Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Niagara Men's Tour: Niagara Parks Whirlpool GC

Well, my expectations were low for the Whirlpool stop on the Niagara Men’s Tour due to physical wear. The results matched my expectations, unfortunately. However, my poor play can be attributed to lack of mental toughness as opposed to my physical well-being.

Skies were overcast, thunderstorms were in the forecast but the wind proved to be the most intimidating obstacle, as it was howling in excess of 40mph.

I can honestly say I’ve never played tournament golf in windier conditions.

Ha. Now that the excuses have been made, let’s go through my very painful round in excruciating detail!

The first hole is a mid-length par four and I hit a perfect drive down the middle to start. My 8-iron approach into the wind fell short and I couldn’t get up and down.

I hit a slight pull on the very tough par four second and had some tree trouble. I tried to hit a low hook with a seven iron but it went dead straight into the pond fronting the green. I dropped, hit a good pitch to about 12 feet on the heavily sloping green and knocked the putt in for a ‘good’ bogey.

We now moved onto the 203 yard par three third, which was playing downwind. My towering five-iron landed on the green about 15 feet from the pin, bounced ten feet in the air and ended up in hardpan about 10 yards OVER the green. Wonderful. Did what I could with the lie and made bogey.

The fourth and fifth holes are reachable par fives under normal circumstances but today they were like mid-length par fours due to the wind. I hit a five-iron second into the greenside bunker on #4 and got up and down for birdie. Then on #5, I hit an 8-iron second shot (!) just off the green pin high but muffed the chip and settled for par.

So I’m +2 through five as we head back into the wind on the 205 yard par three sixth. My three-iron rescue is pulled left of the green and ends up right in a pine tree. I punch out, pitch onto four feet and miss the putt for a double. Ugh.

Nail my drive on the longish par four seventh to about 175 yards. I pick a four-iron for my second into the wind but I get indecisive when the wind subsides for a second and come out of the shot, with it going long right. I hit a terrible pitch shot 30 feet short of the pin and three-whack for yet another double.

I vent by destroying my drive over 330 yards on the downwind eighth hole to give myself a gap wedge approach. My stellar iron play continues as I hit 35 feet long and THREE PUTT AGAIN for bogey. I bogey the ninth hole as well and finish with a +8 44.

The tenth hole is about 450 yards but I nailed yet another great drive to leave myself only a pitching wedge second. The God of Golf continued to toy with me, as my shot landed about 5 yards short of the green and hopped all the way over, leaving myself a long pitch shot to the front pin. Another mediocre pitch and another three-whack means double bogey and +10 through 10.

I took my Pro V1 and tossed it over the road toward the Niagara Gorge.

I felt a lot better after that.

Finally made my second par of the day on #11 then bogeyed the par three 12th after my par putt cruelly hit the back of the cup and bounced out.

My great driver play continued on the shortish par five 13th but with the hole playing downwind, my shot went through the fairway and into a thick grove of trees. Ha! Pitched out and eventually saved par.

The poor finishing continued on the par three 14th and par five 15th holes, as I missed four footers on both and made bogey. +13 now through 15.

I only had a gap wedge into the 440 yard par three 16th and actually came through with a decent iron shot, my second of the day if you include my good strike on the third hole. I holed the birdie putt from about 10 feet and would par both of the last two holes to finish the round with a less-than-stellar 84, easily my worst round of the year.

I finished in a tie for 32nd in the tournament (out of 53) but only dropped to 13th overall after two events on the tour. Could have been worse, I guess.

Thankfully, the tour only uses the top five performances from the six events so as long as I don’t throw up another stinker, my Whirlpool score won’t be used to calculate where I end up.

Scores were actually pretty decent, with Bobby Goss coming in with a spectacular 71 (-1) and three guys finishing at +1. That’s great golf in those conditions.

It just goes to show that I have a hell of a long way to go before I’m a good player. Physically, I felt fine the whole round but I just couldn’t recover from the two doubles on six and seven, something I’m usually good at, hence ‘The Grinder’ nickname.

I can bounce back in two weeks at the third event, which is taking place at St. Catharines G&CC, my home course. Bernie tells me I’ll be playing in the last group with Goss, something I’m excited about. As Toast always says, I play my best golf when challenged and playing with someone as accomplished as Bob will only help in that regard.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Men's Tour Preview - Whirlpool GC

Nothing major, just a quick preview of this afternoon's event on the Niagara Men's Tour at Whirlpool Golf Course in Niagara Falls.

Whirlpool is a classic Stanley Thompson design, the last course he designed before passing away. I'm not entirely sure what to expect from the field from a scoring standpoint but there will defintely be a few guys who go low out there.

To be honest, I'm not feeling great about my chances today. I'm completely beat-up physically right now after playing two hockey games in two days, including one yesterday where a mini brawl broke out.

I hate that stuff. Our team is made up of mid-30's guys like myself who just want to have fun but you get some of these young guys who think they belong in the NHL or something and take everything way too seriously. Long story short, they ran our goaltender and started throwing fists, we reacted and our goaltender got ejected.

This with about four minutes left in the game, us leading 6-3 and we had no subs. That meant we had to forfeit.

My legs are just killing me from the running yesterday and that's an important component of the golf swing. I'm going to try to loosen them up with a quick hot tub but I'm not really expecting much today.

Guess we'll see.

I'll be back with a recap either tonight or tomorrow.

Friday, May 25, 2007

An Ode to Boulder

My sister-in-law and my two nephews arrived from Boulder, Colorado on Monday evening and will be spending around six weeks in St. Catharines.

My brother-in-law Todd got a new job in the Seattle area so the family is relocating from Boulder to Redmond, Washington. However, their new place won't be ready for about four or five weeks so Andrea thought it would be a nice getaway for her and the kids to come and visit her mom and sister for awhile.

I'm certainly not as bummed about the situation as Andrea is but I loved my time in Boulder. They had a fantastic piece of property right in the mountains, with around 5 acres of land and a gorgeous, open-concept house. Skiing is supposedly fantastic there and it looks like I'll never get the chance to try the hills out there since they've moved out as of this past weekend.

That picture above is of me chilling out with a cold beverage after a lovely dinner back in August of '05.

Seems like it's been an eternity...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Finally! A Breakthrough Round!

I have been struggling with scoring on the golf course since late 2005, seeing my handicap balloon from 1.7 to the 4.4 I currently hold.

You can go back into the Now on the Tee archives for details on the best stretch of golf in my life, which took place in September of '05. First, I came through with my
career-low round of 68 at St. Catharines on September 3rd. I followed it up later with my second best score, a 71, two days later in the semifinals of the Newlands Cup, the club's overall match play championship.

I had a little health-related setback in the middle of the month that is
recapped here but that didn't slow the game down much. I ended up placing second in the last leg of the '05 Niagara Men's Tour with an even par 72 at Beechwood and followed it up with a win in the final of the Newlands Cup, once again shooting 71 to win my second consecutive match play title.

Four rounds of par or better in about 25 days. I haven't done it since and quite frankly, haven't even come close.

My best score was a 74 last year and while I was seemingly playing solid this year to start, I just haven't been able to put a full 18 hole round together.

Until this morning that is...

I barely got to the club for my 7:22am tee time and immediately stepped on the tee. I was playing with my good buddy Toast and fellow regulars Jon and Bernie.

I stripped my 4-iron tee shot off the par four opener right down the pipe and we were off. I two-putted for par on the first and was then able to sneak home a tough 18 footer for birdie on the mid-length par four second to get into red figures.

I drove into a fairway bunker on the third but hit a fantastic nine-iron recovery from about 140 yards to about five feet. The putt hit the edge of the hole and dove out, leaving me with a disappointing par.

Routine two-putt par on four and I got into trouble on the long par four fifth. I drove it right into some trees but had a chance to hit a big hook out. I was able to escape but I couldn't get enough spin on the ball, leaving me right of the green. I hit a terrible chip shot and couldn't make the 12 foot par putt, bringing me back to even.

I quickly got it back on the 555 yard par five sixth. I layed back to around 165 yards and played a six iron into the wind to about eight feet. I got the putt to fall for my second birdie of the day to get back to minus one.

Two putt par on seven and then a big drive on eight that gave me a shot to hit the green in two on the par five. The ball was sitting up in the rough from about 220 yards, with the downhill shot playing into a stiff breeze. I took out my two-iron and hit it long right into high fescue. Bernie encouraged me to hit a provisional and I snapped it into the trees left.

Ugh. Not looking good.

I had a good line on my original ball but neither Toast nor I could find it. Thankfully, Bernie found my provisional, which had spit out of the trees and was sitting directly in front of the creek about 40 yards short of the green. I was able to keep the ball under the trees on my pitch shot and it rolled to about four feet. I made that for the improbable bogey to save myself from a big number. Back to even par.

I hit my best drive of the day on the long par four ninth but hit a horrible approach just short of the greenside bunker. I hit a decent chip and made a six footer for par and a 36 on the front.

I felt pretty good and even told Bernie "I feel an under par round coming" after killing a drive on the reachable par five tenth. I left myself only 197 yards into the hole and smoked a 5-iron on the front of the green. I just missed it and my birdie was conceded to once again get into red figures.

I parred eleven and we reached the par three 12th, which was playing from the ladies tee due to some maintenance work going on over at the regular men's tee. That meant only a 105 yard shot instead of 185, a nice bonus.

Toast hilariously said "Knock it in Bosela" as I lined up the shot and my gap wedge ended up loudly hitting the flag, with the ball coming to rest only four feet away. The guys on the next tee started clapping, I did a little bow and headed down the hill.

All of that and I miss the bloody putt! Damn it! That's two short birdie putts missed.

I boomed another great drive on the difficult 13th to about 110 yards and my indifferent wedge went about 20 feet past the flag. I almost made that but settled for par once again.

That's when the magic started for me. I hit a seven-iron on the 167 yard par three to about 12 feet and as I looked over the putt said "I like my chances here".

Right into the middle of the cup it went.

I felt a bit cocky saying it but it's rare when the cup looks big and it looked HUGE to me on that putt. I'm at two under now.

The 520 yard par five 15th saw me hit a poor drive, lay back to 160 yards and my six-iron into the breeze landed just on the front edge and bounced to within five feet. It did a little circle around the hole but my putt ended up dropping for my fifth birdie of the day.

I decided to play smart on the downhill par five 16th and hit a two-iron rescue off the tee down the middle. I layed up to 86 yards and was pretty much in-between clubs. Since I was a bit pumped up from the consecutive birds, I hit my 60 degree lob wedge and came out of it, leaving it in the fringe about 18 feet away.

Unbelievably, I made the hugely swinging right-to-lefter for another birdie to reach FOUR UNDER for only the second time in my life. Man, it was just my day...

I ended with a bit of a whimper though. My four-iron from 202 yards on the par three 17th was short right and my chip came to a rest about seven feet short. I missed it for my third bogey of the day. The difficult 18th was next and I hit a "good miss" on my drive, a bit of a heel shot but it was straight down the middle. I had an eight iron in and played it to about 25 feet. I really thought I could make it but it came up just short, giving me a par and a three under 69 for the day!

The second-best round of my life and my second venture into the sixties! I only hit 12 greens officially but it definitely felt like more, as my iron play was pretty spot on most of the day. 27 putts was solid on the aerated greens and I made more than my share, that's for sure. We had 11 guys out today so that meant a pretty darn good day in skins too ;)

A lot of the credit has to go to the demo irons I'm playing. Well, they won't be demos for long, as I was fitted for a new set of Taylor Made R7 TP's earlier in the week. I can't tell you how much I love those irons and should have my new set sometime next week. Hopefully they let me take the demos out again tomorrow!

Sometimes I REALLY love this game!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Buffalo Sabres Locker Room

In honour of the Sabres big 3-2 game four victory tonight, I thought I'd post this little gem of a video.

Harry, you'll be in tears after this!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Niagara Men's Tour: Peninsula Lakes

The second round of the first tournament on the 2007 Niagara Men's Tour took place yesterday afternoon at Peninsula Lakes Golf Club in Fenwick, Ontario.

As indicated in my last post, the first event is a two-round tournament that doubles as a qualifier for 44 other players looking to pick up one of the 24 spots available and join the 30 exempt players for the 2007 season.

Thankfully, I'm one of the lucky exempt players after finishing in the top-30 on the 2006 tour so I could just go out and try to put a good round together and hopefully, finish in the top-five.

Things started great, took a serious bad turn then the ship was righted.

Sounds like every one of my rounds...

We were playing the original 18 (Hillside and Quarry nines) at Peninsula Lakes, which is now a 27-hole facility. The first hole is a short par four and I went four-iron, wedge to about three feet and made that for a birdie to start.

The 227-yard par three second saw me hit a four iron just short of the green, hit a poor chip to about 10 feet but I made that to stay at one under.

The wheels came off on the straightforward par five third. With the wind blowing right to left, I picked a bad time to hit a high hook and it bounced hard left off a bunker and went about five yards out of bounds. I reloaded and nailed it down the middle.

With no chance to reach the green, I pulled a five iron from the bag and pull-hooked it a foot out of bounds AGAIN! I don't know how I kept my composure...

Reload again and hit it to about 130 yards. Hit on from there, two putts and I'm on the card with a NINE. Ugh.

The signature fourth at the Hillside is a big dogleg right par four over water. Hit a great drive right to the 150-marker but my uphill seven iron came up just short. I couldn't get up and down and was now four over through four.

I settled down from there. Two putt par on the par three fifth; up and down for par on the par four sixth. I almost hit the par five seventh in two but missed a ten foot birdie putt for my third consecutive par. Routine two putt par on the par three eighth and then I knocked home about a 12-footer for birdie on nine to somehow finish the front in 39 shots despite the quadruple bogey nine.

I was pretty pumped about that!

On to the quarry nine and the first hole is a very difficult 430 yard par four with water all the way down the left side. Think #18 at Sawgrass, but not quite as intimidating. I bailed out right and had 205 yards with a horrible lie in the rough. I hit it left of the green, hit a horrible pitch to 18 feet and promptly made it for par. Ha!

Got up and down on the par three second for another par and made two more up and downs for par on three and four.

The putter started to fail me a bit from there but I had been making everything to that point so maybe it was just karma or something. I three putted the fifth and sixth holes for bogey then almost hit the long par five seventh in two. Hit a really nice chip to about six feet but hit an aeration mark on my birdie effort and it slipped wide left.

I three putted for the third time in four holes on the par five eighth and barely missed my birdie on the par three ninth to come in with 38 on the back side and a 77 overall.

Scores were much lower at Pen Lakes than they were at Lookout the week previous but I still managed to move up one slot to sixth place overall for the two-day event with my 157 aggregate score (80-77), a nice start to the year for me. My best finish last year was eighth I believe in the last event of the season.

I barely missed 'the money', as the tour provides vouchers for the top five finishers for each event - last year it was the top six so I was getting on the tour committee for that, jokingly of course!

On the ugly side, while there were some fine finishes by some of the qualifiers, it turns out that a two-day total of 176 was good enough to qualify for the tour. That's 88-88 folks...

It seems that the tour is watered down somewhat this year and it's a colossal disappointment. I wish guys like Gary and Toast would try to qualify, as they, along with many others, are good enough to contend on this tour but they have their reasons for not playing (don't like afternoon golf is Gary's reason). I would guess that there are only about 20 guys that truly have a chance at winning any particular week, and that is likely being generous.

I include myself in that mix, so it may be exceedingly generous! ;)

That means a lot of 'field-filler', which is too bad. The tour and the hard-working committee deserve more.

Regardless, it won't ruin my enjoyment. I love the competition and had a blast yesterday, playing with Jim, the tour champion last year. He shot an easy 71 yesterday and it's truly a pleasure playing with guys of his calibar. It's pretty easy to keep your mind in it when you have someone playing well like that, especially if you are as competitive as I am.

The next event is in two weeks and will be held at the highly-regarded Niagara Parks Whirlpool Golf Course. It's a great old Stanley Thompson design and I think scores will be pretty low out there. I look forward to trying to improve on my sixth place finish!

Unfortunately, Harry won't be around for the rest of the year on tour. He shot a disappointing 87 yesterday, with two 8's and two 7's on his card. That's too tough to overcome. With a 95 in the first round, his 182 aggregate came up six shots short of qualifying outright and four shots short of being an alternate.

I know he's frustrated: Harry hits the ball as long as anyone at St. Catharines, is a good ball striker and has some decent touch around the greens too. We just have to work on his mental game, specifically course management and he has to get more accurate with his scoring irons. He has a willingness to improve and practice and knows his weaknesses, so I strongly believe he will start to get better in short order.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Good Start to the Men's Tour

The Niagara Men's Tour's first tournament is a two-round event and the first round took place on Saturday afternoon at Lookout Point GC in Fonthill, Ontario.

As indicated in my previous post, the event doubles as a qualifier for 40+ individuals who are looking to join the 30 players, myself included, who are exempt due to finishing in the top 30 last year.

It was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon but temperatures were around 50 degrees and the strong, northerly winds played havoc on everyone, which meant extremely high scores.

I had to do some scrambling early in the round. My drive off the beautiful opening hole drifted into some trees right of the fairway. I smartly pitched out to about 70 yards and my wedge into the green ended up six feet away. I was able to coax that home for par.

No different on number two, a shortish par three. I hit a knockdown eight-iron about 15 yards over the green but I hit a fantastic chip shot to about three feet. Made it for another par.

I just couldn't keep it up though. I sliced my drive on the par five third into the adjacent fairway and my attempted recovery shot didn't clear the trees up near the green, leaving me with a tough wedge over the pines. I got the ball up but didn't put enough steam on it, leaving me just right of the very narrow green. I opened up the face of my wedge but duffed the chip and ended up making an ugly double bogey seven.

I hit my first two good shots on the longish par four fourth but three-whacked for bogey. On the par three fifth, I once again misjudged the wind and airmailed my tee ball about 20 yards over the green. I hit another decent lob wedge but three putted AGAIN for double to go +5 through five holes.

I somehow kept my composure...

I creamed my drive on the par four sixth and had a little 9 iron into the biarritz green, with the pin cut on the top shelf. I hit it to within about 12 feet and knocked the sucker in to move back to +4.

The cool par five seventh features a green that looks like it's completely tilted due to a heavily sloped fairway. I left myself a 30-yard pitch for my third shot and hit it to about four feet. I made that for my second consecutive birdie and I was now only three over.

I made an excellent two-putt par on the uphill par three eighth, which was playing fiercely downwind with the pin about three steps on the front and came to the par five ninth. There, I boomed a drive to the 200 marker and hit a five iron approach onto the back of the green. With only about 20 feet for eagle, I had visions of somehow going out in 37 shots despite being five over after five. Turns out I was thinking too far ahead...I rammed the eagle effort five feet past and missed the comebacker to make a very disappointing par. Bah!

I made a routine par on the tough downhill par four tenth but got tricked by the wind once again on the par three 11th. 197 yards into the wind, I pulled out a four iron and nailed it literally twenty yards long. I'm currently playing with some TaylorMade R7 TP irons (demos from the golf club) and I am having a hard time gauging distances with them thus far. I ended up making a pretty good bogey there but made a huge mental error on the par five 12th.

A great drive left me with about 245 yards to the flag, with rests up on a plateau above the fairway. Holding a rescue club in my hands, I decided that it was a stupid play with pretty much no chance to reach the green into the wind so I pulled a nine-iron and layed up. I've played the course about ten times but completely forgot that there was a creek that ran across the bottom of the fairway about 100 yards from the green.

Of course, my ball ended up in there and I choked my way to another double bogey.

I bogeyed the tough par four 13th and then settled down somewhat. I made a routine par on 14 and then holed a bunker shot FOR PAR on the 15th after getting into trouble off the tee. I barely missed birdies on both 16 and 17 and ended up bogeying 18 when I made the huge mistake of going long on the heavily sloped green.

That gave me a hard-fought 80 on the day.

Turns out that was good enough for a tie for seventh on the day! The scores, as indicated, were extremely high so I'm sitting pretty heading into round two, which takes place Sunday afternoon at Peninsula Lakes. I'll be playing with last year's Tour Champion so I'm pretty pumped about that too.

If you're interested, check out the results at the Niagara Men's Tour
official website.

My buddy Harry unfortunately stumbled badly, shooting 95 and he will be in tough to qualify, as he isn't exempt for this year. I think he'll need a score around 80 to have a shot and if he plays like he did on Sunday at the club, he'll be just fine. Just keep grinding Harris...every shot counts!

I'll have a preview up later this week regarding the event at Pen Lakes.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Niagara Men's Tour 2007

I'm back for my fourth year on the Niagara Men's Amateur Tour after finishing 31st in year one, 11th overall in year two then a disappointing 24th last year.

Once again there are six events but there have been a couple wrinkles added for this year.

First of all, this is the first time that the tour is having a qualifier for non-exempt players. Essentially, the tour has grown to the point that a qualifier is necessary so they decided that the top 30 players from the year previous, along with any former event winners, get exempt into the tour.

Anyone else has to shoot their way in, with the first event being the qualifier. Wrinkle number two is that the first event/qualifier is a two-round tournament, another first for the tour.

Round one takes place this afternoon at the highly esteemed Lookout Point in Fonthill, Ontario, a gorgeous Walter Travis design. Round two will be on Mother's Day Sunday at Peninsula Lakes, also in Fonthill but a Rene Muylaert design.

Finishing 24th on the tour last year makes me exempt for the year so I can just go out and try to play good golf today. Lookout is a strategic gem, not overly long but the green complexes are devilish and the course is wildly undulating, with deception everywhere.

The course has small greens so my strategy for the day will be to shoot at the middle all day and take what the course gives me, unless I have a wedge in my hands. You just can't short-side yourself out there.

I'll be back tonight or tomorrow with a recap.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Decent Effort but We Fall Short

Harry and I joined forces in an attempt to qualify for the Ontario Better Ball Championship that is being held at Oakdale Golf and Country Club later in May.

Our qualifying round was held at Bridgewater G&CC on Monday and we teed off at 8:24am with two chaps from the National Golf Club.

If you hate play-by-play, you'll likely hate this post but oh well...it's my blog so deal with it!

First of all, it's important to note that Bridgewater was so saturated with water that the GAO needed to go to lift, clean and place throughout the course. Putting the ball into our hands certainly made scoring conditions easier but a 30km/hr wind negated that somewhat.

We couldn't have gotten off to a better start. Harry nailed his drive right down the middle and his 4-iron second shot from 170 (that's right Toast, a 4-iron from Harry from 170) stopped three feet away from the pin. I struggled to a bogey on the hole but it didn't matter, as Harry slapped his putt in for a birdie three and we were off!

Harry came up short with his second shot at the par four second but made a nice four foot putt for par. My birdie effort from about 20 feet unfortunately came up short.

On the par five third, Harry came up short with a wedge approach, hit a chip well past the hole and missed the long par putt. I was able to make a nice two-putt par to keep us at one under.

We both seriously underclubbed (my fault for telling Harry to hit 9-iron) on the downwind par three fourth. Harris' chip came up short and he made bogey but I was able to stiff my pitch shot in to a foot to save par.

The par five fifth saw both Harry and I drill our drives down the middle. My approach from about 230 yards ended up just left of the green while Harry's 4-iron from 210 or so came up a bit short. We both chipped on and missed birdie putts, with mine missing from about 8 feet. Should have had this one.

The par three sixth saw me overclub this time into the wind, as my six-iron sailed 10 yards past the green. I duffed a chip and made bogey but Harry made a fantastic up and down to keep us at -1.

The par four seventh was 444 yards into the wind. Harry and I both drove pretty well but I was forced to hit a 2-iron rescue from about 205 yards due to that wind. I pured it to about 25 feet and made a tough two-putt par to Harry's bogey.

We finally got into trouble on the eighth despite being in good shape on our drives. I pulled my second shot into the greenside bunker and couldn't get up and down. Unfortunately, Harry's birdie putt went well past the hole and he missed coming back on a tough 8 footer to bring us back to even.

We both parred the ninth hole, a medium length par four to go out in 36 (E).

I started having some difficulty with my driver on the 10th hole, a shortish par four. I drove left into a grove of trees and took three shots to get to the green on my way to a bogey. Harry drove perfectly once again, came up short on his approach and couldn't get down in two for our second bogey of the day.

The par five 11th was another missed opportunity for the two of us. Harris hit a great wedge from the 17th fairway to about 12 feet while my wedge was about 15 feet away for bird. Both of us missed to leave us at +1.

We both had outside birdie chances at the par four 12th, with my putt from the fringe just rolling past the cup and Harry's barely coming up short.

Then the wheels fell off for a couple holes for me. The shortish par three 13th saw Harry come up short with his tee shot and me go long. Harris hit his chip long and made bogey while my chip nestled about three feet away. However, I couldn't make this knee-knocker and we were now +2. I felt like I was letting Harris down by this point.

It didn't get any better on the short par four 14th. We both hit great drives but the wind caught both of our balls on the approach. I hit a full pitching wedge from 102 yards but it ended up 45 feet short of the flag. Harry's approach spun back about 30 feet and ended up right beside my ball, leaving us both with difficult uphill birdie putts. I rammed my putt 8 feet past and couldn't make the comebacker. Thankfully, it was Harris to the rescue, as he calmly slammed home a six footer for par to keep us at +2.

I finally was able to do something on the dogleg right par four 15th. I hit my best drive of the day right down the pipe and hit an eight-iron to about six feet. Harris hit his approach way right and made bogey but I was able to coax in my putt for my first birdie of the day to give us some hope at +1.

It wasn't to be. Both Harry and I went long on the par three 16th and while we both hit good chips, neither of us could make our six foot par putts.

We both missed 25 foot birdie putts on the 17th and would likely need eagle on the 18th if we had any chance, even though I knew that even par wasn't likely to get in. Of course, I muffed my drive and nailed a tree to pretty much knock myself out of the hole right away. I did end up hitting a rescue from about 220 out to about 50 feet and two putted for par. Harry's drive was long (as usual) and he had a decent shot to get home in two. However, his approach sailed way right of the green and he could do no better than a par as well (although he sunk a beauty of a putt to do it) so we ended up at 74 (+2).

I was really happy for Harry, as he drove the ball beautifully all day and played great the whole round. I felt that I let us down with a couple missed short ones (13 and 16 really were makeable, along with the birdie attempt on 5) and generally didn't play as well as I expected. I ended up shooting a 78 on my own ball while Harris came in with an excellent 79. Well done Harris!!!

But 74 isn't too bad and I think we will try again next year. I had a lot of fun, regardless of our score.

Both Harry and I are back at it on Saturday, only this time as individuals in the opening event of the Niagara Men's Tour. The first event is a two-rounder, with the first round taking place at the esteemed Lookout Point G&CC in Fonthill, Ontario while the second round takes place a week later at Peninsula Lakes GC.

I'll have a preview up in the next day or so.