Niagara Men’s Tour – Event Two (Grand Niagara)

What a gorgeous weekend weather-wise we had. Beautiful sunshine and temperatures warm enough for shorts both days.

English Dave would not approve, I’m sure.

Nevertheless, we got in two rounds of golf this weekend. I played with Wes and Gary on Saturday and shot an 80 from the back tees. Not a great score but I wasn’t upset – I’m starting to hit the ball a lot better and I just had trouble making putts, getting a few bad breaks on the greens.

I’ve basically reverted back to my regular swing, playing for my normal draw and I’m starting to see some better results…slowly but surely.

So I went into the second leg of the Nevada Bob’s Men’s Tour with a bit more confidence in my game. The weather was perfect: 18 degrees, sunshine, barely any wind.

Still, my first shot of the day on the 425 yard par four opener was snapped into the hazard and I’d miss a six footer, making a double bogey in the process.

Lovely start.

It would get better…and by better, I mean worse.

I’d come out of a little 9-iron on the short par three second and my ball was pretty much dead, down a huge chipping swale with the pin cut high above. I’d have to hit a flop shot and executed it perfectly, with the ball landing about ten feet past the hole and coming back down the slope to finish about five feet away. I’d ram that one home for the satisfying par and I was appropriately settled down.

I’d get up and down on the 424 yard third hole for par but three whack the par five fourth, making bogey, before settling in to the round.

I’d par the fifth and also the extremely difficult 203 yard par three sixth, playing more like 215 uphill to a back pin. I’d hit an all-world 4-iron to the middle of the camelback green and two putt that one.

I’d start to get a bit frustrated on the par four seventh – I’d hit a mediocre drive into the fairway bunker but hit a missile of an 8-iron to about 12 feet, giving myself a great look at birdie. But I’d continue to have a heck of a time on these greens, leaving the putt short and tapping in for par.

The greens were much slower than I’m used to and I had tremendous difficulty getting the ball to the hole all day.

I’d have a huge hiccup on the shortish par four 8th hole, hitting my second shot into the greenside bunker and leaving my first attempt in the sand. I’d blast out from there and two putt for the crippling double bogey.

I’d end the front nine by crushing my drive on the 525 yard par five, leaving only about 230 yards into the green. I’d hit a nice hybrid but ended up in the back greenside bunker and again wasn’t able to get up and down, making a disappointing par for a 41 on the outgoing side.

The back nine wasn’t any better. I’d get a HUGE BREAK to start on the 385 yard 10th hole, when my snap hooked 4-iron tee shot took one bounce toward the water, hit a rock and ricocheted right back into the middle of the fairway. Lots of laughs for that one. I’d par there and also on the 11th but run into major problems on the par three 12th, one putting for a double after hacking it around the bunkers (again).

I’d play decently on the way in, and had about four great looks for birdie inside 15 feet, making none and getting none to the hole. I even three whacked from 15 feet on the tough 16th.

I’d end up shooting an 83 on the day, matching my score from the first event. Scores were ridiculously high and two of my playing partners shot in the 90s, with one shooting 98. It was a tough day for our group scoring-wise, that’s for sure.

In fact, the winning score was 75 (+3), the highest winning score in Tour history. There was really no reason for it, although many (like me) complained about the slowness of the greens at Grand Niagara. Still, it was a perfect day weather-wise and the greens, at the very least, were consistently slow so good players should be able to adjust.

I couldn’t, hence the 83, which placed me T24th in the 57 man field.

Still, I hit eight greens and nine fairways on the day, both numbers much better than my 2009 averages so there’s a bit of hope.

The one real positive on the day was our pal Harris, who shot a scintillating 79 to finish in a tie for 10th, his first ever top ten on Tour and his first round in the 70s there as well. Congratulations to Harris and you can read about his day right here.

All hope isn’t lost for this blogger though. Last year, I started the first two events 81-83 at the same courses, only two shots different than this year. I’d go on to post a couple top fives, including my first ever win, in the last three events I played so I’ve got something to look forward to, hopefully, as we approach the dog days of summer.

Next event is in two weeks at our own stomping grounds at St. Catharines, a perfect place to hopefully get rid of this season-long slump.

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