It’s been a tough year for my golf game, as my scores are over two shots per round higher than last year, on average and the highest it’s been since I started keeping track of my statistics.
Nevertheless, I was determined to keep a smile on my face throughout the competition, regardless of score and I’m happy to report that I was 100% successful.
In fact, I ended up exceeding my (admittedly) low expectations.
I shot a first round 78 (+6) on Saturday, going five over on my last six holes after starting out quite solidly. Only one over par on the 13th tee, I hacked my way up the fairway and made double, starting a downward spiral that pretty much lasted the rest of the weekend.
That said, I was shockingly tied for second place with Cal and another youngster, Jamie K but five shots behind five time club champion Mike K. Mike is a very accomplished player at the club and provincial level and without doubt, is way out of our league. We were all fighting for second place after that first day and anyone who tells you different is a liar.
The pins were exceedingly difficult on Saturday and thankfully were much more accessible on Sunday. However, the weather became a huge factor.
I played in the last group on Sunday with Cal and Mike, which was pretty exciting. Playing in heavy downpours, I hit eight of my first nine greens and ten of my first twelve! Awesome!
Umm, well, it would have been awesome except for the fact that my putting was worse than Billy Mayfair before he got his long putter. I three putted the first hole and FOUR PUTTED the benign 7th hole on my way to a ridiculous 21 putts on the front nine. I shot 40 with less shots than putts. Is that even POSSIBLE? Yup.
It didn’t get much better on the back. I’d three putt the 10th right out of the gates for bogey and bogey the 11th as well. Six over through eleven and NO CONFIDENCE whatsoever with the flatstick. I started hitting it poorly and ended the day with 12 greens hit but shot 80.
That moved me down into a tie for 6th position with Dr. Gary P, one shot back of both Jamie K and Cal, who was one better than me on the day. I was now 13 shots back of Mike, who had a commanding lead over the field.
Despite the bad round, I never once lost composure or my temper…I was just happy to be out there and thrilled I made the cut this year, which came at 164, likely one of the highest cuts ever. Harry barely made it on the number and was equally as thrilled to be playing Monday.
I drew a good group on Championship Monday, playing with Cal again and young Jamie. I decided to change my putting style completely, usually a recipe for disaster in a big event. Instead of my normal wide putting style with a closed stance, I went to something a bit more upright and with an open, narrow stance. Cal thought I was nuts until he saw me dropping putts on the practice green.
Right away, the move paid dividends – I made a solid two putt par on the first then rolled in about a 35 footer for birdie on the second hole, the first putt all weekend over 10 feet that I made. I’d give it right back, and more, on the third hole, snap hooking my approach way left into a horrendous lie, hitting on and three whacking from about 40 feet.
However, my putter would actually keep my round semi-respectable, as I holed practically every short putt I had. The problem was I had too many of those shorties for bogey and my mediocre play caught up to me on the tough par three 12th, as I hit two balls into the water and made an unsightly quadruple bogey seven, just killing my round.
Still, no anger and I actually kept a smile on my face.
Cal – “Uhhh, is that a six?”
Matt – “Nope, it was a seven”, I quickly answered with no emotion.
Seriously, I was just happy to be playing and after bogeying the next hole, I actually played par golf coming in, making a solid birdie on the 15th but horseshoeing my attempted par putt from ten feet on the last hole to shoot an 82 on the last day.
Scores were high on Monday due to crazy winds that just gobbled up balls. There were only four rounds in the 70s in our flight, and our boy Harry was one of them, shooting a fine 77 to finish in a tie for 8th overall, his best finish ever.
He was one shot back of me, as I finished in a tie for sixth, same position I started the day and tying my best ever finish in the club championships.
Cal also shot 82 on the day and finished alone in fifth, one shot better than me.
The happiest part of the day was walking off the 18th green and seeing my nine month old son Evan waiting for me. Awesome! See below for a picture of my little guy and his grandpa, taken just this past weekend.
Kudos to all the professional staff and groundskeeping staff at St. Catharines for the tremendous job they did on the weekend. It doesn’t matter who I was talking to, whether it was Cal or Harry, or Joe T or Ryan B, we all think Club Championship weekend is the highlight of the year.
It’s competitive but ultra friendly and the post-round chats about our rounds over plenty of suds makes the weekend. We all want to win that tournament SO BAD but just playing on the last day in front of the big crowds is always a thrill for a club golfer.
I love this event and already can’t wait until next year. I know one year I’ll make a run at this thing!