After 6 tournaments on the Tour, I finally won my first tournament in the GTA Amateur Tour (Flight C). You can read about it here: http://www.gtaamateurtour.com/article.php?id=142
In the previous post, I spoke about course management and how it can really lower score, and mentally allows you to play a better game. Today, I want to expand on that and give you examples of what I did that ultimately led me to this win.
If you want to follow the scorecard, here it is: http://www.gtaamateurtour.com/golfstats/stats.php?playerId=1855&year=2010&gameId=47
I will just highlight some of the holes that mattered.
Hole 1 (PAR 4): I drove my first ball off the tee, and it went left into the bushes, so I had to play a provision (3 off the tee — this time, aiming right a little more) to a great spot to about 140Y to the pin. I took an 8-iron and actually fat the shot to about 80Y to the pin. SW it up to about 15 feet from the hole, two putt for a Triple Bogey.
Thoughts: I didn’t try to be aggressive for the first putt to save double, and just try to get it near the hole (focusing on weight). Settle for a triple, and try not to make any more mistakes, and make it back up on the other holes.
Hole 7 (PAR 3): My shots have a tendency to fade, and there is water all the way until the pin location. Sitting at 113Y, which is perfect for my PW with no wind. From the slope of the green, I know if I missed to the left a little, there is a slope that will bring the ball back down towards the flag, while on the right side it would be a very steep downhill putt to the hole. So I aimed between the hole and the left edge of the green. Took a smooth and comfortable swing at the ball and landed the ball on the hill and rolled about 1.5 ft from the pin, quick tap in for a birdie.
Thoughts: Don’t always aim at the pin, sometimes play the slopes of the green to your advantage and your shot. I know my ball, if I didn’t strike it properly will fade right, so aiming just a little left, allows me to have a higher margin of error.
Hole 9 (PAR 5 – 487Y dog leg left): We are elevated about 5-6 stories high, with the wind on our back. I drove the ball perfect, hit a perfect slope and actually rolled to the 148Y to the pin location (339Y drive? There is no way I can do that with my swing speed, if it wasn’t for the wind on my back, and the downhill slope, and lucky bounce.) My playing partners were so surprised as well how far it went. So at the 148Y, there was trees to my left guarding the pin, with red stakes on the left as well. If I was playing with some friends, and just fooling around, I definitely would have went for it, but I have to think about risk vs reward. I might get an eagle putt, or I could hit the tree and take a penalty (shooting 4 from the same location). Knowing my own flight path, I know about 6/10 times I could potentially land this, but because it is not 9/10 times, I decided to chip it to the 80Y marker which I can comfortably swing nicely with my SW sticking it about 6 feet from the pin. I missed the putt unfortunately, but I tapped in for Par, and was very satisfied with the decision.
Thoughts: If I made the attempt to go for eagle, landed it, maybe 2 putt for birdie, that would be a (-1) score. However, if I missed and got it into the woods, I would be dropping 4 to chip to the 80Y, hitting 5 on, and 2 putt which would have given me a (+2). So the risk vs rewards isn’t that great. However, from this experience I realized that to push my game to the next level, I would really have to learn/practice how to DRAW/FADE the ball with my irons.
Hole 18 (PAR 5 – 555Y): My drive off the tee wasn’t the best, it sliced a little to the right unfortunately. I had about 180Y to cross the river to at least give me a chance to approach the green in 3. I was sitting on a uphill lie (to naturally it’ll squirt a little left, but I needed it to go right). Because I don’t think I can comfortably hit a 3 wood (220Y) in this situation, I decided to take my 8 iron to knock it out to the fairway to get a comfortable shot to get it over the water. I put the next shot to the 80-110Y area for my next shot onto the green since there is a huge lake in front of the hole, I needed something comfortable that I can get some high trajectory and land softly. From there, I was shooting 4-on, sticking it about 8 ft from the pin, and then two putted, happy to get a bogey.
Thoughts: I could of risked getting it across the river, and then 3-on with like a 8-9 iron (125-140Y), but what if it did go into the river, I would of suffered a lot more. With a bad lie, and a carry distance of 180Y, it would be a shot that I would only make maybe 3/10 times. So I was hoping to stick it close with a PW/SW, and get up and down, but I am definitely satisfied with a bogey.
In the end, I think mentally, you can’t always “go for it”. But more importantly is knowing how it affects you mentally if you actually screwed up. And how you should recover from it. One of my playing partners, Andrew, he hit a 14 on a Par 5, extremely frustrated saying there goes his chances, but I remember saying to him, “You say that you might have lost your chances, but you will get other chances. Take this as a test for your mental game to recover. If you can come back with a solid finish even after doing 14 on a Par 5, you will overcome something that most people won’t even for a lifetime.” That is because, most people once they do bad on one hole, they want to take too much risk to “make up” for the mistakes they’ve done. Anyhow, Andrew PAR the next 2 holes, and bogey, par, the rest the hole to the 18th. He never let it bother him too much. Of course, he regrets the mistake and wish that he can do it all over again, but he overcame the mistake and just played a solid smart game after wards.
I remember he had a PAR 4 (this is after the frustrating 14 on the Par 5), crossing two rivers. He drove the ball, and had about 190Y to pin, but there was a creek at the red marker. He chipped the ball to the 100Y marker, got it on and 2 putt for Bogey.
Long story short, play within your limits, play smart, and find a club you are 9/10 comfortable with, and you will shoot lower scores. My next venture would be learning how to draw/fade the ball on demand, and finding out the distance and flight path of these. Hopefully that will excel my game to the next level. I do want to try to break 80 this season, but if it doesn’t happen.. that is fine. This is truly only my 2nd year of actually playing golf.
Let me know your thoughts, share your experiences.