Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ontario Better Ball Qualifier Preview

My buddy Harry and I will be attempting to qualify for the Ontario Better Ball Championship that is being held at Oakdale Golf & Country Club in May.

The qualifier is tomorrow morning at Bridgewater Golf & CC in Fort Erie. 36 two-man teams will be attempting to move on from our particular qualifier - there are seven other qualifying locations so I assume there will only be about four or five spots available.

My game is pretty decent early in the year and I'm coming off an interesting weekend of play.

Toast, Bernie and I played together both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a pretty dreadful morning weather-wise, with a steady drizzle and temps around 10 degrees.

I started very poorly, going +5 through the first six. I parred the final three holes to close the front side with a 41. That's when the craziness began.

My next seven holes? Birdie, Double Bogey, Birdie, Birdie, Bogey, Birdie, Birdie. Five birds in seven holes but I'm only -2 to show for it. I'd bogey the 18th to shoot 35 on the back and 76 overall.

I kept the solid play going for a little while in today's round. We started on the back nine and I almost aced the 12th hole, coming so close that both Toast and Harry were convinced it was in the hole and started high-fiving me. Turns out the ball came to rest about a 1/2 inch directly behind the hole, hiding behind the flagstick.

I ended up missing about a six footer on the 13th for another birdie but came through on the par five 15th to get back to even par. Two bogeys on the remaining three holes meant a 38 (+2) on our first nine.

The putting stroke then started to fail me, especially on the many five foot, right-to-lefters that I kept getting. Usually, those are the desired breaks for right-handers like myself but I had enormous difficulty today, missing seven putts inside five feet, all of them right to left and all of them just on the low side.

I was in a pretty surly mood, even though Toast was in the midst of a career round. I ended up draining about a 35 footer on our last hole, the long par four ninth, for birdie to end the day with a 79. Toast made a five footer for par on the last to come in with a 70 (-2). Congrats again to Toasty, who was money with his irons all day and didn't miss one makeable putt - I'll take a shot aside from now on! ;)

I'm relatively pleased with my start to the year and look forward to tomorrow's round. Harry had a tough weekend but seemed to be coming around on the back nine today, where I'm pretty sure he broke 40. My guess is that it will take a 70 or so to make the top four, a pretty difficult task.

I don't have any expectations other than having a good time. I love competition and will be giving it my all but regardless of what happens with our score, I won't get too serious out there.

Check out the post I made on
May 8th last year for a little preview of what to expect at Bridgewater. That post talks about my experiences there for the Niagara Men's Tour's first event in 2006.

As far as a gameplan, I intend to be very aggressive all day. Harris is naturally aggressive while I usually lay back and play a more analytical style but the format obviously favours birdies so I think I'm going to go for broke a bit more often. The first hole always seems to get me, a 423 yard par four with a creek that bisects the fairway at about 275 yards.

I usually lay up on this hole with a rescue club but will be pulling driver tomorrow, barring a swift downwind breeze. I still don't know how we'll handle the honours - whether to always go first myself, have Harris go first or just wing it. I figure I'll end up going with a system that makes him comfortable, since he's playing in his first provincial event and may have a couple butterflies.

Either way, I'm looking forward to the day and will throw up a post tomorrow night with details on how things went. Wish us luck!

Monday, April 23, 2007

First Rounds of 2007 Are in the Books

It was an absolutely gorgeous spring weekend here in the Northeast, with spectacular sunshine and temperatures above 20 degrees both days.

That meant it was finally time to put the new lawnmower and barbeque together, put up the canopy on my patio and do some other general spring cleaning.

Most importantly, it meant that we could hit the golf course for the first time this season!

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with how the rounds went. I finished double bogey, bogey, birdie on Saturday to shoot a 75 (+3). It was one of those rounds where it probably looked like I shot in the low-80's due to poor driving and ball striking.

Toast couldn't believe I came in with a score that low.

However, my chipping was pretty awesome for the first time out and my putting was real solid too.

Sunday's round saw more of the same, with even bigger struggles with my driver. However, my iron play was much better and I hit a bunch of greens on my way to a outgoing nine of 37 (+1).

The back nine saw me get a little loose with my putting and concentration, as I three-whacked FOUR times on my way to an incoming 41 and a 78 (+6) overall.

Still, a really good way to start the year and I won a few bucks in skins and sidegames as well.

I continued to test out the TaylorMade R7 TP's with good success but am still undecided about a course of action on wedges. I've trialed both the Titleist Vokey Spin Milled and the TaylorMade RAC's and will have to come to a decision soon, as my first tournament of the year is coming up on Monday next week...

Harry and I are attempting to qualify for the GAO Ontario Better Ball Championship that is being held at Oakdale CC this year. Our qualifying site is Bridgewater CC in Fort Erie, a course I'm now very familiar with.

I don't fancy our chances much, as there are a lot of veterans out there with infinitely more experience in these provincial events than myself, as I played in two Ontario Juniors but have never qualified for a senior event. It's also important to note that this will be Harry's first experience in a provincial event so butterflies might be a factor as well.

I expect Harry to carry the team, since he's spent the last week honing his game on world-class courses in Arizona while the rest of us common folk labour away at our jobs.

Nevertheless, I look forward to the experience and I imagine we'll have a good time regardless of what we shoot. I'll have a preview of that event by the weekend.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Let the Posting Begin

The Masters weekend has passed and with it comes the start of golf season in Canada.

I don't really have much to say on the tournament. I literally fell asleep on the couch on Saturday afternoon, obviously worn out just watching the best players in the world chip out from the trees, three-putt the dried out greens and generally look hopeless on the ridiculously difficult Augusta National.

The committee finally realized that the tournament is supposed to bring EXCITEMENT rather than yawns and set the course up to play much easier, relatively speaking of course, on Sunday afternoon.

But, as Ian Andrew indicated on his blog, it was likely 'too little, too late'.

Kudos to Zach Johnson, who now becomes the Larry Mize of this generation with his Masters victory, only his second on TOUR in his career.

I don't mean him any disrespect, however. He deserved the victory, playing great in the clutch with Tiger charging from behind. Johnson must have heard the roars emanating from Amen Corner after El Tigre's eagle on 13 but he held firm, making a huge birdie on 16 that gave him some much needed wiggle room down the stretch.

Johnson also thought his way around the course really well, not once going after a par five in two the whole week. He indicated that his game plan was to lay up every time unless he had a four-iron or less in his hands.

Sounds a lot like a certain Canadian lad four years ago, doesn't it?

So it's now April 11th and snow continues to fall sporadically here in the Niagara Region. I was lucky enough to get out and play nine holes twice a couple weekends back when the temperatures were a bit milder.

Our course was in surprisingly good shape considering the crazy winter. It was fun getting out, even though we had to withstand a pretty substantial downpour during the second outing.

I even got to test out the new R7 TP's that I was longing for in my last post. I wasn't disappointed but will give them another test drive when I get out again.

We got hit with another blast of winter over the Easter weekend so there was no golf on the schedule. The pins were back in this morning, I noticed, so I figure we'll be out in full force this weekend.

You can look forward to regular posting again now that the golf season is upon us. I plan on putting together one golf course review per week but we'll see how things go...

The Sabres are just starting their playoff run so I'll be attending all of the home games on their quest for Lord Stanley. You can keep up with their progress over at Bleeding Blue and Gold, my own Sabres blog, although I've been a bit delinquent with that site as well.