Monday, August 24, 2009

Omaha Metro Golf Championship--Day 1

This is a breakdown of my two rounds during the Omaha Metro Golf Championship. I will breakdown my successes and failures on the course for the two days, and in doing so, hope to learn more about myself and my golf game.
During the two weeks leading up to the tournament, I went to the driving range about a dozen times. At the range, I was able to hone in my ball striking with my irons and eliminate the snap-hook in my driver and fairway metals that had been plaguing me all summer. During this practice period, I carded my first sub-80 round of golf (at the Tregaron Golf Course), as well as two of my best rounds at Champions Run Golf Course, a 41 and a 42. These scores and the time at the practice range gave me confidence going into the tournament.
Through this time, I was also working on building up my mental confidence on the golf course. I have been applying pressure to myself on the golf course by betting on my score and playing a skins game against one of my weekly playing partners, who is a better golfer than I am. In doing so, I hoped to be able to be steadier and more consistent on important tee-shots, approach shots, chips, and putts. By having money on the line during my rounds, I was able to put myself into a competitive frame of mind, instead of just hacking my way around the course. I was more focused on each shot and developed the ability to not let bad shots or holes affect the rest of my round. In short, I felt like I had prepared myself for my first real test on the golf course in years.
The morning of August 15, 2009, I awoke much earlier than I usually do on a Saturday in anticipation of my afternoon round. Then I looked outside and discovered that Mother Nature had different plans for the day. It had rained quite heavily that night, and showed no signs of clearing. After watching the weather report, I knew that the sunny, cloud-free weather I had hoped for was not going to happen. I attempted to keep myself occupied that morning, and went out to the course at about 11:00, with a 12:50 tee-time ahead. Once at the course, I was informed that there had been a two hour delay for the morning rounds, and they were going to have a shot-gun start at 3:15. So I grabbed lunch, and set out to the driving range to loosen up. After hitting a pile of balls, I headed to the putting green to get a feel for the speed of the greens.
Finally, 3:00 rolled around and the morning golfers started to trickle in. At about 3:30, they sent us to our tee-boxes, and, as luck would have it, my tee-box was the furthest from the club house. I arrived at hole number 15 winded, but ready to compete. There I meet my playing partners, Doug and Dave. Doug was a 40-something wood floor installer and Dave was a 60-ish retiree.
I struck a 5-wood down the middle of the fairway of this par 4, leaving myself about 160 yards into a blind green. I missed the green with my approach, chipped on, and 3 putted for double bogey. (Unforced errors for the hole: 1 extra putt)
Hole number 16 was a lay-up par 5. I played a 7 iron off the tee, and pushed it left. I had a tree in the way of my layup, which caused me to punch out. I had about 230 into the green, over a lake, so I hit my hybrid short of the greenside bunker. I chipped on and two putted for a bogey 6.
Number 17 was a 210 yard par three. I pushed my tee shot right of the green, and it ended up underneath a pine tree. I opted to punch out, since an unplayable drop would still leave me no shot at the green. After punching out, I chipped onto the green and proceeded to 4 putt from 15 feet for a quadruple bogey. (Unforced errors: 2 extra putts. Unlucky break: 1 ball under a tree. Total = 3)
The finishing hole of number 18 was a dogleg right par 4. I struck a great drive that cut the corner of the dogleg, but missed the fairway. I struck a nice 9 iron, which landed on the green, for my first green-in-regulation of the day. I 2 putted for a nice par. I left that green happy that I did not allow the previous hole’s quad-bogey get me down. (Blow-up demon: 0, Eric: 1)
Hole number 1 was a straightforward par 4. I put my drive in the left hand rough. My approach came up short, so I chipped on, and 2 putted for a bogey.
On hole number 2, a 494 yard par 5, I hit a monster drive down the right hand side, which ended up in the rough. I left the approach short, chipped on, and 2 putted for a text book par.
I got my second straight par on the par-4 3rd by hitting the fairway with my 5 wood, getting a green-in-regulation with my 9-iron approach shot, and 2 putting.
The par-3 fourth hole played 161 yards. I made the smart play by missing short right, but goofed up by 3 putting after chipping on. (Error: 1 extra putt)
My best hole of the day came on the 373 yard dogleg left par 4 5th. I hit my 7-wood into the middle-right of the fairway, which left me with about 140 yards into an elevated green. I pured my 9-iron right at the pin. The ball landed about 8 feet in front of the pin and released toward the pin, just missing the cup, and stopped about 2 feet past the hole for a kick-in birdie. I would learn the next day that this birdie would earn me one of four skins for our flight, which earned me $50. (+1 stroke I was not expecting to get back)
Following that nice birdie, my next tee-shot would come to rest against a large tree. I punched out, into the fairway, missed the green with my approach, chipped on, and two putted for a double-bogey 6. (Unlucky break: 1 ball against a tree)
The last par-5 of the front side was the easiest at 453 yards. I unleashed a great drive down the left handed side of the fairway, which gave me about 200 yards into a bunker protected green. I laid up short of the bunker, left my chip well short of the pin, and took my second 3 putt, for an inexcusable bogey 6. (Unforced error: 1 extra putt)
I rebounded on the 8th, a 151 yard par 3 with a forced carry over a large lake, by missing the green with my tee shot, chipping to about 4 feet, and tapping in for a par.
I finished the front side with a bogey after hitting the fairway, by landing my approach in the greenside bunker, splashing out, and two putting, giving me a 6-over par 42 (which was exactly what I wanted/expected to score).
I entered my remaining 5 holes with high hopes, only to run out of steam and a shoe full of blisters.
The 10th hole is a dogleg left par 4. I landed my drive in the fairway, put my approach onto the green, and then took another 3 putts to get the ball in the hole. (Unforced errors: 1 extra putt).
I hit a poor 7-iron off the tee on the three shot par 5 11th. I then got timid with my second shot, which came up well short of my target, which caused me to lay up short of the pond that guarded the green. My fourth shot carried the green. I then chipped on, and two putted for a double-bogey 7. (Unforced errors: .5 tee shot + .5 fourth shot = 1)
I used my building frustration on my tee shot on the 12th hole by spanking a drive down the middle of the fairway, which left me about 130 yards into the green. I left the approach short, chipped on, and two putted for a bogey.
The par four 13th was an extreme dogleg right, with some very large trees and a creek which guarded against big hitters attacking the green from the tee-box. The smart play is to hit a 200-220 yard club into the middle of the fairway, leaving a mid-iron into the green. I pushed my hybrid to the right, cutting the corner a bit tight, and, according to the spotter stationed there, hit a tree, which caused my ball to careen into the creek. I took a penalty drop and attempted to punch out through the trees, but caught it fat and my ball stopped short of the fairway. I then advanced my ball up the fairway. My approach carried the green long, which lead to my chipping on and two putting for my second quadruple bogey of the back nine and my first snowman of the day. (1 tree between my ball and fairway + 1 penalty stroke + 1 unforced error poor punch out = 3)
By the time I reached the 14th tee-box and my last hole of the day, the wheels had come flying off the proverbial cart, and I was mentally and physically exhausted. I left my 9-iron tee shot well short of the green, but I made a nice chip and two putted for a bogey 4.
I carded a 52 for the back nine, which gave me a total of 94 strokes. I entered the day with the goal of shooting an 85, so I was 9 strokes past that mark. And after tallying up the extra putts and unlucky breaks from the round, I could have potentially shot an 82. But, alas, it was not to be. I exited day one of the two day tournament well away from the lead, but feeling fairly proud of myself for not allowing the early 4 putt to completely derail my round. I had one birdie and four pars about which I could be proud. And I had played the front nine exactly as planned. I went to bed that night, knowing I could and would improve my score, as long as I didn’t have to go to the hospital the next morning and amputate my blister-laden feet.

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