Thursday, July 23, 2009

Niagara Men's Tour - Event Four (Twenty Valley)

My ball striking has really started to come around lately and after hitting 14 greens in a round a week previous, I went into this past weekend with a good amount of confidence as I prepared for the fourth event on the Nevada Bob's Men's Tour.

I brought out a couple buddies from my ball hockey team as guests on Saturday to St. Catharines and we had a good time. My game wasn't quite as sharp as the week previous but I still got around in only 77 shots, definitely above average by any measure. I had a number of key lipouts from in tight and hit 11 greens so I could have been even better.

Still, a solid round of golf and one that kept the spirits high heading into Sunday's round at Twenty Valley for the fourth leg of the Nevada Bob's Men's Tour.

I finished third in the last event on the Tour for my best finish of the year but it was at my home club so I was determined to put in a good performance 'on the road'. Problem is that I detest Twenty Valley - well, I should say that I never play well out there and it doesn't really set up for my game. I'm not really straight off the tee and there are hazards on every hole out there. There is some internal out of bounds at Twenty Valley too, something I absolutely hate, due to a road that runs through the property. Mickey Mouse...

I wanted to hit a few balls before the round to see where my game stood before deciding whether to play a bit more conservatively than normal. When I saw that you had to pay for balls, I decided it wasn't worth it and went to the first tee cold.

The first hole is a stupid, short par five measuring less than 470 yards. The problem is that there is a creek that bisects the fairway about 245 yards out so you have to decide whether to lay up short or to fly the thing. I decided on a 4-iron and hit it just left of the fairway, about 240 yards from the green. I took out a hybrid club but put it back in the bag when I saw we'd have about a five minute wait for the green to clear.

It was a good decision.

I'd layup with a solid five-iron to about 30 yards then pitched my third to three feet. Dead center with the putt and I was off with a birdie four.

On the 370 yard second, I hit four-iron again off the tee right down the pipe, followed with a 9-iron from about 150 yards into 12 feet and MADE THAT PUTT TOO!

Two holes. Two under par!

I was really loose on the scariest hole on the course, the long 430 yard par four third. Out of bounds hugs the right side of the fairway and that fairway slopes severely toward the huge pine and maple trees left, leaving practically no shot into the green. I decided to just play down the left side of the fairway and striped a great tee shot that got the big bounce to the left, unfortunately, and ended up in the rough.

I could gamble from 200 yards with a five-iron and try to hit over all the trees but I decided to take my medicine on the tough hole and just hit a 9-iron back into the fairway, leaving an easy 45 yard pitch shot. However, I'd come up well short on my pitch and my first putt then watch my three foot bogey putt horseshoe right back to me.

A double bogey wiped out my great start.

I brushed it off and nailed a perfect tee shot on the short par four fourth up the right side, leaving another 40 yard wedge shot. I hit an indifferent shot to about 18 feet but MADE THE PUTT AGAIN. Three birdies in four holes and back to one under!

I'd par the tough dogleg right fifth but lose my tee ball on the downhill par four sixth in the fescue right of the fairway. Couldn't believe we lost that one but thankfully, it was marked as a hazard and I hit a wedge on from there and two-putted for only a bogey.

I wouldn't get up and down from just off the green on the par three seventh and make another bogey, miss a seven foot birdie putt on the very difficult eighth hole and make a solid two putt par on the par three ninth to go out in 36 shots (+1).

Very solid!

I'd catch a break on both of the next two holes. I'd hit a huge tree on my drive on the tenth hole and took a huge sigh of relief when I got up to the top of the hill and saw that the ball was comfortably in the middle of the fairway. Good bounce! I'd par that then made a poor decision on the short par four 11th, hitting driver instead of a four-iron.

I hit the drive well right into fescue and after a few minutes, one of my playing partners found my ball. It was almost buried in the knee-high rough, about 100 yards away and I didn't have a direct shot at the green. I aimed about ten yards right of the green and took the biggest swing I could muster and somehow, someway, the ball hooked left and ended up about 15 feet away from the pin on the front fringe. What a result! I'd barely miss that and was still in great shape at +1 for the round.

Karma would catch up to me though. Nailed a perfect drive on the tough 12th down the right side but my wedge approach was slightly strong, rolling into the back fringe. It's a DIABOLICAL green and it would throttle me, as I FOUR PUTTED from there for a crushing double.

I'd follow that up by hooking my four-iron tee shot on the extremely tough par three 13th into a large tree left of the green. I'd proceed to pitch my next shot RIGHT INTO THE TREE AGAIN, almost seeing the ball roll back into the water. I'd end up with a double there as well.

I'd par the next two, bogey the long par three 16th then hit my tee ball on the par four 17th way right into the holding pond and three putt the green, making a round crushing triple.

With nothing to lose, I'd hit my best two shots of the day on the tough par five 18th, just coming up short with my 4-iron second shot and I'd chip to three feet. Of course, I'd miss the easy birdie putt and tap in for par and a very disappointing round of 81 (+9). I hit maybe four poor shots all day and it costed me nine shots.

I end up in a tie for 29th for the event and fall to 24th overall through four events this year. Not good.

Harry had a great round of 79, especially good since he spent the previous three weeks in Greece and just got off a plane about 14 hours before the round started. Good stuff.

Cal had a rough one, making a nine on the par four third hole on his way to an 83.

I wasn't overly upset though...I think I played pretty well for the most part and just have to find a way to keep those doubles and triples off my card.

The next day was shaping up to be a good one, as I was scheduled to play the very highly respected Devil's Paintbrush in Caledon. There would be a bit of a snag though, something that I'll discuss in my next post.

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