Niagara Men’s Tour: Niagara Parks Whirlpool GC

Well, my expectations were low for the Whirlpool GC stop on the Niagara Men’s Tour due to physical wear. The results matched my expectations, unfortunately. However, my poor play can be attributed to lack of mental toughness as opposed to my physical well-being.

Skies were overcast, thunderstorms were in the forecast but the wind proved to be the most intimidating obstacle, as it was howling in excess of 40mph.

I can honestly say I’ve never played tournament golf in windier conditions.

Ha. Now that the excuses have been made, let’s go through my very painful round in excruciating detail!

The first hole is a mid-length par four and I hit a perfect drive down the middle to start. My 8-iron approach into the wind fell short and I couldn’t get up and down.

I hit a slight pull on the very tough par four second and had some tree trouble. I tried to hit a low hook with a seven iron but it went dead straight into the pond fronting the green. I dropped, hit a good pitch to about 12 feet on the heavily sloping green and knocked the putt in for a ‘good’ bogey.

We now moved onto the 203 yard par three third, which was playing downwind. My towering five-iron landed on the green about 15 feet from the pin, bounced ten feet in the air and ended up in hardpan about 10 yards OVER the green. Wonderful. Did what I could with the lie and made bogey.

The fourth and fifth holes are reachable par fives under normal circumstances but today they were like mid-length par fours due to the wind. I hit a five-iron second into the greenside bunker on #4 and got up and down for birdie. Then on #5, I hit an 8-iron second shot (!) just off the green pin high but muffed the chip and settled for par.

So I’m +2 through five as we head back into the wind on the 205 yard par three sixth. My three-iron rescue is pulled left of the green and ends up right in a pine tree. I punch out, pitch onto four feet and miss the putt for a double. Ugh.

Nail my drive on the longish par four seventh to about 175 yards. I pick a four-iron for my second into the wind but I get indecisive when the wind subsides for a second and come out of the shot, with it going long right. I hit a terrible pitch shot 30 feet short of the pin and three-whack for yet another double.

I vent by destroying my drive over 330 yards on the downwind eighth hole to give myself a gap wedge approach. My stellar iron play continues as I hit 35 feet long and THREE PUTT AGAIN for bogey. I bogey the ninth hole as well and finish with a +8 44.

The tenth hole is about 450 yards but I nailed yet another great drive to leave myself only a pitching wedge second. The God of Golf continued to toy with me, as my shot landed about 5 yards short of the green and hopped all the way over, leaving myself a long pitch shot to the front pin. Another mediocre pitch and another three-whack means double bogey and +10 through 10.

I took my Pro V1 and tossed it over the road toward the Niagara Gorge.

I felt a lot better after that.

Finally made my second par of the day on #11 then bogeyed the par three 12th after my par putt cruelly hit the back of the cup and bounced out.

My great driver play continued on the shortish par five 13th but with the hole playing downwind, my shot went through the fairway and into a thick grove of trees. Ha! Pitched out and eventually saved par.

The poor finishing continued on the par three 14th and par five 15th holes, as I missed four footers on both and made bogey. +13 now through 15.

I only had a gap wedge into the 440 yard par three 16th and actually came through with a decent iron shot, my second of the day if you include my good strike on the third hole. I holed the birdie putt from about 10 feet and would par both of the last two holes to finish the round with a less-than-stellar 84, easily my worst round of the year.

I finished in a tie for 32nd in the tournament (out of 53) but only dropped to 13th overall after two events on the tour. Could have been worse, I guess.

Thankfully, the tour only uses the top five performances from the six events so as long as I don’t throw up another stinker, my Whirlpool score won’t be used to calculate where I end up.

Scores were actually pretty decent, with Bobby Goss coming in with a spectacular 71 (-1) and three guys finishing at +1. That’s great golf in those conditions.

It just goes to show that I have a hell of a long way to go before I’m a good player. Physically, I felt fine the whole round but I just couldn’t recover from the two doubles on six and seven, something I’m usually good at, hence ‘The Grinder’ nickname.

I can bounce back in two weeks at the third event, which is taking place at St. Catharines G&CC, my home course. Bernie tells me I’ll be playing in the last group with Goss, something I’m excited about. As Toast always says, I play my best golf when challenged and playing with someone as accomplished as Bob will only help in that regard.


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