More when I get to a computer.
OK, here we go:
I woke up at 6 for the 5 hour drive to Riverton, WY. Today was sponsor day. The pro plays his ball out and the 3 sponsors scramble. The combined score is the team score. One pro gets paid. I played pretty good after a bad start and shot 70. 67 took the dough, and the team missed by a couple, but we had a good time. Thanks go out to Bob, Chris, and Gary.
I played in the afternoon, which was a bad break. It was a perfect day when I started warming up, but on the 4th hole someone turned on the wind switch, and they put it on "HIGH." I grinded out a 73, which wasn't too bad. 71 was the low afternoon round, but there were some low morning scores.
Day 2 -- The SLUGFEST
After the round, we had the "Slugfest." 29 guys tee off on one in a sudden-death playoff for the money. You have to birdie number one. It is a very fun little event, and there is a lot of pressure. You are going to catch some heat if you hit a bad shot.
I ripped a drive on the first shot, hit a pretty good pitch to about 8 feet, and sunk the putt to make it through the first hole. 3 others made birdie, so we eliminated most of the field on 1.
I pulled my tee shot on the long par-3 second, so I needed to get it up-and-down to continue. I hit a very good shot for a tap-in to continue. We had one three putt, so 3 remained.
After a bad drive, I had to lay up on the par-5 3rd. I hit a good third shot to about 15 feet. One of the guys was chipping for birdie, while the other two-putted from the fringe for birdie. I had to make it to go on. Dead center, ho-hum. 2 left.
My competitor got a little greedy on the 4th playoff hole. I hit an iron down to about 140, while he tried to cut off a bit too much of the dogleg and ended up under the trees. A solid par later, and I tipped my cap to the crowd after the win. Good start to the week.
The late/early players really got stuck this week. Day 2 started with a heavy wind, which continued all day. I played really good, but I threw away some shots and ended up with a 72. The best score from my wave of players was -2 for two days (I was +1), but the other wave had some low numbers. -9 led after two days, from the opposite wave.
The course was playing fairly tough (mostly from tough pins, much less wind), but I continued to hit the ball good. I just never got anything going. It was a frustrating day, and my 73 left me tied for 11th. Not bad, but not good either.
My golf game wasn't too bad this week, I just couldn't get it going. It was a rough tee time situation, but I should have done a little better the last day. I would have made up a lot of ground. It's a long season, though, and I feel like I'm getting better everyday.
On to the Gateway Tour for the summer. 14 tournaments in Phoenix for some nice money, and a lot of experience. Fields are tough, but I'm confident that I will do well.
This is one of the tournaments which would make up "the BBQ Tour." These small town pro-ams can be a lot of fun, and there is still a little money to be made. The thing about the small town events is that the whole community gets involved. They make it feel like a big deal to win. There are nightly sidegames (slugfest, derby, etc.) that can give the pros a chance to make a little more money.
So we have Sponsor's Day on Friday, the tournament starts Saturday for two days playing with amateurs, and Monday they will re-pair the pros together for the final round. Then it's down to Phoenix for the next 4 months to play the Gateway Tour. I'm thinking HOT.
Yesterday I shot the worst round I possibly could have shot. 75. I
played WAY too good to shoot that.
It's 5:25 right now, and the insanity stops today.
My game wasn't quite as insane. A lot of work with the putter paid off, but the 30-40 mph winds took their toll. 73 today. I just feel like I'm too good to be playing like I am, so I think things are about to get going in the right direction.
This is me with the tournament organizers at the Si Cathcart Memorial, Wally, Dave, and Dean. It might have been the funnest tournament I've ever played. And I won a little scratch. I couldn't get the check away from them fast enough.
Anyhow, I played the other day at probably the best local course (Nationwide site) and went through the same thing the first ten holes. Hit it great, struggle with the putter. I made a big-breaking 8 footer on the 11th, and the hole suddenly became a bucket. Every putt coming in went in or caught a piece of the hole. I stopped trying to hit good putts and started trying to make it again. It is easy to say "just try to make it" instead of "put a good stroke on it," but there is a very subtle switch in your head that needs to flip to get into this mind-set. Once you're there, putting becomes very easy, and a lot more fun.
So I turned a poor round (+1 through 10) into a good round (-4, 68) by seeing one putt go in. ONE PUTT. Confidence is kind of important, eh? Things are shaping up.
My golf game has not been up to par of late. Quite literally. I seem to be getting closer, but I haven't been able to put it together. If I putt good, I don't hit it good. If I hit it good, I putt bad. If I hit it, chip it, and putt it good, I'll get a few bad breaks to keep me from a good round.
But fret not. Everyone goes through a rough period. If you can get through a slump, you will come out of it a better player. If you can't, well, slumps are very good at weeding out the players who are full of talent but can't take the bad times. If you can persevere, it will give you more confidence than you ever had before. If you know you can beat a slump, you can beat almost anything. You're mechanics will probably be better, too.
Whatever the reason for my recent poor play, I've got to look at this as a challenge to overcome, not a permanent roadblock. There are no free rides if you want to truly succeed in anything you do. Paying your dues through hard work will propel you to new heights.
Dig it out of the dirt.
By the way, my ball-striking is back to mid-season form. The putter mysteriously left me the last couple rounds, so we'll try to figure that
out. It's a long summer.
I got a chance to play again with Grandpa this morning. I didn't get into any of the money games (no need to make anybody upset for a couple of bucks), but I was still a part of the team Chicago. The greens were punched, but I played pretty good. I caught a part of the hole for birdie/eagle on every hole, but I ended up only making one putt for a -3 33. The team ended up a mediocre EVEN in the Chicago.
Forget the score, though. It brought me back to the days when I wasn't worried about anything but playing a game. Any game. Just playing some golf with my grandpa. Hit it, find it, hit it again, have a few laughs.
My game is coming around. No matter what I do this summer, this is a journey of improvement. Results in the short-term are not as important as the goal of improving all the time. I know I am getting better, and right now, that's all I can ask for. We all have rough times on the course, but we all need to keep in mind that the game is extraordinarily fun. And it really is a journey, with all the ups and downs that can be expected. Just keep trying to improve, have fun, and the results will take care of themselves.
After the quick 9, I drove most of the way to Phoenix. I have a little one day tournament at Legend Trail on Sunday, then the main event starts there on Tuesday. I know I'm going to have fun, hope you do too.
At least I've finally started some sort of streak. The consecutive rounds at par or better now stands at 2.
As far as stats go, my scoring average is way up this year. My birdie average is way down. My greens in regulation % is way down. My putting is slightly better than last year. I am hitting about the same % of fairways as last year, but my misses have been further off line.
So I need to get my ball-striking under control. When I do that, I'll be back on track shooting some low scores.
Back to Phoenix for the Gateway Tour