This will be my second card for my handicap (unless my away card at Dundonald has been accepted) and I feel much better prepared than I did for the May competition. There are still weaknesses in my game but I have played and practiced more in the last 8 weeks than I have for 10 years and I can feel the benefits. The bad shots are less bad and I am getting steadier – fewer double bogies. I continue this regime by hitting 40 balls before teeing off – finishing with half a dozen 3 woods, the club I will be using on the first two tees. Hit them really well – in fact bomb the last couple.
I am playing with Brian McAlinden and John Telfer. Two retired teachers who have been friends since their days at Jordanhill College. Really great company and an interesting mixture of erudition and Scottish humour. Feel like I have stumbled into the University Challenge episode of Still Game.
All my practice and confidence is shredded in the first two holes. A full description of the round in in the course section but the first two holes contain most of the horror.
No 1 – 341 yds. A lovely and ‘ straightforward ‘ opening hole. The course is very different from my last round however. The rough has been allowed to grow – the final Open qualifier is being held here on July 1st – and the result is that the drive looks tighter as the grass sways in the wind. Probably is – the fairway seems narrower as well. High tee with a great view to the mini dog leg green. Bunker about 235 out on the right hand side so the shot is a 3 wood on that with a draw. Against the breeze shouldn’t get to it. I don’t. Mainly because my timing is badly out and I push my drive. Barely 200 yds and into the heavy rough. Not the perfect start I had envisaged. Try to hit a 7 iron from a poor lie. Bad choice and bad execution. Grass wraps round the club and the ball scuttles 60 yds left into the semi on the other side. I tell myself to calm down, do and hit a good PW in to 20 ft but don’t hole the putt.
No 2. Not an ideal start but positively Platonic compared to the second hole. Short straight par four to an extremely narrow fairway, undulating like a corrugated iron roof and shaped to shrug shots off it into the rough and heather. It didn’t throw my drive off though – because I hit it directly into the rubbish. Identical strike to the first. Swing badly out of sync. Hands at the ball well before the body and not finishing. Ball bounced three times so I didn’t hit a provisional. Second of many mistakes! Lost!! Walked back to reload after a futile search feeling silly. That isn’t what I do. Concentrate. I did. So much so I hit it into the same spot! John was still looking for the first one so got a line on it. In deep heather. Lifetime heave to move it 10 yds back onto the short stuff. This is when my new consistency came to the fore. I hit an 8 exactly as off line as the two drives! Right. Into a hollow filled to the brim with more heather. Another great shot out which pitched on the right side of the heavily tilted green but then trickled gently off. Playing 7 and now the putt from hell. Across the very fast green, right to left break and the pin perched on a slope at the bottom of the green. Stroked it softly and thought I had left it dead. But no. Life in it yet and it tumbled down off the green. Looking at a 10 unless I get it dead from my new position. At last hit a good shot. Up to 12 inches. And hole it. Yes. Celebrate my 9 by swearing softly to myself.
Tipping point, step up to the plate, when the going gets tough, it’s now or never. Choose a cliche. First real crisis since the start back. John and Brian are supportive and that helps to lessen my embarrassment but I know I cannot afford another f… up or the whole project could decouple.
I manage to get it back. Really good drives on the next three holes, long and straight and I hit the greens in regulation on all of them. Only flaw is 3 putting the 4th hole from 20 ft but I make up for that by holing a 30 footer to save par on the short 6th hole. Keep it going. Par 7 and 8 but miss the green on 9 with a PW in my hand and drop another one to be out in44 with 18 putts.
The second nine is a bit more stable with my putting the main problem. I three putt 3 times, the worst at the par 3 15 where I knock my first putt to 18 inches and don’t even hit the hole with the next! I keep every number off my card apart from 4 and 5 and come back in 42 but with some great shots along the way. Particularly the drives and second shots at 16 and 18 which are both playing into a stiff breeze and are really par 4.5. Deserved someone who could finish them off!!
A good test of my technique, stamina and mental toughness on a very challenging course in a difficult wind. I didn’t exactly pass it – but more importantly I didn’t fail it which I could easily have done after my opening holes.
My companions helped immeasurably in this. Funny and encouraging. Exactly what golfers should be.
Green in regulation 11/18 – 61% reasonable in the wind
Fairways 9/14 -64% good
Putts 39 completely ridiculous even allowing that a number were long approach putts
Birdies 0 pars 7 bogies 10 quintuple bogies 1!!!!
All adds up to an 86 – my highest score yet.
The standard scratch for the day was 74 so with a nine on my card not as bad as I thought. I am trying to remember when I last had a nine or worse. Painful memories.
In the next two weeks I have lined up to play Loch Lomond, Turnberry and Royal Troon. Need to get my consistency and my driving/putting back for those challenges.