple putts to let them finish #1 then decided to send it!
First swing, no warmup other than a couple stretches standing by the cart, and I hit a bomb just up the left that settled in the rough about 290 yards away. Love that! I reloaded and hit a couple more just to get things loosened up. Every one of them was a bomb right where I was looking….
Grabbed gap wedge from 110 because it was a little chilly and I wasn’t sure how my ball-striking would be after not playing as much the last 8 weeks. Turned out to be the right move. I hit it good, not great, but it still came up short into the wind. I ended up on the green, but had about 42 feet for birdie.
As I mentioned earlier, I had a “new” old putter in the bag, and other than the couple putts I’d just rolled to kill time before teeing off, I had no idea how it would perform. I had a pretty good line and thought I could probably lag it to a close tap-in distance.
Putter had other plans….ball tracked all the way to the hole and buried in the heart. Birdie….What a start! That was probably a 1% chance of make. I’m a 1%’er.
Score: -1 (-1)
Feelin good after the bird, I rolled to #2, grabbed the SIM Rocket 3w and picked my normal line just inside the trees up the right. I smoked this ball right at my target (is there an echo in here?) and it actually flew just past the trees. That’s a BIG ball on this hole with fairway wood and on a day where the ball wasn’t flying like it does in the summer.
I did run through the fairway so my 2nd shot was from some thin rough and I didn’t hit it well. A little chunky 58* wedge that flew right at the flag, but came up short and settled on the hill right before the green, leaving me an uphill lie from some dormant grass to a downhill pin. Not ideal! The bump and run came out hot and ran by the flag about 25 or 30 feet. Was gonna have to make another bomb if I was gonna keep it in the red numbers. Unfortunately, lagged it to 2 feet and tapped in for bogey. Golf gives and takes away.
Score: +1 (E)
One fun thing you wouldn’t know since I’ve been AWOL is that I discovered by chance over the break that ALL of my irons were 3* off in terms of lie angles. They were supposed to be 2* up and they were all 1* flat. To make matters worse, the 4i, 9i and PW were all 2* weak in terms of loft. Awesome….
I say that to say, I’m gonna have to learn what my actual distances are for those clubs, especially the PW and 9i, and hopefully I’ll see fewer weak wipey right misses with irons.
I grabbed PW here and hit a great one just over the greenside bunker on the left. I had about 30 feet down the hill, but it was a straight putt with just a tiny bit of curl at the very end. I read it great, but it hit a bump about 4 feet before the hole and the curl got a little curlier than I anticipated. I missed by about 2 feet on the right and tapped in for par.
Score: E (E)
I really wanted to send it here, but ol’ boy and his girl were across the water hitting their 3rd shots and I didn’t feel like waiting, so I laid up with an 8i, leaving myself about 200 yards in. I aimed up the left side of the green and hit a good one that just never cut. I was pin high about 10 yards left of the green, and then I had 25 feet to the flag on the green, so I grabbed my 50* wedge and hit a great chip that hit on the fringe and rolled out to about 5 feet. It was a must-make putt to keep the energy going, and I did. Par on this hole is great if you don’t try and carry the water from the tee.
Score: E (E)
Time to find out if this newly adjusted pitching wedge is the club for this hole. It’s been a crapshoot this year on #5 at the home course because 9i is often too much and PW has been the worst club in my bag at times…Took a good swing and hit it a little toey but right online. Not a good shot, but not terrible. On the green, but with 50 feet to the back pin location. I guess I could have tried to hit a little 3/4 9i but with the new lofts/lies, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Short isn’t good, but it’s better than long. Long is dead on this hole.
At any rate, I lined up my putt, but didn’t have a good sense of what we were working with at that point, so I was hoping just to lag it close and knock in a par putt. Instead, I hammered it and ended up 10 feet by at the very back edge of the green. Now coming downhill, the 10 footer had a bunch of slide in it…hit what I thought was a good putt, but it scooted by on the edge. Tap-in bogey. Bleh….poorly played, but 50 feet is no bueno. Gotta hit it closer off the tee. Tryin to manage my expectations though after so much time off from playing as regularly as I had been.
Score: +1 (+1)
Tough hole here….I’m yet to discover the best way to play it, but I like to hit 5w from the tee and try to just hit it in the middle then make the decision to go for it or lay up. Today I hit a 5w into a little breeze and it hit the hill in the fairway and rolled back down and left into the thin rough. I could *possibly* have tried to carry the water. I had enough club for sure, but I didn’t know that I could get a great strike with the lie angle, thin/muddy rough, etc. so I opted instead to punch a little 7i to the peninsula on the right and then try to go from there. Not ideal, but better than splashing one.
Punched over, narrowly missing one of the eleven billion geese sitting in the 6th fairway, and then grabbed 5i from 210 to try and knock it on the front of the green. It was a front pin and this green is like a house of horrors with all its slope and contour, so I did not want to be long. 4i was the club, but I just couldn’t risk the long miss. Instead, I had the short miss…Just an average strike, into wind, uphill. So I ended up with wedge in hand about 30 yards from the green. I hit a little hip-to-hip 54* and landed it hole high about 20 feet right of the pin, but on the correct tier of the green.
Back to back bogeys I thought to myself, frustrated with the poor position I’d put myself in off the tee and my approach. I just wanted to lag it close and head to the 7th where I could try to get one back. Instead, I experienced what Scott Fawcett from DECADE golf would call a “happy accident.” The ball tracked to the hole the entire way, and sank right in the middle. MASSIVE par-saver!
Score: E (+1)
The guy and his girlfriend had played through a group of three in front of them, and that group was now waiting and waving me through onto the 7th tee box where they stood and waited for me to play through as well. We all know how much I love playing through…
Nevertheless, all I’d done so far was hit seeds with the long clubs, so I stepped up with as much confidence as I could muster, and unleashed a bomb right at the green. It was dead into the sun and the green is hidden by the trees here, so I wasn’t sure where I went, but I knew it was good. The ball never left its line just at the left side of the green.
I did my best Charlie Woods club twirl, tipped my cap, and headed to the cart feeling eleven feet tall. As I drove across the water and toward the green, I didn’t bother with the fairway. “Where we’re going, we don’t need fairways…”
I found my ball pin high just off the fringe of the green, some 289 yards away. It had pitched and stopped about a foot from its pitch mark. Flew it 290…OK…new driver shaft seems decent…I grabbed my putter because I was pretty tired of poor contact from this thin rough that was equal parts mud and dormant grass. Hit a good one that curled toward the hole and settled just beneath it for a tap-in birdie.
Got one back! Let’s go!
Side note: I’m pretty sure I play every other hole in my city at like +1.2 over par or something, but this 7th hole, I may be -7 lifetime. It just suits me for some reason. Love banging driver to this green, and it just tends to work out more often that not.
Score: -1 (E)
At this point, I texted my buddy Kevin and said we got something going on here…need two pars to shoot even on the front, birdie to finish in the red. About 30 seconds later, I missed the green to the left and was looking at another chip shot, hoping to knock it close enough to save par. Why did I send that text?? I know better than to tempt the golf gods…
At any rate, my chip was right on line, but it checked up more than I expected and I had 10 feet for par. Missed outside the cup and never really gave it a chance. Bogey on a short par 3. Gross.
Score: +1 (+1)
If you’ve followed any of my rounds on this journey, you’ll know #9 is a hole where almost no matter what I do, I end up blocking it right into the trees and having to scramble my tail off for a bogey.
Not today, boys! I absolutely ripped driver up the middle on a string! It ended up only about 270 from the tee, which is plenty, but it felt like I hit it 500 yards. The difference with this drive though was it was only about 20 feet off the ground. I normally hit high, towering bombs, and this was a laser that split the fairway.
I had 138 to the front, with a front pin, but the hole plays slightly uphill. “I can make birdie from here,” I said out loud to nobody in particular.
I grabbed PW again and absolutely flagged it. As soon as it left the face I thought it was going to be perfect…and it would have been if the pin wasn’t on a massive downslope at the front of the green. I landed it 3 feet from the cup, but it sucked back down the hill to about 15 feet. I couldn’t be mad. I executed the exact shot I wanted/needed when I needed it most. Any higher on the hill and the ball probably picks up so much speed coming down that it rolls off the green. It’s just an impossible pin location.
Anyway, I had a straight putt from 15 feet for birdie and to finish even par, which I’ve never done before. I played it too safe, if I’m honest. I didn’t give it enough juice and the slope killed it. The ball stopped right in the middle of the hole, but about a foot short. Tapped in for par, frustrated that I didn’t really give myself a chance there, but ecstatic about playing to +1 for 9 holes. Hopefully that’s a good sign of more things to come in the new year!
Hole Score: E (+1)
9-Hole Score: 35 (+1)
So this round was a lot of fun, and it was nice because I had ZERO pressure to play well. I can’t overstate how life-altering the accounting class was to my time, focus, energy, etc. I went to the course today expecting nothing and got a great round out of it.
When my buddy Kevin and I play together, neither of us really ever plays well. Occasionally someone will have a good day, but on the whole, we play the worst golf when we play together, and it’s because we care so much about what the other one thinks about our respective golf games. We put so much pressure and anticipation on the rounds that when they start to unravel there’s no getting them back.
That’s what I noticed about today….I still made plenty of mistakes. I’m going to! I’m an 8 handicap (probably more like 10 if we’re traveling), and my game is far from perfect, but I was able to put the mistakes behind me and bounce back. No major blow ups, no unraveling, no double bogeys to throw the round away. Just golfin’ my ball with no real conscious thought of score until I added em up at the end.
Gained strokes in every aspect of the game today. Putter was pretty hot, so we may have a putter controversy on our hands. Truth be told, even though I made a couple bombs today, this putter feels like crap compared to my Toulon Las Vegas, so it’s gonna be hard to keep the Toulon on the bench for long. Heckuva return for the Celeveland, though!
I only hit 2 fairways today technically, but the misses were small and very much in play with great looks at the hole other than the 5w on #6. If I drive it like I did today all the time, the cap is coming down even lower, no question!
THREE KEYS BREAKDOWN:
Penalties: .5 penalty reflects the fact I had to hit a little punch recovery shot on #6, but overall no actual penalty strokes today. That’s how I have to play. That’s how I was scoring this summer. When I keep the ball on the golf course, I can shoot a good number.
2-Chips: No 2-chips today, which is big, because a couple weeks ago I slid out to the Blitz last minute and I think I had 5 2-chips that day. FIVE. Just abysmal, so this was nice to see the wedges back on their best behavior.
Three-Putts: Only 1 three putt today from 50+ feet on number 5, and honestly that’s gonna happen. I’d been lagging it short and not getting it to the hole, so I guess the reaction to that is hammer it long. The greens are playing significantly different around here now than they did all summer, so having to get used to that as well.
Current Handicap: 7.7
I’d kinda committed to not inputing winter scores for my handicap because of how little I’m playing, how different the course conditions are, and how poor the weather has been, but kinda rethinking that after this 35! That said, in the couple rounds I snuck out and played over the last 8-9 weeks, I think I had an 83 and two 87s, so it’s not like I’ve been lighting it up.
How do you handle winter scoring and handicaps? Let me know on twitter or in the comments below!
Two birds, three bogeys, 4 pars…no doubles!! I’ll take that all day every day. Had to get home to my wife and son for some family Christmas time, but would have been kinda fun to keep rolling and see where I’d have ended up after 18 holes. Golf around the holidays is bonus golf, though, so I’ll take what I can and be thrilled to death with it.
Merry Christmas to you and yours! And may the new year bring us all low scores and lots of fun.