Niagara Men’s Tour: St. Catharines G&CC

The third leg of the 2007 Niagara Men’s Tour took place at my home course, St. Catharines G&CC on Sunday afternoon.

I had the last tee time of the tournament at 2:37pm and was to play with Bob G, the points leader on tour this year. I was really excited and anxious for the event.

So much so that I arrived at the club at 12:15pm, well over two hours early, breaking with my normal “out of the trunk and to the tee” routine.

I think it really cost me and allowed the nerves to kick in.

I chilled out in the 19th hole with the Sunday morning regulars and had numerous well-wishes sent my way. The home-course pressure was building.

I killed an hour before heading to the range for the second time in two days, a record for me. Hit balls for about twenty minutes then hit the new short game facility for the first time.

Pretty awesome chipping area we have now and it will even be better if they get the greens rolling similar to what is on the actual course. I fooled around there for about another twenty minutes and then found out that we were about 18 minutes behind on times.

Great. More delays.

We finally hit the tee around 3pm and I proceeded to shank my first tee shot straight into the willow alongside the tee box.

Wonderful start pal.

I pitched out to about 150 yards, hit on and two putted for bogey. Could have been worse…

I snapped my drive on #2 right beside the 17th tee in a huge swale area and once again had to pitch out. From 100 yards, my third shot nestled into about five feet and I made it for the unlikely par.

Alright, let’s get moving!

Umm. No.

After a mediocre drive on #3 just left of the fairway, my 6-iron approach went about 15 yards right of the green, over the bunker and over the cart path. My goodness. I hit a good pitch but the firm greens weren’t receptive and the ball rolled 30 feet by. I would THREE PUTT that for a lovely double.

Three holes in. Three over par. One hour and five minutes.

I kid you not. Gosh these guys are slow on this tour.

So we had a 15 minute wait on the par three fourth and I hit my first good shot of the day to about 18 feet. Thinking birdie, I three whack AGAIN and now I’m +4 through four.

I semi-skied my drive but the 438 yard fifth hole was playing downwind so I only had about 175 in. I hit a nice six-iron to the back pin location but it went long. I hit a poor chip to 8 feet but made the par putt with the St. Catharines Standard photographer taking pictures of us beside the green.

They don’t put pictures of guys in the paper that are +4 through five though. Ha.

I continued to hit the ball like a 25 handicapper (maybe that’s an insult to 25 handicappers though) but kept grinding away as usual. Snap hook drive on six, great recovery to 105 yards, wedge to 15 feet and a two putt for par.

Pushed my tee shot on the par three seventh, hit a chip too firm but made a ten foot comebacker for another par.

Snapped yet another drive on the reachable par five eighth and had to hit a rescue three-iron just to reach the lower fairway. Best shot of the day left me only 105 yards in and I hit it to about 12 feet. Missed it but made par.

The 450 yard par four ninth saw me almost push my tee shot onto the driving range. Yeah, I was solid with the driver alright! Good 6-iron recovery just left of the green and I got up and down for par and a +4 40, not bad considering how poorly I hit the ball. One fairway and three greens hit on the front.

I lipped out for birdie on #10 and made par on #11 which brought us to the tough par three 12th and two groups waiting on the tee. Ugh.

Usually, I just stew in these situations then eventually hit my ball in the water and blame the slow play. This time, I just dropped to the ground and took a nap for 15 minutes.

When it was our time to hit, I nailed a great four-iron from 212 into the wind to about 25 feet. I was starting to figure some things out with the swing, as my hands were too high earlier in the round. I two-putted for yet another par.

#13 is arguably the best hole on the course, especially from the back tees. I picked this time to hit my best drive of the day – I just RIPPED it down the pipe. I let out a mock cheer after that one. Hit 9-iron in to about 15 feet and barely missed yet another birdie putt.

Par on #14 as well, my tenth in a row which brought us to the 578 yard par five 15th. I hit another excellent drive but hit just a horrible layup – I had great intentions, only hitting 8-iron but I put my best anti-left swing on it to avoid the water and hit it into the trees. Pitched out, hit short left, chipped on and two putted for a disappointing double.

I would recover by making my only birdie of the day on the par five 16th but bogeyed 17 and 18 to shoot an uninspiring 79 (+7).

I ended up finishing in a tie for 12th at the event and was happy to see that one of my regular playing partners, Bernie B won the tournament with a scintillating 69. I know it was really important for Bernie to play well at his home course, like it was for me – I’m glad one of us came through!

I was 12th overall heading into the event but actually fell to 14th overall due to the way the points are handed out.

I really am having difficulty off the tee for the first time all year and my iron play was horrible all day, as I hit a season-low six greens in regulation. I am thinking of going to a cut shot and might continue with my unprecedented range work this weekend in hopes of turning things around.

I am not too worried, as the putter is still working for me but I want to get to a point where I actually know where the ball is going to go after I hit it. I’m not there right now.

I will have to get there soon because once again, a leap of faith was taken and I was once again selected as a captain’s pick for St. Catharines’ Niagara Cup team. Very, very unexpected but I’m very appreciative of the opportunity. I just love this competition and I look forward to proving that I belong out there with all those excellent players.

On a sidenote, Toast, Harry and I are looking for a place to play on Saturday this weekend due to the Member/Guest at our club. Any suggestions from my readers? We would travel outside the region if the golf is good!

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