Sunday, May 28, 2006

Preview: Niagara Men's Tour at The Grand Niagara Club

I tee off in about two and a half hours at Rees Jones' Grand Niagara Club for the second leg of the 2006 Niagara Men's Tour.

I finished in a tie for 21st at the first event held earlier in the month at Bridgewater and I'm hoping for a better result this afternoon.

My game is in a weird state right now: my putting and chipping are absolutely phenomenal at the moment - likely the most consistent and solid it's ever been. However, my iron play is really poor and it's something I'm going to try to work out before I tee off later today. I've been hitting very few greens in regulation (averaging seven a round) and that is taking it's toll on my score.

Grand Niagara is only about a year old and is in fantastic shape for a new club. The fairways are running pretty quick and the greens, while slower than average due to the prevalence of Poa, run very true.

I had the chance to play a practice round out there recently and found the course from the Gold Tee deck (approximately 6900 yards) to be much easier to navigate than from the back tees we played last year. Funny thing is that my score didn't improve at all - I shot 83 both times I've played.

The key at Grand Niagara is staying out of trouble off the tee and keeping the ball short of the hole at all costs. Jones extensively makes use of collection areas around the green and almost all of them fall off at least ten feet from the putting surface, making for almost impossible up-and-ins. Every green on the course features a huge ridge of some kind, placing a premium on the location of the approach shot.

I won't bore you with my complete gameplan here but I will make a point of using irons and rescue clubs on a few of the par fours to stay out of hazards and will doing my best to just aim for the middle of the greens throughout the round and count on my hot putter to bail me out.

I'll report back on my success tomorrow if I can.

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