Monday, June 29, 2009

I'm Not Afraid to Admit It

I like Glen Abbey Golf Club. I like it a lot.

Now, this is the 19th rated golf course in Canada according to ScoreGolf Magazine so it is well respected. However, it tends to get criticized often due to the fact it has hosted so many Canadian Opens and the pros kind of get sick of playing the same place all the time.

I think if it was part of a normal rotation (like it will be in the future), the pros would think more highly of the place.

I played out there this past Thursday in the annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton charity tournament, an event I've been privileged enough to attend for four of the last five years.

Now, I'll admit the small putting surfaces aren't everyone's favourite but they certainly test your iron game. Jack Nicklaus, the course designer, utilizes pretty wide fairways so it's definitely playable off the tee but it takes exacting approaches to score well at the Abbey.

We played a Texas Scramble (pick the best drive then everyone in your group plays their own ball the rest of the way), which gave me the opportunity to swing without worrying about scoring results, something I desperately needed.

And it worked out well for me - I drove the ball as well as I have all year and constantly left myself with 9-irons and wedges for my approach shots, definitely a recipe for success. My team ended up using 16 of my 18 tee shots (no limit per player this year) and 17 of my 18 scores, as I shot an even par round of 73 on my own ball in the shamble format.

We weren't even remotely close to winning the event, finishing 6 shots back of the eventual winners but we had a great day on an excellent course. I played with my father and a couple of business partners. I'm already looking forward to next year's event!

I used that confidence booster to positive effect on Saturday, shooting a very solid 74 (+2) from the tips at St. Catharines, making four birdies in the process. Everything was on form - I drove it well, hit enough greens and putted really well (26 on the day). Heck, I even won a couple of bucks, although I only won a single skin even with four birds while Harry won three skins with a birdie and two pars. Unreal!

Golf is a cruel game and I found that out the hardway on Sunday, as it would take me eleven holes to finally hit a green in regulation.

That's right...eleven holes!

I'd go birdie-less on Sunday and double our last hole, the par four ninth for an 82 (+10), continuing my amazingly inconsistent year on the links. My driver was mediocre, my iron play deplorable and my putting was sorry, as I missed a couple of two footers in succession on the front nine and couldn't recover.

Thankfully, my mood brightened later that afternoon, as I attended Harris' wedding at Legends on the Niagara.

It was a lovely ceremony and the bride and groom both looked great. They got really lucky with the weather too, as the sun came out just in time for their pictures and once they were over, the skies opened back up and it rained for the rest of the night.

Really fun night and I'm thrilled for Harris and his bride Sarah - the wife and I set the two lovebirds up and wish them all the best in their lives together.

Harris: you owe me a round at Magna or something. And a hundred bucks.

"DJ hit that beat one time!"

Or something like that. I'm not very hip. ;)

Lots of golf coming up. I have taken the day off tomorrow and will once again try to play St. Thomas Golf and Country Club for the first time. If you remember, we were
thwarted in our efforts to play the top 100 course two years ago due to thunder, lightning and rain.

Just our luck that the forecast for tomorrow is showing a 90% chance of rain and thunderstorms. Wonderful. Oh yeah, St. Thomas is about two and a half hours away by car. Keep your fingers crossed for us, as I'll be heading west with Cal, Ryan and Dr. Greg at the crack of dawn.

We have Canada Day on Wednesday, a national holiday and I'll be playing that morning as well. Plus Saturday and Sunday golf at the club, with my first round Langley Cup match taking place on the Sunday.

Hopefully I will have a few more rounds in the 70s to talk about next week!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Searching for Consistency

We're almost in July and I'm still looking for the swing that got me down to a scratch last year.

Saturday was a cool day for yours truly - I made the almost two hour drive in pouring rain to Otterville to play in a
Golf Club Atlas outing with architects Ian Andrew and Dick Kirkpatrick, along with journalists Robert Thompson, Guy Nicholson and Jeff Brooke and engineer Dave Kemp.

The venue was Kirkpatrick's own design, Otter Creek, which opened last summer.

We got very lucky with the weather, as it cleared up just before our tee time and the sun would even break through by hole number two.

I had a great time talking architecture with these experts. I played the front nine with Robert and Dave and we'd switch things up a bit on the back, giving me the chance to play with Ian and Dick. It couldn't have worked out better!

I loved hearing the story of how the 14th hole came to be at Otter Creek from Dick then listened as he and Ian discussed the green site at 15 and the deception built into that surface, as putts broke opposite to what your eyes would initially tell you.

The fun moment for me came on the 378 yard par four 16th, a hole that plays downhill almost all the way from the tee, with a flat section around 150 yards before heading downhill again to the green. I wanted to play a 4-iron to the flat area but Dick encouraged me to hit Driver.

"You can get it right down the hill!", he exclaimed.

So I listened to the expert and nailed it perfectly down the hill, leaving only a 35 yard pitch.

You should have seen the smile on his face when I made bogey from there. Haha! The little hole got me!

At the end of the round, we had a lengthy discussion about the controverial 9th and 18th holes and how they came to be. Dick had some environmental issues to deal with on the 18th and the owner also vetoed a couple of design choices, much to Dick's chagrin.

Needless to say, it was a very interesting day and one that was topped off by going to Ian's house for barbeque and beers on his back patio.

I hope to get out with all those great people again sometime next year. Just a great day!

The only things that weren't great this weekend were my scores: 82 at Otter Creek and 81 at St. Catharines on Sunday. I only hit four greens in regulation on Sunday, as my iron play continues to suffer tremendously. I think I'm having posture-related issues right now, with too many moving parts. I've got to quiet things down with the swing.

Tomorrow, I get the rare chance to play some weekday golf, as my father and I head to Glen Abbey for the annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton charity tournament. We've been lucky enough to participate in this event for the last four years after winning it in '07 and it's always cool teeing it up at the Abbey, which will be hosting the Canadian Open once again in July.

It's very low-key, with the shamble format keeping the pace quick on a tough golf course. It will give me the chance to let loose with the swing a bit without any pressure to score and I've used this tournament in the past as a way of working on my game.

Should be a fun day for a great cause!

And of course, the big news is Harry's pending nuptuals, which are taking place on Sunday afternoon at Legends on the Niagara to his lovely fiance Sarah. Harris is even playing golf on Sunday morning! Well, we'll see about that ;)

The wifey and I are very much looking forward to the ceremony. Should be a great weekend and I hope the weather is good for their big day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hammock Beach Resort - The Ocean Course

Hammock Beach Resort - Ocean Course
Palm Coast, Florida, USA

7201 YARDS (PAR 72)
COURSE ARCHITECT: Jack Nicklaus (2000)
LAST PLAYED: April 26, 2008.
LOW SCORE: 77 (+5)

- Golf Magazine Top 100 Courses You Can Play 2014: #72

"As it relates to the East Coast in the United States, you are not going to get any better than you have right here."
- Jack Nicklaus

There is some crossover between this post and a trip report I originally did in May of 2008. This post is intended to be a profile of the Top 100-rated Ocean Course and the Ginn Hammock Beach Resort as opposed to a straight trip report and I've included many new photos here.

In late April 2008, Harry and I flew into Daytona Beach, Florida, rented a white Chrysler 300 and made the short 25 minute drive upstate to Palm Coast to the Ginn Hammock Beach Resort. We would be staying four nights at the facility on an unlimited golf package, with access to Tom Watson's Conservatory course and the more heralded Ocean Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus.

We signed in and grabbed our keys for our condo at the Yacht Harbor Village, which was about a five minute drive from the main area and sits right on a marina.

Now, we saw pictures of what the place was supposed to look like before we arrived but I've found in the past that the rooms never live up to the hype. Well, this time the accommodations EXCEEDED our expectations.

This place had everything. Beautiful dining room, ceramic tiled flooring, granite countertops in the kitchen, full laundry room behind the kitchen and la piece de resistance was the living room area complete with mounted 42" Panasonic Plasma television...with Dish Network satellite too.

Oh yeah, the view from the balcony wasn't too shabby either...

There was one sticky point and that was the rooms. We had a two bedroom condo, with both having ensuite bathrooms and rooms equiped with 32" Plasmas. Very nice.

One room was modestly-sized, with a queen size bed and a small bathroom with a tub/shower combo.

The other room was just a bit more grand...

This sucker had a king sized bed, couch, chair and table, TWO walk-in closets and a mammoth bathroom with both a jacuzzi tub and a separate standup shower.

After some intense back and forth, we mutually agreed to play a match to determine who got the bigger room so we got dressed and headed over to the Ocean Course for our late afternoon tee time.

We would be playing straight up match play for the room. 18 holes of golf for the ultimate in grand comfort. Oh, it was on baby!

The one thing that's important to note is that we were playing on quite possibly the windiest day I've ever seen on a golf course, with gusts hitting 50mph. It was a three-club wind and I literally felt like I was going to blow over on more than one occasion.

For this round, we settled on playing the Gold tee deck, with the course measuring 6723 yards with a course rating of 74.8 and a slope of 142.

The course was playing firm and fast and was a bit browned out due to the Champions Tour event that had just finished a couple weeks earlier at the club.

The first hole, shown below, is a pretty routine opener, a slight dogleg right to an elevated putting surface. I'd start my round ominously, hitting my first drive through the fairway left and into the long fescue, necessitating a penalty stroke and a drop. I'd double and lose the hole to Harry's bogey.

The 540 yard par five second is a pretty tough driving hole from a visual standpoint but there is more room than you think on the left in the landing area. The second shot is either a layup short of a waste area that leaves a 100 yard third or the bolder play toward the green, which would require a shot over a bunker that guards the middle of the green.

The mid-length par four third was the first hole to really get my attention. It's a solid dogleg right that demands a shot onto the right side of the fairway for the best angle into a well-protected green, with bunkers and grass depressions both looking to grab errant approaches. Visually stunning hole.

The fourth (shown below) is a pretty tough 192 yard par three from the tips but much more benign from the other decks. The green site is very shallow but wide and protected in front by a nasty bunker. There is some nice undulation on this green and some great pin positions.

The par four fifth, a cape hole, is one of my least favourite holes on the course. Nothing really original about it I guess and especially here at the Ocean Course, as you'll eventually see. It becomes a battle of how much you want to cut off the dogleg in order to shorten your approach but the thought of getting wet means a lot of balls leak to the right. You learn pretty quickly that the play off the tee here is just to the meat of the fairway.

Our match was going well, as Harry would double the second and bogey holes three through five while I parred all of them to give me a 3 up lead.

The par five sixth hole (seen below) sticks out like a sore thumb. This course is about options and there aren't really any here, especially on the approach, which calls for a shot to an island green. Maybe I'm just mad that I lost this hole to Harry with a double bogey. It's a wide open drive that allows the big hitters to give it a go in two but any wind will make hitting the green almost an impossibility. And it's always windy here! There are multiple tiers in the green so it's vital you find the right one to avoid three putt possibilities.

The seventh is a solid par four that demands a long, accurate drive in order to give the player a chance to hit the green in regulation. There are a couple of bunkers short left that coupled with some swales give the impression that the green is closer than it really is on the approach.

Simply put, the eighth hole is just a fantastic one-shotter. The ocean breezes really make things difficult here with club selection. You just can't miss right, as the green falls off severely, leaving a very uphill pitch or bunker shot. Unfortunately for Harry, as you can see in the second photo below, that's exactly what he did on his way to a double bogey.

What a golf hole the 468 yard par four ninth is, especially into the wind! The Atlantic sits to your right as you tee off, with the ideal ball flight going over the right fairway bunker. However, on most days, a shot hit toward the left fairway bunker will suffice but that will leave you with a 200 yard second shot up to the green which is perched on top of the hill and protected by two very deep bunkers on both sides. On a downwind day, I went driver/easy 5 iron and the next day, into the wind, went perfect driver/perfect 3 wood and was still short. This is a beautiful beast if I've ever seen one.

Harry's double, double, double finish on the front gave me a commanding 5 up lead through the first nine. Harry shot a 49 on the front versus my 42, a score I should have been very happy with, considering the gusty conditions.

The great holes continue with the short par five tenth that plays downhill off the tee. There is a lot of room here so you can just rip away off the tee. Really neat greensite here, perched back up on top of a hillside with a cavernous front bunker on the right and a severely undulating green with multiple great pin locations. This is a second shot hole and it's a doozy. All three days I had short iron SECOND shots into this green and didn't birdie it once.

After parring the 10th to win that hole, I'd build on that even further on the shortish par four 11th, making my first real putt of the day from about 20 feet for a birdie and a 7 up lead with 7 to go, putting Harris dormie. The 11th is another cape hole but it's a beauty, one that presents options off the tee. You can elect to hit driver left of a centerline fairway bunker and shorten the approach to a shallow greensite but that brings the water into play. Or you can play the safer shot to the right of the fairway bunker, which leaves a much longer shot into the green but will help you avoid the big number.

The 12th is a doozy of a par three that demands a right to left ball flight into a very long green that slopes hard around the bunker toward the back. The ideal shot can come in low and runup toward the pin. Don't go left!

The 13th is a pretty straight-forward but long two-shotter. The ideal tee ball is hit over the left fairway bunker to leave the open approach but most will just go for the fat of the fairway to the right. However, your second will then have to navigate the front right bunker. The area around the green is cut tight here and there are some neat options available for chip shots.

The last three shotter on the course is the 14th but it's no picnic. There is a centerline bunker here that allows you a couple of choices: go the safe route to the left but the hole turns into a guaranteed three shotter or go right and flirt with the water but give yourself the chance of reaching the green in two. The green has a huge swale in it and is very difficult to navigate if you go long with your approach. This is yet another cape-type hole with the water on the right instead of the left.

Harris had fought me off for a couple holes, as I went double bogey, bogey on 12 and 13 but we both sawed off with bogey sixes on the 14th to give me the match 5&4 and the luxurious master bedroom for the entire vacation!

We both started to tire by the time we reached 'The Bear Claw', the great four-hole finishing stretch at the Ocean Course. The uphill par four 15th is fantastic. 450 yards from the back with a centre-line bunker in the fairway, making you decide on the tee whether to go left, right or over it.

Well, Harris went into the bunker and from there, you have about 160 yards uphill and into the wind to a green perched WAY above the fairway.

Of course, he was having the kind of day where his ball came up just short then tumbled all the way back down the hill, leaving the following crazy pitch shot back up the ridge.

Just a tremendous golf hole and easily my favourite on the course. We'd both make solid bogeys here then headed to the big dogleg left, cape par four 16th just as the winds hit their peak. Being right on the ocean didn't help matters for us!

This hole plays a bit too much like the 5th for my liking, with both requiring the player to make a decision as far as cutting off the corner of the dogleg. However, the whipping winds off the ocean right behind you make club selection a bit more important here, giving you the chance to hit anything from driver to long iron. The green is deep but very narrow so a precise approach is absolutely necessary. Missing right is dead, as the green falls off into a huge chipping depression cut to fairway length.

The 17th is another beautiful hole that plays toward the ocean but somehow feels different from the par three 8th. This one seemed to play SHORTER than it's yardage all week, partially due to the fact the green slopes sharply from front to back on the second half of the surface, which leads to a huge dropoff and another shortly cut chipping area. Long is dead, short is dead, right is dead...hit the green or say goodbye to your par chances.

The 466 yard par four 18th is a very tough finisher, especially if its into the wind. The tee shot is downhill, with a draw off the right fairway bunker leaving an uphill approach that also demands a right to left ball flight. The uphill nature of the approach limits the ability to run the ball in but at least you have a shot at making an up and in from there. The green is about 40 yards deep and has multiple tiers.

I stumble home after taking the match, finishing double, bogey, double to shoot an ugly 45 on the back and an 87 overall. Harris shot a 96 and I think we were just glad to make it in alive. The wind was just unbelievable!

We were met at the 18th green by one of the staffers, who washed our clubs after the round for us. By the way, great thing about this resort is that there is a no cash and no tipping policy in effect. Makes things VERY easy and you never have to bring your wallet around all over the place.

So, what did I think of the place you ask? Lets find out!

It's a Nicklaus course so you have to be able to execute good golf shots. Like most of the modern Nicklaus courses, his fade bias isn't as prevalent as earlier in his design career, a plus here. It's a resort so playability is important due to the various types of skill levels that will tackle the course. The fairways are suitably wide for the most part in order to help, especially in the potentially windy coastal conditions.

With a course rating of 77 and a slope of 147, you know you're in for a challenge the moment you tee it up! Mishit shots will be penalized here even with the generous width overall. A solid test of golf, especially when the wind is up, which is often out here right on the ocean. I'm a bit conflicted when it comes to discussing design variety because I see Jack really wanted to spice things up with chipping areas, centerline bunkering, fairway width and more. However, I'm a bit put off by all of the cape holes, although I think the 16th is especially well done. This is one of the only true oceanfront golf courses to be built in Florida in the past number of years. However, it never comes into play and I wonder if Jack could have better utilized that precious piece of property a bit better. Still, a memorable ride throughout with only one or two weak holes.

Bobby Ginn spared no expense when putting together this resort and the little finishing touches can be seen everywhere around the course. The course was in tremendous shape considering that they had a professional event just weeks earlier. The greens rolled very well and were a bit quicker here then at the Conservatory course. The browned out conditions made things very firm and fast, the way I'm sure Nicklaus wants the course to be played.

It's a pleasant place to play golf that is marred somewhat by the encroaching housing community. I've seen plenty worse, however, although if the economy was in better shape in '08, I'm sure there would have been plenty more houses along the fairways.

In summary, this golf course is much different from most Nicklaus courses I've played in that there are many different ways to play the hole from the tees, the fairways and near the greens. You can play it low, play it high, play a fade or a draw, bump in shots or flop them in.

It doesn't hurt that the course is gorgeous to look at and plays very firm and fast. Very pleasantly surprised by the course and the teeth it has in the wind. It's just plain fun to play!

A definite bonus is the wonderful accommodations and the fact you can play on an unlimited golf package. There truly is some bang for your buck here at the Ginn Hammock Beach Resort.

Add this to the fact the great European Village Resort is closeby on Palm Coast Boulevard, with a number of great places to eat in there. This place is very cool, built in the piazza style that is very reminiscent of Old Europe. And bars with $2.00 bottles of Stella!

You just can't beat it.

The Ginn Hammock Beach Resort and the Ocean Course is a recommended play from Now on the Tee and I expect to walk those fairways again in the future!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

2009 Gentleman's Invitational

For the second year in a row, I welcomed my wife's uncle to St. Catharines to play in our annual Member/Guest Tournament.

It was the 44th Annual Invitational this year and it's notable for the fact that it is one of the few remaining three day events in the country. The club goes all out for the tournament, with pretty extravagant meals, lots of booze and a perfectly maintained golf course.

The format is a two-man best ball with 80% handicap on day one, 90% on day two and the full monty on day three. I was embarrassed to carry a five handicap into the event while my partner had a 15.

On Thursday, the first day of the event, Henry was on fire, making birdie right out of the gates on our first hole (the par five 10th) and he kept it up all day, shooting an 81 on his own ball while I shot 78 with three birdies. We'd shoot a scintillating 61 (-11) on the day on our handicapped best ball and LED THE COMPETITION by two shots.

If any of you have played in member/guest events before, you know that it's a no-win proposition to either win the event or be leading after one of the'll be considered a sandbagger.

I could hear the chatter over by the scoreboard after our score was posted:

"61??? Bosela must have shot 68 on his own ball! Five handicap my ass!"

I got a lot of congratulations for the good round but I told everyone it was my partner who did all the heavy lifting. It was quite the surprising round, as Henry was a full 13 shots better than he was during our practice round a couple weeks earlier.

We chowed down on glorious steaks and lobster along with Dan Akroyd's wine for dinner on Thursday and got home before 10pm to rest up for the second round.

I figured Henry might get a bit tight on day two and I was right - he ended up shooting a 92, eleven shots worse than the day before but thankfully, I held up my end of the bargain.

I made four birdies on my way to firing a season-low 73 (+1) on my own ball on Friday, despite making a double bogey seven on the par five 16th hole. It was actually notable because it ended up being our best ball for that hole and counted toward our team score of 65 (-7), which put us in a tie for second place overall, three shots back of the leaders who went 63-60 for the first two days.

Friday's meal consisted of a pig roast, along with pizza and a few other appetizers. A bit more low-key than the first day to give players the option of going elsewhere for dinner.

We would be in the second last group of the day on Saturday for the final round. Unfortunately, neither Henry or I had our best games on the day and I would end up shooting a pathetic 81 while Henry got hot enough on the back nine to shoot an 85, with our team score of 68 (-4) falling well behind the leaders.

In fact, the winning team ended up shooting a 54 (-18) on the final day on the strength of the member's 73 (+1). Oh yeah, the member had a 19 handicap for the event. *cough* Pretty much off the charts as far as the likelihood of that happening for a 19 but I digress.

We ended up finishing in sixth place all alone with our 22 under par total, improving on our 12th place finish in 2008. Most importantly, we had a great time once again and I look forward to having Henry out as my guest for years to come.

The gala dinner on Saturday night was tremendous - the club had stations set up with four different types of international cuisine, with Canada, Britain, Italy and Asia all represented. Great, great food, good wine and great conversation.

Just a tremendous three days.

I actually got up early and played on Sunday morning with my regular partners, shooting a 78 (+6) from the tips. It was a fun morning, as I had a great match with Cal where I started quickly, going 2up after three holes. He'd make four birdies in a row from holes eight through eleven to take a three up lead on me but I'd chip away at that and make a three or four footer for par on the 18th hole to shoot a 37 (+1) on the back nine and saw off the match. Good stuff!

I'm definitely looking forward to next weekend, as I will be heading to the Woodstock area to play Otter Creek with the course architect Dick Kirkpatrick, writer Robert Thompson, Mike Weir's architect partner Ian Andrew and a few others on Saturday afternoon. I'll try to take some pictures of the course, which is supposed to be very solid.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Niagara Men's Tour - Event Three (St. Catharines GCC)

I got the very rare opportunity to play some Friday evening golf after work last week to help prepare for the Nevada Bob's Men's Tour event taking place at our home course two days later.

I joined regular partner in crime Cal for the quick nine hole round, while Harry was nowhere to be found. He said the next day that he played earlier that afternoon but we don't believe him whatsoever - Harris was looking for linens and we all know it.

Anyway, not much to talk about - neither of us played well and that was punctuated by a three-whack on the 18th hole (our 9th) for bogey for both of us, with my miss costing me dearly, as I'd have to spring for dinner.

Sigh...yet another loss as I hacked to a 41 for nine holes.

Needless to say, expectations were low on Saturday morning as I teed it up with Cal, Harry and Kyle, a Twenty Valley member and Tour player who wanted to check out the course before the tournament the next day.

We teed off the back and I made a great birdie on the tough 13th hole on my way to a first nine score of 39. Breaking 40 on nine holes is an accomplishment for me this year so I was suitably happy.

It got even better on our back nine, as I'd get hot for the first time all year, making a birdie on the 3rd hole then making back to back birdies on the 7th and 8th holes to finish with a season-high four birds and a back nine score of even par 36, notching a 75 (+3) overall. Best score of the year at St. Catharines for yours truly and I even hit the ball decently, hitting nine greens and seven fairways.

Even better, I made some money for one of the few times this year, winning a pair of skins and besting Cal by six shots in our regular $5.00 game.

Still, I had a lot of butterflies before the Men's Tour event on Sunday. I wish I could pinpoint the reason but I suspect that playing my home course raises my expectations to a higher level.

I was in the last group of the day, playing with two former event winners and one rookie, neither of whom I had ever played with before. Still, I hit two good shots on the opening hole but I was faced with a slick, 25 foot downhiller that I left about five feet short. I'd horseshoe that out on my par effort, making the disappointing bogey right out of the gates.

Making it worse was the fact that there were still two groups sitting on the second tee waiting to hit.

It was going to be a very, very long day.

Like Harry though, I used the extra time to settle my nerves and I just destroyed my drive when we finally got to the tee, giving me a little wedge second shot in. I'd make par there and also make a nice up and down on the par four third, which was playing much longer than usual due to the wind being completely opposite the tradewind for the course.

We had another lengthy delay on the par three fourth and I'd fail to get up and down from the back bunker, making a bogey to go +2 through four holes.

I'd par the fifth hole and one of the turning points in the day, confidence-wise, came on the par five sixth.

I hit my first poor drive of the day into the right fairway bunker then proceeded to duff the shot out. I was left with a 240 yard third shot to a back pin placement and I hit my hybrid a bit fat, into the front right greenside bunker.

It was a very difficult bunker shot, likely about 25 yards or so and I had to fly it over a second bunker to the back plateau. I hit the shot perfectly and it landed on the downslope of that second bunker, rolled onto the green and stopped about six inches from the cup. Whew! Tap in par and I'd follow with three more on the outgoing nine to shoot a solid 38 (+2).

The golf gods would smile on me again on the short par five 10th. I hit a horrific block right toward the houses on the right and I'd tee up a provisional just in case. We ended up finding my ball about two inches inside the boundary and I was able to pitch out and save my par.

I'd almost repeat the feat on the par four 11th, hitting a 4-iron about 40 yards right of the fairway. I almost had to hit over a house at the corner to get to the green but I was able to get to within 15 feet and I rolled that in for the crazy birdie to move to +1 on the day.

I'd make solid pars on both the 12th and 13th and I started getting nervous...really nervous. Why, I have no idea but it is what it is.

With a perfect pin position for me (back left), I hit another huge block with a 6-iron and was BURIED right against the back lip of the right greenside bunker.

Completely dead.

I tried to hit out sideways, up towards the back of the green and there was the very real possibility that I'd skull the sucker straight out of bounds into the neighbouring dog park. Somehow, I connected perfectly and SNAP HOOKED the ball out of the bunker, watched the ball get killed by the rough and roll gently onto the putting surface, stopping 20 feet away.


I'd miss that putt but was THRILLED with the bogey.

I'd come completely undone on the par five 15th after hitting a perfect drive. I just wanted to layup to the 150 marker with a 6-iron but snap hooked the sucker straight into the holding pond. Damnit! There goes the round!

I'd end up making a double bogey seven there, I'd par 16, bogey the tough par three 17th and barely miss a five or six footer for birdie on the last, finishing with a 77 (+5) on the day.

Much to my surprise, that score was good enough to tie me for third place on the day, my first top five of the year on the Tour. I finished three shots back of the winner...not too bad.

I move up to 19th in the Overall Standings, a huge jump from 38th spot where I was before the event started. In the process, I stay barely ahead of Cal, who finished tied for 7th in the event and is now in 23rd position and I jump ahead of Harry, who shot a disappointing 82 on the day and sits one slot back in 24th.

The next event on the calendar is in about six weeks at Twenty Valley GCC in Vineland, a course where I haven't scored well historically. I'll look to reverse that trend as I try to move toward the top ten overall.

Big week coming up, as our club is holding its three-day Member-Guest Tournament, one I'll be playing in for the second consecutive year. Looking forward to having some fun and continuing to work the rust out of my game.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Rock Bottom?

Harry just let me know through the comments that he's a 4.1 handicap.

Not really newsworthy until you find out that I'm currently a 4.2.

My world is turning upside down! Haha.

Congratulations to Harris on his achievement. It's good that he's done something early in the season, because he won't have the chance to improve on it with marriage coming.

I made a gentleman's bet with Harris and Cal that Harry wouldn't get in more than 45 rounds this year due to his pending nuptials, a claim that he dismissed quickly as ridiculous. Harry usually plays about 65-70 rounds per year so that's a big dropoff. He said there's no way anything will get in the way of his weekend golf.

Well, it's June and Harry's played all of EIGHT ROUNDS. Hahahaha. Too busy looking for linens ALREADY, are you Harris?!

Needless to say, I'm changing the outlook for Harris to 35 rounds for the year and even with me playing like complete garbage, Harry's handicap is bound to go up to 7 within a month or so. It's okay though...your linens will be crisp and clean and your gardens will be colourful and well edged.

The earth will be back on its axis shortly and all will be right in the world once again!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Wasted Weekend

Scorewise, that is...

Two rounds of golf. Didn't break 80 in either one...again.

I'm not going to go into detail about the rounds but I shot 80 on Saturday from the tips then was 82 on Sunday from the same tees in extremely cold and windy conditions, going four over par on my last three to do it.

My putting has been atrocious ever since playing on the shaggy carpets at Grand Niagara but really, I'm not doing anything well.

My handicap, which at one point last year got down to scratch, is up to 4.2 - yup, I'm now a five handicap officially. That pretty much says it all about the quality of my game this year. And to top it off, it's going to get worse, as I'm losing a 71 this weekend on my score chart so I could actually be pushing a six handicap by Monday next week!

I've been a real sourpuss lately on the course and I imagine I haven't been the most fun guy to play a round with during this extended slump. I'm really going to try to put more effort into shrugging the bad shots off and not beating myself up over my pathetic game. I know that no one wants to hear about it and really, who the hell cares? It's just a game, we all struggle at some point and this is my time.

I just have to deal with the tough times with a little more grace.

We have the third leg of the Niagara Men's Tour coming up on Sunday and it's taking place on our home turf at St. Catharines. Hopefully, one of our members takes home first place.