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Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Amateur’

The Man Behind the Putter – Part Deux

This past Sunday I made 8 birdies in 27 holes.  I actually heard the words from a competitor as I struck a putt from 20 feet into the hole for a second straight birdie, “Okay, we’re just about sick of this performance…”  Corey Pavin, thank you for the “palms out” putter grip.  Also, Odyssey putters, thanks for the white hot mallet!  34″ of pure joy and perfection. Yes, I changed again ONE FINAL TIME!

This Wednesday I play in a Virginia State Amateur qualifier at Virginia Beach National Golf Club (formerly a TPC).  It was to take place last Wednesday, but a tropical depression precluded play.  I actually avoided getting wet because my tee time was so late, most were soaked after – for some 8 or more holes – and relieved beyond words that it was finally cancelled.  I played one practice round a couple of weeks ago and timing and schedule has precluded another.  I am hoping that putting as described above coupled with the Hogan chipping technique on the par 5s discussed in the previous post will win the day (thanks Tom McCarthy, Jim McLean, and Mr. Hogan).  My iron play has improved dramatically (thanks PING S56s), but my driving has been a bit streaky.  Driving the ball is a personal thing requiring confidence, connection, and care.  Patience and trust will be their own reward I think.  I am a nearly 52 year old man who will be competing with high school and college players as well as established amateurs in the area.

I am a long shot and underdog.  I love underdogs!  My morning tee time is the next to the last on number 10, which means, for the afternoon round (of 36 holes total) I will be in the next to last group playing into number 18.  I want to own this opportunity – I want people waiting for MY SCORE!

Oh yeah – how can I forget my inspiration?!  My wife encourages success for me at the golf course every step of the way.  The photo shows not only the red, white and blue club head covers she made for me, but also the putter head cover – my “Sock Monkey” putter head cover.  The other night sitting in the den watching television she suddenly declares – “I made something for you!”  Hmm…”what is it sweetheart?”  “A putter head cover Chris!”  I immediately loved the idea of it, my wife making something for me without coaxing – a surprise – and something as cool as a sock monkey for my putter!  How can I putt badly after that?!  Look at that sock monkey peaking out over the top of the bag…he really wants the putter to be great…

Tournament Experience

Golf is a Game of Opposites

I have stated this in the past, golf is a game of opposites and counterintuitive realities.  You want the golf ball to go up, hit down on it.  You want the golf ball to go where you aim, relax and let the swing happen (don’t try and control it).  It is difficult to remember this sometimes on the golf course and intuitively correct thoughts and actions (but, incorrect thoughts and actions) begin to take control during a round.  I found myself in that quandary last week during a Virginia Amateur qualifying tournament.  I did terribly.

Golf is Unforgiving

Princess Anne Country Club is one where apparently (to me anyway) the golf course was put in around and through the surrounding community.  Every fairway was lined with out of bounds (OB) markers and many of the tee boxes were set so that the tee shot was hit out over a road.  The fairways seemed generous enough, but the ever present thought of OB lurking on every hole somehow overcame my usual let it go attitude.  I shot a 90 on the first of two rounds last week and an 88 on the second – I am a 4 handicap.  I actually birdied 4 par 3’s in the first round.  I became victim of the issues I described in the beginning of this post.  The club gradually slid deeper and deeper into my palms without my knowing it because of my unconscious desire to control the shots.  With each errant shot came more desired control – I hit probably 6 or 8 shots that were 1 foot out of bounds.  In the end, I began hitting shots that I had no idea I could still hit (in a bad way).  Confidence went to hell.  Finally, during the last 9 of the 36 of the day my “give a crap” factor was pegged and I began letting go again.  I actually played much better and more consistently.  Interesting.

Golf can be a Forgiving Mistress

I played an emergency round late this past Wednesday afternoon at my home course.  I needed to because the next morning I had knee surgery and would be out for a couple of weeks at least.  Midway through the first 9 I remembered that I forgot to keep the club in my fingers and all became good with the world.  After a few birdies to make up for a couple of early bad holes, I rolled into the last hole needing a birdie for a 73 and I made it.

Yet Another Golf Lesson

What happened?  The pressure of a qualifier?  Playing on a strange golf course?  Maybe some of that…but, I had no illusions of qualifying, I simply entered to gain experience for the All-Marine Golf Trials this fall.  Nerves are not really an issue for me.  I get excited, but after doing the things I have done over the course of 28 years in the Marine Corps, golf doesn’t really make me nervous.  I guess I just let the moment get the best of me at Princess Anne and didn’t stay within myself.  Also, maybe I should take another read of Ben Hogan’s FIVE LESSONS.  Variables like the grip shouldn’t fall apart so easily…a golf lesson well learned, again.