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?

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