There’s not a lot to play for competitively for the rest of the year so my focus on the course may start to falter a bit and that’s been quite apparent lately. After my final round 81 in the clubs, I went out last Saturday and played a really nice, solid round of golf – there was nothing spectacular, as I only made two birdies but I made even fewer mistakes, with a solitary bogey on the relatively benign par 3 14th.
I’d barely miss a birdie putt on the last and settle for a one under par score of 71, my third subpar round this year.
That obviously gave me some confidence heading into Sunday’s round, which was the fifth leg of the 2010 Niagara Men’s Tour. We were supposed to play the Stanley Thompson-designed Whirlpool GC but disease infected a number of their greens so we were forced to move the Tour to Links of Niagara at WilloDell.
I’m going to try to be as diplomatic as possible but simply put, WilloDell isn’t a very good golf course. They have recently fallen into receivership but you can tell the place needs some work, especially with the trees, which have overgrown to the point where a number of tee shots from the back deck are almost silly. The chutes in some cases are only about 10 yards wide and force you to start tee balls on lines that are borderline unfair.
I should have been carrying a chainsaw with me as my 14th club.
I started poorly with a three-putt on the par five first hole then hit as bad a tee shot as I can remember with my new driver, actually hitting it through the rough TWO FAIRWAYS OVER! Talk about a push!
I’d double that one and really, I’d never recover on a front nine of 42 (+6). I had a glimmer of hope when I hit the mid-length par five 10th in two shots and barely miss my eagle putt, settling for the birdie. I was only +5 through 13 and thinking I could salvage a decent score but I’d skull a greenside bunker shot on the tough par 3 14th on my way to double and fizzle in from there, finishing with yet another 81 (+9).
I finished way back in the pack and head into the last event at LochNess Links, one of my favourite local courses, in a tie for 16th place overall on the Tour. I actually have played well on the Tour this year but this poor finish at WilloDell combined with my missed event at Sawmill mean it’s going to be tough to finish in the top ten by year’s end.
As far as my game, I’m a bit off with my posture right now and my ball striking has suffered a bit lately. Putting seems to be okay but I’m just not comfortable over the ball right now. I may try to hit the range this weekend before playing just to get a few extra reps in.
On a positive note, I just got the news that I’ll be part of a foursome that gets to play the highly-ranked Thomas McBroom and Bob Cupp-design Beacon Hall, a course that seems to have permanent residence in the top ten courses in Canada.
We’ll be heading to Beacon Hall in a few weeks when our course is hosting the 2010 Canadian Tour Championship, the second consecutive year St. Catharines is hosting the Canadian Tour’s flagship event. Our club signed reciprocal agreements with a number of top courses in the province and I was lucky enough to win a lottery for the weekend Beacon Hall time.
A great surprise and I’m already looking forward to the experience!