Sunday, December 09, 2007

2007 Golf Season - Year in Review

What a year 2007 was on the golf course for yours truly!

No, I didn't win anything of substance. Check that...

I didn't win a bloody thing!

However, I got to play a lot of golf this year as a newlywed and with the wedding planning from 2006 behind me, I actually was able to play decently again.

The most interesting development though was getting on two pretty exclusive top-100 courses in the world. First, I stayed three nights and played a round at The Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California in August while on a business trip. You can check out my three post document of my time at Riviera right here and the picture above is of me posing on the elevated first tee.

I also got to participate in a charity event later in the year at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, home of this year's US Open. You can check out my experience at Oakmont here, with a picture from the expansive ninth fairway below.


Let's take a look at my numbers for 2007. In brackets, I've included my numbers for 2006 & 2005 as a point of comparison:

TOTAL ROUNDS PLAYED: 65 (2006: 63; 2005: 62)
TOTAL TOURNAMENT ROUNDS: 19 (2006: 14; 2005: 20)
TOTAL NINE-HOLE ROUNDS: 2 (2006: 4; 2005: 7)

TOTAL ROUNDS (80 OR UNDER): 52 (2006: 44; 2005: 45)
TOTAL ROUNDS (75 OR UNDER): 13 (2006: 4; 2005: 11)
TOTAL ROUNDS UNDER PAR: 2 (2006: 0; 2005: 3)

DIFFERENT GOLF COURSES PLAYED: 19 (2006: 19; 2005: 21)
COURSES PLAYED FOR FIRST TIME: 7 (2006: 9)
- Cherry Hill Club, Ridgeway, Ontario, CAN
- FireRock GC, Komoka, Ontario, CAN
- Glencairn GC, Halton Hills, Ontario, CAN
- Monarch Bay Golf Links, Dana Point, California, USA
- Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania, USA
- The Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, California, USA
- Wooden Sticks, Uxbridge, Ontario, CAN

OVERALL SCORING AVERAGE: 77.74 (2006: 78.93; 2005: 78.50)
SCORING AVERAGE (ST. CATHARINES G&CC): 77.09 (2006: 77.91; 2005: 77.55)
SCORING AVERAGE (OTHER COURSES): 79.32 (2006: 80.38; 2005: 80.50)
TOURNAMENT SCORING AVERAGE: 77.89 (2006: 79.36; 2005: 78.00)

This was easily the best year of scoring I've ever experienced. I shot an early season round of 69, a late season round of 70 and two rounds of 72, with both of them being from the back tee deck. I didn't break my personal best of 68 and my two sub-par rounds fall below the three I had a couple years back but that's just picking nits.

However, I was much more consistent this year with my game and a lot of it has to do with the new irons I purchased in May. I was fitted with the new TaylorMade r7 TP's in the early spring and it allowed me to gain about 10 to 15 yards of extra distance while also improving my accuracy.

I had a decent bounce-back year on the Niagara Men's Tour, finishing 12th this year after barely making the exempt list in 2006 when I placed 24th. I had two top-ten finishes on tour this year: the season-opening two round event that took place at Lookout Point CC and Peninsula Lakes and I also finished in the top ten at the Port Colborne CC stop, where I shot a solid 74, my best round in competition this year.

I finally got past the first round in the Langley Cup, the St. Catharines G&CC Match Play championship for 0-7 handicappers. I would eventually lose in the semifinals to one of my regular playing partners Joe, who would then lose to my good buddy Toast in the finals, giving him his first big win in a club event.

Club Championships were a reasonable success for yours truly. I finished in 6th place all alone in the open championship flight, tying my best performance and I only finished 8 shots back of the eventual winner, my buddy and regular playing partner Bernie. I held up pretty well despite having a hard time making birdies in the competition, shooting rounds of 77, 77 and 76 during the three-day event.

The other big annual event on my calendar was pretty much a dud this year: the Niagara Cup competition. I won my first match, a two-man best ball competition at Peninsula Lakes but the last two matches were cancelled due to the other clubs in our sectional not being able to compete. We therefore got a bye into the finals and I lost that singles match even though I played decently, shooting a 75 to only garner 1/2 point out of the three available, ultimately finishing 1 down. St. Catharines would finish dead last out of the teams that made the finals.

There was some talk that the format would be scrapped in favour of smaller team sizes but it seems that won't be happening and we'll continue with the status quo or something close to what's currently in place.

We didn't get down to Bradford, Pennsylvania for the annual Pine Acres Invitational, which hurts but hopefully we can get signed up in 2008.

Let's look at some more stats:

LOW SCORE: 69 (2006: 74; 2005: 68)
LOW TOURNAMENT SCORE: 74 (2006: 76; 2005: 71)
LOW NINE-HOLE SCORE: 33 (2006: 34; 2005: 33)

DRIVING DISTANCE: 272.88 (2006: 264.49 yards)
DRIVING ACCURACY: 45.49% (2006: 44.94%)
GREENS IN REGULATION: 49.32% (2006: 44.54%)
PUTTS PER GIR: 1.94 (2006: 1.94)
BIRDIE CONVERSION: 21.32% (2006: 18.28%)
PUTTS PER ROUND: 31.11 (2006: 30.78)
SAND SAVES: 31.37% (2006: 33.33%)
SCRAMBLING: 39.12% (2006: 36.79%)
SKINS: +$337.50 (2006: +$209.50)
TOTAL EAGLES: 1 (2006: 1)
TOTAL BIRDIES: 123 - Single Round Best -> 6 (2006: 85)

Pretty much all my ball striking numbers were way up. 3% increase in driving distance, a 1.2% increase in driving accuracy and a whopping 10.7% increase in greens in regulation. My putting across the board was down but I made a TON more birdies this year and a slightly better chipping game meant more up and downs.

I still have a lot of work to do with the short game but I'm pretty satisfied with the changes I've made in my long game, as I lowered my hands at address and set my wrists a bit earlier in the swing, which helped with ball striking consistency.

What am I looking to do as an encore in 2008?

Well, I'll likely play in a similar amount of tournaments again next year. I'm exempt on the Niagara Men's Tour and I really want to get into the thick of it this year and challenge for an event win. The chairman of the tour called me the 'most improved player on the tour' at the season-ending awards presentation, a nice title for sure but I want to take my tournament game to the next level and start contending and maybe winning events.

The main club events will also be on my radar: I'd love to challenge my good buddy Toast for the Langley Cup this coming year and of course, I want to be in the thick of things at Club Championship time.

The jury is out on the Niagara Cup - I'll continue to support the club in this event but I'm going to have to encourage others to do the same, as some felt put-out by the turn of events this year, whether it was the constant rescheduling, the cancelled events or the fact there didn't seem to be a real plan in place for substitutes, some of whom paid a lot of money to attempt to qualify but were overlooked when subs were needed. I've been very lucky to have been chosen as a captain's pick for the last few years and I love the commaraderie that a team competition like this provides so I'll continue to help out in 2008 to ensure that our club continues to put a competitive team on the course.

As for 2008, I wonder what great courses I'll get to see next year after being truly blessed in '07...

I'd love to do a weekend down at Bethpage and will also look at getting onto another top-100 course if possible. I've got one in mind but I'm going to keep it close to the vest as I continue to investigate the possibilities.

There are some more reasonable possibilities too: Essex in Windsor is doable, as Harry has an in there. Perhaps St. George's (possible) or Ancaster (umm...wishful thinking probably!). Toast has an in at Oak Hill in Rochester through a relative but he'd rather just try to fool people into thinking they can get on rather than actually DO something about it!

Money is going to be tight in '08 for the wife and I so I doubt I'll get the chance to get away on any type of golf trip down south but you never know...maybe I'll cave and go somewhere with Harry and his buddies if they find something reasonable.

Golf season is only about three and a half months away! I can't wait!

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