2020 Year in Review Part One – The Game

Despite a season that started five weeks later than usual due to the coronavirus pandemic, I’m guessing you’d be hard-pressed to find a golf-nut that didn’t exceed their round counts from the previous year.

I’ll always look back on this year as one of the most challenging in my entire life from a business and emotional perspective. 2020 can go to hell!

But there is no question that many of us were able to gain a measure of solitude on the links in 2020, a place where we could get some exercise and maintain friendships in a socially-responsible way. The golf business flourished as a result, with packed tee sheets and unprecedented demand for new equipment, as thousands of new players took up this great game across the world.

As usual, this will be a three-part series, starting today with “My Game”, unquestionably the most boring piece for my readers but something I like to write for the sake of posterity. I’ll follow that up with posts about “The Courses” I was fortunate enough to visit in 2020 and finally, “Looking Ahead” to the 2021 golf season and the uncertainty that still persists during this pandemic.

The Game

I started 2020 with a 5.3 index and started the year off quite well, getting down to a season-low index of 4.2 in late June. However, lackluster play in July and August saw my handicap rise significantly and I’d start trying some new things, none of which really worked.

By late October, my index rose to a season-high 7.3 and that’s where I’d finish the year, two full shots worse than 2019 and likely the highest my index has been in over 15 years.

Honestly, it was a very weird year for me from a scoring perspective. When I was at my best about 12-15 years ago, I was an ultra-consistent player, with most of my rounds within a few shots of one another. Nothing spectacular but nothing truly bad.

Fast forward to 2020, where I was thrilled to break par for the first time in four years (a one under 71 in mid-August) and also came through with a couple of even par scores of 72. However, I also shot 85 or worse a whopping 11 times and failed to break 90 twice, including a season-worst 93 in a tournament late in September.

I was regularly making crippling double and triple bogeys and even had a few quads in tournament play this year. My ability to keep grinding during these tough times waned and my scores skyrocketed as a result.

That all said, it was great to have a handful of low scores, including that one under par round. While I will continue to search for more consistency next year, I’m just thrilled I still have those lower scores in me, even if they are few and far between.

Lookout0820
The scoring highlight of 2020 for yours truly, a one under par 71 at Lookout Point, my first sub-par round in close to four years
Photo by Now on the Tee

I posted 69 scores in 2020, up one from the year before but if you include scramble/alternate shot events and the times I teed it up with Evan at Brock Golf Course or Lookout Point, I actually teed off 81 different times in 2020, a pretty sensational number.

Moving to competitive golf, my tournament play in 2020, quite honestly, was a disaster.

My first event of the year was the Club Championship at Lookout Point and this was going to be the first “Member’s Major” that I played in since joining the club late in 2018. I was put into the A Flight and I shot rounds of 81-88, placing me 13th in the field of 15 and I would miss the 36 hole cut by a large margin.

I fared much better in Lookout Point’s Member/Member event. Playing with my good friend Terry S, we both played good golf over two days and ended up finishing in 15th place, a fine finish in a field with a whopping 76 teams!

I also played in my first three GTA Amateur Tour events, as I took the decidedly big leap back into “real” tournament golf. Once again, it was an unmitigated disaster.

I actually put up a very respectable 81 at Dundas Valley G&CC in my first GTA Am Tour event, especially when you consider that I started off the tournament with a NINE on the first hole. I’d ultimately finish in 21st place out of the 36 players in the Championship flight in that event.

In mid-September, I teed it up at the very difficult Mad River GC and my start was just as shocking, as I’d be +9 through 4 holes and shoot 47 on the front nine alone. I’d make only one par on the back nine but thankfully, sprinkled in amongst the bogeys were three back nine birdies, as I’d finish with an 88 and somehow finished 11th (!) out of 23 players in the Championship flight.

The low-point of my season came in my third GTA Am Tour event, held in late September at the lovely Maple Downs G&CC. I wouldn’t make a par until the 7th hole and couldn’t even sniff a birdie, shooting an unsightly 93 to finish DFL out of the finishers in the Championship flight. A truly demoralizing experience, one that basically proved I just can’t cut it in real competitive events any more, at least with the “game” I have right now.

All that said, I just want to say how amazing the GTA Am Tour truly is – they have an incredibly devoted volunteer group, a wonderful organizer and all the people I came into contact with or played with were first-class individuals. I’m not entirely ready to give up hope of playing on that Tour again, as the courses they visit are absolutely top-notch. But I will definitely need to elevate my game considerably before signing up again.

For the second consecutive year, I played in the Thursday Men’s League at Lookout and that was great fun, even if things were restricted severely by COVID. It was a treat getting away a bunch of times on Thursday afternoons throughout the summer.

Finally, I would play in my first ever “Fall Two-Ball” at Lookout Point on Thanksgiving Monday, an event that was started up by my friend Brett in 2019 and essentially a tournament that mirrors the one I started back at St. Catharines G&CC nine years earlier, the “Turkey Two-Ball Championship”.

Somehow, I was an “A” player in The Fall Two-Ball and I was picked second last by my good friend Harris – we were both struggling immensely at this late point of the season and we were practically praying we’d get to play together, just in order to avoid the embarrassment of being an anchor to someone who actually had a chance to win!

As you’d expect, we struggled, shooting a best ball score of 77 (+5), which placed us second last in the field of 12 teams. But we had a great time playing together, as usual.

I’ve got lots of work to do in 2021. There is a good chance I’ll be in the market for new equipment, as my whole bag is antiquated, with my metal woods and irons being over six years old. But I really need to work on my body in the offseason, increasing my flexibility most importantly but also my general fitness levels. I’m also hoping to play more golf with Evan next year – we did play ten rounds together in 2020, a pretty solid number but hopefully we can come close to doubling that next year.

COMING SOON:

2020 Year in Review Part Two – The Courses
2020 Year in Review Part Three – Looking Ahead

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