Friday, April 4, 2014

Playing at Belleair Country Club and Laurel Oak West - always a pleasure to play on great golf tracks

So, as I mentioned before I let this month be a relaxed month of playing tournaments, collecting experience and preparing for a harder push starting the end of May. For that I am entered in a wonderful line up which started on March 31st 2014 with Laurel Oaks Country Club.

This event was put on by the West Florida Amateur Tour. Laurel Oak has been a great place to be for the past 3 years. Both courses, East and West are kept in great condition. The staff is exceptional friendly and helpful, the Pro-Shop is organized and well stocked. On top of that , I won 3 times there and was in the money other times. So those tracks are made for me.

Last Monday was no different. I played a good round of golf. Not because I had the best of drives or spectacular approach shots. But because I have my short game under control. I hit some fairways on the front and few GRs, but managed to bring in a 2 over front. Had a few more birdie opportunities but did not make a single birdie.

I started the back 9 with a good feeling and my first drive on the not easy 10 of the West Course was actually pretty good. Despite plenty of wind coming into us, I had a shot at the green, which I left short. A bad chip from a muddy lie paved the way to a bogey, which I only managed to get because of a great putt.

The rest of the back 9 was so and so. 2 bad holes helped to bring in a 42, which was very disappointing. The great news was that I made a very good birdie on 18. Good drive, nice second lay up , almost perfect approach and a very good putt. It was a good finish. I felt good about the round although there clearly was more possible. Laurel Oaks Country Club again was a good venture. No winnings this time.

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Had a good day rest on Tuesday to prepare for an event which was scheduled totally by surprise. The FSGA organized a tournament at Belleair Country Club in Clearwater Florida. There were several reasons why I wanted to play. Amongst them the fact that it is Florida's oldest Golf Club, further it was a stroke play event in which I have to play the back tees in the gross division, my good friend Adam Zaydel was playing and most important, this course also is a Donal Ross design. This is significant because next Monday we will have a shoot out at Sarabay Country Club in Bradenton and this club does not allow any amateur practice rounds any more. A new thing the members decided for.

Signing up for a tournament without ever having played a tough course is not exactly the best thing to do. The circumstances however spoke all for it.

We arrived there about 30 minutes before the start of the tournament. A little close and not exactly a lot of time to warm up. I did the best to get my routine in. Fell about 20 minutes short. I felt good though.

We started at 18. A 420 yard par 4. Had a good drive right away. My second shot was not too bad either. However, my LW chip and my putts were horrible to say the least. Leaving me with a 6. Number 1 all of a sudden looked different to me. Another 417 par 4. Tried to pass the fairway bunker on the right with my drive but came up just a few yards short. What followed was a sequence of events and mental errors leading to a 7. 5 over after 2 holes. Not exactly what I was looking for.

But experience and ability helped me to settle down and play the following 8 holes 3 over par. Missed some good birdie opportunities. Had good drives, was working the wind coming from the water pretty nicely and chipped it not close but to good distance. Best shot without a doubt was on 3. Had a huge drive into the wind and yet 189 into the wind and uphill. Got a good hybrid going and had 9 foot for birdie. Missed by less than an inch. Did not leave it short. That was the best part.

Getting a 42 out of the triple bogey on number 1 was not exciting, but at least I found some confidence. That did not show at all on the back 9. Funny how you can hit plenty of fairways, good approach shots and yet play a bad 9. My chipping on to the Ross Greens was a disaster. Not to speak of my 3 3putts which I produced.

I enjoyed my round, worked with whatever I had on hand and was able to pull of some great shots from wherever I was. Had 3 penalties on the round. The result of this round was not one for the books. But Bellair Country Club ( West Course) for sure was a worthy practice round for Monday. I have to say though , that the greens at Sarabay Country Club are much more severe and faster. So we will see if I can get my LW and GW better going.

Some might say that shooting rounds like that has not much benefit and might even work against the player in terms of advertisement or goals. I disagree. It is how the player acts on it what will determine if there will be any kind of impact on his game or reputation. At this point of time, this round has no impact on anything.

It was a  pleasure to play this historical course and if I ever get a chance to get on it again, I will grab it and will be up for the challenge.

That last two days I spend time with one thing : Impact drills. It seems that I have some trouble to make solid contact with the ball. This results in problems with picking the right clubs for certain distances. I am flying to many greens and yet, sometimes I am 10 to 15 yards shot. It is true, that it is part of golf to be not perfectly on. But it would be nice to have more consistency.

The coming Monday we will fight it out at Sarabay Country Club in Bradenton. Always like this course. It is tough. The greens are fast and it is a challenge to keep the ball on the green with your approach. My goal on Monday: Hit the middle of the green. The past few rounds I was attacking every pin without hesitation. That left me with plenty of challenging shots. So I will do it different.

Go for the middle, give myself some opportunities and otherwise get a par out of it. There is 2 par 5s I can reach in two. It will depend on condition and feel if I will go for it.

Next Wednesday I finally get to play Lakewoodranch Country Club - The Kings Dunes Course. I am really looking forward to that one. Never had a chance to get on yet.  Following will be the 2 men team tournament Saturday and Sunday at River Run Golf Links. Looking forward to play this tight course. It will be fun to play with my friend Adam Zaydel yet again.

With our abilities together we clearly are due for a good result.

Last tournament before the big break will be Lakewoodranch again. Funny, they do not let you play a practice round either and I am lucky to be entered in the FSGA event.

After we successfully completed all this events, there will be a break. This break needs to be used to relax, rethink and re-plan. Came a long ways, but we are stuck and I am not satisfied with my daily routine in terms of golf. There need to be changes and improvements on all fronts.

Tomorrow practice is on the schedule. Going back to Terra Ceia Bay Country Club to work my impact and my short game. If possible play on Sunday a casual round. But that is a matter of finding a deal which makes sense. It is still season and the golf rates are still pretty high.

I am so looking forward to summer time here in Florida.

In all I feel good. Not physical fit yet and mentally still not strong enough. But my spirit is higher then ever. Simple reason for that : I just do not want to do anything else. This is it. We will accomplish the goal. At all cost.

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