Friday, February 28, 2014

Buckhornsprings Golf and Country Club - Florida State Golf Association tournament

My decision was made a few weeks ago. In order to get better I need to put my focus on stroke play tournaments in events where I play the furthest tee boxes I can get in to.
The FSGA is offering just that. Not only do they offer a great tournament format but they also do it for a good deal. You find a short review on my other blog.
I was aware, that without practice and without being in touch with a golf ball on a daily basis, my game would not be on top of the World. However, I need to play. I have not played a round of golf I weeks and had no chance to go practice and work on my game. Frustrating. But as I said before it was for a very good and enjoyable reason. For that, I take the time of with a smile. After all, family always comes first. But the time, that I will get back into my regular routine is only a week away and I wanted to play and be around golfers and on a new golf course. Buckhorn Springs Golf and Country Club sounded really good and the FSGA offered a one day event there which I could not pass. I never played there before , so I was excited that we were able to play a practice round on Wednesday. Imagine. 25 $ plus tax for a practice round on a private country club. Another benefit of this tour and association.
I went there with my friend Adam Zaidel. Good golfer from Germany and friend for years. We teamed up , which we should do more often, for this tournament. Drove there on Wednesday morning to see how the course is and so on. A practice round is a very relaxed round which has only one purpose, to get to know the course. In my review you will find more info about the course. The practice round was nice. We played only about 3 hours and 40 minutes. It was enough to see the course and get a feel for the greens. The course was not very difficult to map out. Not many hazards and I did not take too many notes. The layout was very good for my game. I have a natural left to right shot and the holes on this course compliment that. The greens seemed new ,which I knew will make it hard when they are freshly rolled. It takes a couple years for new greens to settle.
During the practice round I tried to just hit the ball and not focus on any work in regards to my swing. It worked out well.
Thursday was tournament day. Early start at 9 am. Not that this is an early tee time, but we are about 1 hour away from the course and with rush hour this can be a long way. Adam picked me up at 7 am. Being ready at 7 am means to me getting up at 5 am. I need about 2 hours to get ready before any tournament. Breakfast, coffee, reading some news, playing the course in my in my mind one more time and preparing the bag according to weather and my current diet. It all worked out well. I think I went to bed a little late. So the amount of sleep was, in my mind, not sufficient. Another little thing I need to work on and do it better. In this case , I was in good shape and felt rested and well.
We arrived on time. Checked in with Jeff, paid in my skin money and off to the chipping area. I have an easy routine. Right from the get go I had a good feeling with my SW and GW. My chips were all in good shape. So I moved on to the range after a shortened chipping program. Time was short anyway. I skipped the trap. My sand shots have improved a lot and I felt confident. On the range I usually start with a GW moving to a PW, a 7 iron, 5 iron , hybrid, 3 W and then driver. However, with that short amount of time I need to do a shorter version. Skipping the GW and 7 iron. My focus was on swing tempo. Then I quickly moved to my driver. Knowing that  my tee shot will be crucial on the long tee. Only with a long enough tee shot which settles in the fairway I have a realistic chance to get on the green in regulation on longer par 4s.
9 am was shot gun. I was ready and good spirit. My first tee shot was perfect. 250 yards right down the middle. My approach was long ( why I understood much later) but landed in a sandy and root infested area. My chip went long over the green by some trees. From there I had to play under the branches and right over a huge trap. I was able to get it of the ground and on the green from where I two putted. Not a good start, but I learned a couple things right away. The greens were like concrete and the areas around the green hard and without much grass when trees were around.
The double did not bother me and I continued to play my game as planned. The goal on this particular day was . Grip it and rip it and find fairways. From there try to give myself some chances for scoring. I have to say, that my drive was for the most part acceptable. I did hit plenty of fairways and at times with good length. However, I never really felt 100 % comfortable with my swing. My approach shots were not that great. I had to many 5 irons to hit into the green and at times a hybrid. Very hard to make them stop on those new greens and simply was hitting them to  far to the flag even though my plan was to play to the middle. I did not do a good job there. My short game was good. When 120 yards and closer I had no problems and my chipping was good as well. Because of my not so accurate approach I was in 10 green side bunkers. Of those 10 lies only 2 were actually flat on the bottom of the trap. Both of those I almost holed out. The other 8 were either downhill, uphill, sideways or buried. The good new is, that I was able to get every single shot on the green an within 15 feet or closer! My LW really works well for me in any trap. I switched to the LW so I can always use my full swing to go for it and even with short swings I can get it in the air. I saved some pars and that was great. Got some good practice in traps I have to say. How hard the greens really were I found out on number 9. I had about 128 to the pin with a little wind. But I was on the edge of the fairway trap with my feet about 1.5 feet below the ball, standing downhill with my body while the ball was on a flat piece of the same fairway. I was aiming to the middle and hit a good shot. That is what I thought. The ball landed on the fringe in front of the pin and I got excited. However, it bounced about 2 feet, went on to bounce one more time on the green, started rolling towards the left side of the green, rolled over the hump at the end of the green, down the hill, over the cart path, through some rough and stopped were? OB by about 1 foot. Unbelievable. For a second I was so surprised, that I almost forgot that I needed to hit another ball. Quickly I changed my club to a 9 iron ( I hit a way choked down 8 for my first shot to make sure I get it there without swinging to hard) and hit another shot. This time I had to hit much harder. Still had to grip down on the club because of my stands. Going straight to the pin I hit another good shot. This time I hit the green and I got excited again. Again the ball first looked like stopping, but then made it all the way to the fringe of the back side again. That made us realize how difficult the greens really are.
The second 9 my tee shot got better and better. I hit one fairway after another and my distance improved as well. Still had trouble with the greens and with reading my putts.
Over all I was happy with my swing and my strokes. Funny, how you can hit good shots and feel good about your swing for the most part and yet shoot a bad score LOL. However, I was aware, that I am not in my best shape, so I did not even worry about it too much. I always like to play my best and always like to win. This round I played to win and gave it all I had and in my mind it did not look too bad, but I was not able to get the ball in the hole fast enough. Had 4 3 putts! , one penalty, one hazard out which led to a double. Reading the putts was tough and I should take more time. I will work on that. My course management was pretty good. Worked the course well. Putting myself in position for birdie on par 5s, getting the ball on the green on par 3s or at least close ( was in 3 bunkers around the par 3s, saved par 2 times) . The short par 4s are no problem and the long par 4s I was struggling with because I was not able to get my 5 iron up in the air and my hybrid to spin. Unusual but that is what it was.
I am glad I played in this event. Maybe I did not win anything but at least I found out what shots I am so strong with, that even after not practicing for weeks I am able to get them out at  70 % or higher.
The immediate plan is to play one more event on the FSGA and one more event on the WFGT. After that I should be working with a swing coach for a week and then work on applying what I will learn for a couple months. If I progress faster, great, if not, then we take time. The WFGT might have a couple events in April which might be interesting. Mainly I will focus on the Golf Channel Tour, FSGA and qualifying events. All stroke play. This time all events will be planned, scheduled, entered way ahead, so we have a professional plan and can approach this project more professional then before. Further I need to work on my physical conditioning. Although I feel good and have no problems, I feel that if I have less weight, my endurance on the course is better and I can stay in better focus. Next I am in search of charity events, new income opportunities related to golf, play and otherwise and everything which can help to get us out in an RV and on the road to play and practice more. This weekend I might start to build my practice cage in the back yard. All I need then is a Flight Scope or Trackman and some other items and I am in great shape to work professionally on my game. Today I have light putting practice. Other then that it is admin day and writing day.
If there only would be a better blue print on how to approach all that. Maybe someone out there has some tips or ideas?

Monday, February 17, 2014

What a great day in Vegas

If there is one thing important in life, it is to understand that we live in the here and now and nothing else is truly of any importance. While sitting here waiting for breakfast on a perfect day it becomes clear yet again. It does not get much better. Blue sky, Sun, warm, waterfalls, being with your partner. Enjoying every breath. This gives so much energy . It refreshes my mind. It reminds why I do what I do. To live and not to exist. I collect so much energy here. I am so ready to go out, practice, play, work, follow my dream and fullfill my purpose. For There are some great months coming up. We have a brand new approach. More focus on golf,less on other things. More professional help and planning. 2015 we want to be on the road and play and travel. Web.com, NGA, Challenge and many more. Sky is the limit. So be patient. Watch and be amazed.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wedding in Las Vegas

The first two months of this year my focus was not only on golf, but also on our wedding. I am happy to report that we had a wonderful wedding with close family and friends in Las Vegas. We will spend some more time in Vegas. Just resting, planning and enjoying our incredible  suite. Vegas is a golf town, but there is no time to do any golfing. What there is time for is dreambuilding. That is what I will do as well. S a matter of fact being here is ideal for me to set some goals and objectives. I think one important thing what golfers forget to do is setting definite goals and timelines. One thing I am wondering about is , if I can actually play golf with my ring. Guess I will find out. I am so excited about my future in golf. Anything is possible.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

West Florida Am Tour event on Laurel Oaks West at Laurel Oak Country Club and more

We are in February and the year started slow as it was planned. While my practice level is at a low point for simple reasons like time, transportation and some other unavoidable yet important matters, I am able to get some things done at home in my practice set up. Which basically means hitting balls into a net and putting on a fast putting green. So yesterday I was ready to play the West Florida Amateur Tour event. Sunday I played a very promising skins game at Tatum Ridge. Put out a 5 over par 77 which on one hand was a good round and on another not so much, considering I had 8 makeable birdie putts and left most of them short and missed a couple by 1/8 inch or so. However, I hit plenty of fairways, had the par 3s under control and dealt with every challenge in a professional matter getting up and down for par. I actually hit one ball in the water and took a double bogey on the front. Considering those two holes, the 77 looks pretty good. So you might understand that I was pretty excited to go out on Monday and add to my successful play on the WFAT. One little thing I was thinking might interfere with my top form. Superbowl Sunday. Would not have been significant if not for two major reasons. 1. I lived in Seattle for 15 years, have family there and consider it my home town and 2. we had family over from Germany who were here for 1 day before leaving on a cruise. Now, if I would have played in a pro event of any kind as part of my income schedule and promotional tasks, both of those things had no meaning to me. However, I had a very late tee time and it was a smaller event. So There was no reason to not have a good time at Superbowl .
Turns out it was a good thing. I felt great in the morning and if there was any physical impact, I was not aware of it. A true fact is, that alcohol will impact your senses and interfere with your swing. I got to the course and went right to work on the chipping green and it felt just fine. Had good control over my balls and could keep it short and move to the range. Since we had a 1 hour delay on the course because of fog in the morning, I had plenty of time to warm up and get ready. After a little stretch routine I did my warm up routine starting with PW and working my way up to the driver. It felt good. Swing was nice and smooth and I made solid contact through out this routine. My driver was straight and felt workable as well. Next I went over to the short game area and there my main goal was to get my LW hot. I expected fast greens and wanted to make sure I can fly and stop my ball as often as possible. This is my preferred way around the green. While many play the roller I like to fly it 3 /4 and then let it either roll out or stop it with some spin. My LW felt good and I moved on to some trap shots which also were in order. I am sure you can see why I felt pretty good. I was not tired and my warm up went well.
My round was a little bit up and down. My tee shot was good for the most part on all par 5s and most par 4s . I am pleased with my driver. Although I am not the longest player in the field, I hit a very high percentage of fairways, Mostly about 80 %. That is pretty good and gives me plenty of opportunity to get GR. GR normally translate in birdie chances and good pars. My approach shot was OK from 150 in and I gave myself opportunities. The approach shots from 175 to 210 where OK, but not as dialed in. The biggest challenge was my putting. When I hit the green I was able for the most part to make 2 putts. Only one three putt on the card. I missed some birdie putts yet again. Leaving them 1 inch or less short by not giving enough zipp to the ball or better said by not applying enough speed. I made one birdie putt from about 4 feet. But it will be a tough year if I need to get the ball within 4 feet on every hole to actually make a birdie putt LOL. I guess I can talk about the greens yet again. On Sunday we had a speed of 7 to 8. Which is horrible and you need a hammer to move the ball. Yesterday we had, per posting, a 10. But I am not sure if they were right. It seemed slower and the greens were bumpy and beaten up. However, I do not believe that other then 1 or 2 putts, the greens had any impact on my game. My lay ups on par 5s where all perfect and I was no further then 15 feet for my birdie putt.
The biggest challenge I had were par 3s. I literally only hit one green ! 2 par 3s I found the water. Saved one bogey and had to take one double. One par three I plugged the ball , but still was able to get a bogey out of it. I played 4 par 3s 4 over. Not good. Those are 4 lost strokes which are simply not necessary. But John Daly talked about it on his cd. He does not like par 3s. You have one shot and anything can happen. That is what happened to me yesterday.
I had 3 bunker shots and all were OK. On all three of them I scored points. Overall I was able to play well with what I found on the course. Had some very long and good drives and handled challenges pretty well, always going for the tough short and executing them decent.
I am not too far away to find my first par round on a good course. I can feel it and came close several. times. Just a shot there or a putt there. If all putts which were extremely close would fall, you could shave some 8 shots right there and are on the way to an under par round. But that is the nature of the game. Balls need to fall. My confidence when I am standing over those putts is not the best at this point and I need to work on it. However, I need to hang in because before our wedding next week and the time we spend away, not much will happen. I will play a couple tournaments and get some practice in. I need to stay on it. Play and play and play. Even without sufficient swing teaching and practice it is crucial to stay on the course and in competition. To challenge your swing and mind. One never knows what might come along. I have never felt more confident that I am getting closer to the breaking point. So , today we will do some good work on the range for a few hours. Putting will be a big part of it. Short game as second part and then some irons. Only few drives and woods. I feel comfortable and just want to keep my feel. On Thursday I get to play a great golf course. Long Boat Key Harbor Side. The FSGA will hold an even there and I a lucky to be registered. Not sure which flight I am in. I was planning to play the gross only flight. But will take any. They all play the same tees. 6500 will be the length. Not to bad. Still short compared to what I need to master, but a good challenge. I am excited and look forward to be out. As a matter of fact, I can not wait to be on the range today. Fact is, that I feel best when practicing , working on my game, playing a round of golf and even better when in a tournament. Whenever I have my clubs in my hand I feel like I am doing what I am supposed to do and is that not what we should feel when we do things? I found my purpose and now it is a matter of working it and keeping at it at all cost. 1st step right now ? Coffee and breakfast LOL.