Finally! A Breakthrough Round!

I have been struggling with scoring on the golf course since late 2005, seeing my handicap balloon from 1.7 to the 4.4 I currently hold.

You can go back into the Now on the Tee archives for details on the best stretch of golf in my life, which took place in September of ’05. First, I came through with my career-low round of 68 at St. Catharines on September 3rd. I followed it up later with my second best score, a 71, two days later in the semifinals of the Newlands Cup, the club’s overall match play championship.

I had a little health-related setback in the middle of the month that is recapped here but that didn’t slow the game down much. I ended up placing second in the last leg of the ’05 Niagara Men’s Tour with an even par 72 at Beechwood GC and followed it up with a win in the final of the Newlands Cup, once again shooting 71 to win my second consecutive match play title.

Four rounds of par or better in about 25 days. I haven’t done it since and quite frankly, haven’t even come close.

My best score was a 74 last year and while I was seemingly playing solid this year to start, I just haven’t been able to put a full 18 hole round together.

Until this morning that is…

I barely got to the club for my 7:22am tee time and immediately stepped on the tee. I was playing with my good buddy Toast and fellow regulars Jon and Bernie.

I stripped my 4-iron tee shot off the par four opener right down the pipe and we were off. I two-putted for par on the first and was then able to sneak home a tough 18 footer for birdie on the mid-length par four second to get into red figures.

I drove into a fairway bunker on the third but hit a fantastic nine-iron recovery from about 140 yards to about five feet. The putt hit the edge of the hole and dove out, leaving me with a disappointing par.

Routine two-putt par on four and I got into trouble on the long par four fifth. I drove it right into some trees but had a chance to hit a big hook out. I was able to escape but I couldn’t get enough spin on the ball, leaving me right of the green. I hit a terrible chip shot and couldn’t make the 12 foot par putt, bringing me back to even.

I quickly got it back on the 555 yard par five sixth. I laid back to around 165 yards and played a six iron into the wind to about eight feet. I got the putt to fall for my second birdie of the day to get back to minus one.

Two putt par on seven and then a big drive on eight that gave me a shot to hit the green in two on the par five. The ball was sitting up in the rough from about 220 yards, with the downhill shot playing into a stiff breeze. I took out my two-iron and hit it long right into high fescue. Bernie encouraged me to hit a provisional and I snapped it into the trees left.

Ugh. Not looking good.

I had a good line on my original ball but neither Toast nor I could find it. Thankfully, Bernie found my provisional, which had spit out of the trees and was sitting directly in front of the creek about 40 yards short of the green. I was able to keep the ball under the trees on my pitch shot and it rolled to about four feet. I made that for the improbable bogey to save myself from a big number. Back to even par.

I hit my best drive of the day on the long par four ninth but hit a horrible approach just short of the greenside bunker. I hit a decent chip and made a six footer for par and a 36 on the front.

I felt pretty good and even told Bernie “I feel an under par round coming” after killing a drive on the reachable par five tenth. I left myself only 197 yards into the hole and smoked a 5-iron on the front of the green. I just missed it and my birdie was conceded to once again get into red figures.

I parred eleven and we reached the par three 12th, which was playing from the ladies tee due to some maintenance work going on over at the regular men’s tee. That meant only a 105 yard shot instead of 185, a nice bonus.

Toast hilariously said “Knock it in Bosela” as I lined up the shot and my gap wedge ended up loudly hitting the flag, with the ball coming to rest only four feet away. The guys on the next tee started clapping, I did a little bow and headed down the hill.

All of that and I miss the bloody putt! Damn it! That’s two short birdie putts missed.

I boomed another great drive on the difficult 13th to about 110 yards and my indifferent wedge went about 20 feet past the flag. I almost made that but settled for par once again.

That’s when the magic started for me. I hit a seven-iron on the 167 yard par three to about 12 feet and as I looked over the putt said “I like my chances here”.

Right into the middle of the cup it went.

I felt a bit cocky saying it but it’s rare when the cup looks big and it looked HUGE to me on that putt. I’m at two under now.

The 520 yard par five 15th saw me hit a poor drive, lay back to 160 yards and my six-iron into the breeze landed just on the front edge and bounced to within five feet. It did a little circle around the hole but my putt ended up dropping for my fifth birdie of the day.

I decided to play smart on the downhill par five 16th and hit a two-iron rescue off the tee down the middle. I laid up to 86 yards and was pretty much in-between clubs. Since I was a bit pumped up from the consecutive birds, I hit my 60 degree lob wedge and came out of it, leaving it in the fringe about 18 feet away.

Unbelievably, I made the hugely swinging right-to-lefter for another birdie to reach FOUR UNDER for only the second time in my life. Man, it was just my day…

I ended with a bit of a whimper though. My four-iron from 202 yards on the par three 17th was short right and my chip came to a rest about seven feet short. I missed it for my third bogey of the day. The difficult 18th was next and I hit a “good miss” on my drive, a bit of a heel shot but it was straight down the middle. I had an eight iron in and played it to about 25 feet. I really thought I could make it but it came up just short, giving me a par and a three under 69 for the day!

The second-best round of my life and my second venture into the sixties! I only hit 12 greens officially but it definitely felt like more, as my iron play was pretty spot on most of the day. 27 putts was solid on the aerated greens and I made more than my share, that’s for sure. We had 11 guys out today so that meant a pretty darn good day in skins too 😉

A lot of the credit has to go to the demo irons I’m playing. Well, they won’t be demos for long, as I was fitted for a new set of Taylor Made R7 TP’s earlier in the week. I can’t tell you how much I love those irons and should have my new set sometime next week. Hopefully they let me take the demos out again tomorrow!

Sometimes I REALLY love this game!

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