Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lakwoodranch Country Club, Sara Bay Country Club - playing tournaments with the WFGT and FSGA and more

Home after another perfect golfing day. But first a few days back. My practice time is pretty much zero at this point. I only can work on my game at home. Pretty simple. No transportation to my practice facility. That makes it difficult to go out and do what I need to do. Never the less, I am working on my game. Did some good work on my putting. Trying to get back to my old putting stands and swing. Not easy, but seems to be the right way to go. On top of that I am working the Haney practice work out. 100 swings a day. Last I do the smash bag in the garage and the chipping all over the house and the yard. All together that is working well , but for sure no supplement.

Last Monday we had the West Florida Amateur Tour Event at Sara Bay Country club. Always a tough course to play. The greens are severe. Donald Ross design. Elevated and like humps. Either you are on the green  or you are not. It was super windy yet again. But this time no rain and it was not cold. Pretty nice day.

Played a good round of golf. Was able to get the ball safely to the green. Not many GRs. But my short game was in good shape and so I navigated well through this tough conditions. Many shots had to the thought through several times. Club selection was simply not easy. Gave myself some good opportunities. 2 of them I converted into birdies. The first one on number 5. A short par 4 with lots of trouble in form of water hazards and bunkers. Picked the right club twice and had a 2 foot birdie putt after a great approach which I was able o stop right there.

The other birdie was my favorite. Hole 13. A long par 3. It played 199 and into the wind. I figured about 220. Put a nice fade in the middle of the green and sank the 15 foot putt as if I am doing this all day long.

My drives were straight, but only a couple reached the 280 mark. So there is work to do. In all I had a good 2nd place finish. That always helps to get some confidence back.

Today I finally had the pleasure to play the Kings Dunes Course at Lakewood Ranch Country Club. The two courses there eluded my play for years for all kinds of reasons. Since we play there next Monday , I thought this to be my practice round for that tournament.

FSGA stroke play in Gross Division. I love this format. Playing this format will force me to get longer, better and work harder. Much better then the other games we play at times. Had a rough start. Got stuck in traffic. That resulted in me being there just in time. I had about 5 LW shots and a few chips I could make. We started on 16. I liked that. So I had the finishing holes to start he round. I started good with 1 over par on those 3 holes. That gave me some good confidence, which I needed on that course. What a beautiful golf course and what a tough golf course. We only played 6600 yards, but that was enough for me to work hard. I had no yardage book and none of my partners had played this course before.

Pretty much every tee shot was by feel. My goal was to keep it in the fairway and see if I can work my approach to the green. My tee shots worked out OK I must say. Was able to keep it in play. Only 2 tee shots were errand. One in the water and one almost in the water. Both ended in a double bogey. Not because of the tee shot, but because of a poor first putt after getting on the green.

It was fun to play. You need to be accurate on that course. There is no forgiveness at all. If you make little mistakes, you might get punished. I found that out on 3 holes. The first one I mentioned. But more difficult to take were the two par 5s. One I took an 8 and one a took a 7. On both holes I was within 90 yards with my second shot. On both holes I attacked the pin and on both holes I hit the green but the ball went of to the side into a deep collection area.

Both times I tried my LW and both times I left it short. Absolutely amazing. A pure mental error. Wrong club, wrong swing. I usually am taking full advantage of par 5s. Not this time. The par 3s I played 1 over par. So I can live with that. Interesting was hole 14. This hole played 200 to the pin, straight in to the wind. About 220 or so. I put it on the green and had a 28 foot birdie putt. I actually left it short and missed my par putt. Amazing.

Over all I am satisfied with my play. I had 3 lip out birdie putts which I converted to par. Had 8 more birdie putts. Left 2 short and missed the rest by as much as less than an inch. My drives were good and although the fairways look tight and are tight at times, I hit plenty of them. My lay up shots on par 5s are all good. Just need to putt them on the green so , that they do not roll off after hitting the green.

All other approach shots were OK but not close enough. My biggest struggle was from collection areas. I clearly need to change the club from there and play a different shot.

One of the facts which strike every time I play a course like this is, that those tracks are tougher and longer than what we otherwise play. Only if I can play golf courses like that I will be able to improve. When forced to hit it longer and more accurate, you will learn that.

I am looking forward to Monday. We will play the same course and this time I will be in time to warm up. Further I now know the course a little better and there will be a few tee shots which I will do different for sure. Also I am now aware of the space which is actually available behind the greens and in some of the fairways. So I will have more confidence.

Not sure about the greens. They were not that fast I thought. But hard to read. Good looking greens I must say. I just like this place. Beautiful, tough, demanding, not forgiving and a great facility coming with it. I can not wait to get back there on Monday with the West Florida Amateur tour.

But first we play the 2 men combo tournament at River Run Golf Links in Bradenton. A tough and tight little course. This is a fun tournament. 4 formats. 9 holes better ball, 9 holes scramble, 9 holes shamble ( no idea what that means) and 9 hole modified alternate. This will be a fun weekend and I am playing with my German friend Adam Zaydel. Adam is a good golfer and this will be our fair well event as a team. He will be leaving to Germany next week.

I love it. This week is all about competitive golf. If I could get the practice done and other parts of the golf life, this would be exactly how we picture our weeks. One thing I have to tell myself. I am playing well for what I have on hand. My distance is by far shorter than the distance of the other guys in my group. I am old enough to be a father to most of the young guns out there. Also I do not get the practice most of those players have with coaches. In the end, I am doing well and am only a few shots, yards and tweaks away from being where I want to be. I am excited that we are that close.

So I will finish this spring season with fun and ease and then we will get ready for a full force pro approach starting mid May. Tomorrow a light practice and I am ready for 3 days of golf. Anyone had any experience with those formats I wrote about?

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