Posted by: randyhaaggolf | September 16, 2016

US SENIOR AMATEUR

Back to Old Warson for the start of the Senior Amateur, which was the site of the 1999 US Mid Amateur. Old Warson this time around looks lush, long, and quite wet. The second day of practice rounds have not gotten off the ground with thunder showers hitting the St Louis area all day today. That means this grand old course is going to play LONG!!

My hope is the USGA doesn’t start making adjustments and moving the tees forward. Candidly I felt the last two years venues were played way to short (not that it helped me). I think a National Senior championship should be conducted at 7,000 yards long.

These sloping and tight fairways will provide a significant challenge, especially for those that hit it short and crooked. Even the longer hitters will need to keep the ball in the fairways as the rough will be wet and nasty.

My strategy will be the same as in the US Senior Open at Scioto, GET THE BALL IN THE FAIRWAY, which I did not do a very good job of (10 of 28 fairways). Here at Old Warson it will be very similar, and winning matches or even qualifying will be tough out of the nasty rough. Who are the favorites, well certainly defending Champ Chip Lutz will be very tough to beat, along with other past National champs, Paul Simson, Brady Exber, Doug Hanzel, Pat Tallent, Danny Green, Tim Jackson, Randal Lewis, Vinny Giles, Buddy Marucci, Mike Bell, Buddy Alexander. All of these guys are GREAT players and will be tough in the match play portion.

The next tier of great players in the field also could have a breakthrough tournament and become a National Champion, but to win 6 matches over 4 days, against the best Senior players in the world will not be easy, especially on this difficult track. My prediction is one of the longer hitters will prevail this week, so who is your pick?

Stay tuned for more from the US Senior Amateur at Old Warson!!

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | September 1, 2016

RACE FOR DUBAI – FEDEX CUP – NCGA SENIOR PAYER OF THE YEAR

I’m pretty sure most of you are more familiar with the first two on the list, but the last one is personal, and important to me. Currently you can see that Dale Bouguennec has a slight lead with only a few events left on the calendar.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS

Last weekend I entered an event that normally I would not play in (no offense) the San Jose City Championship. It was a very well run tournament and I enjoyed it very much. Results below.

San Jose Senior City Results

So now things get VERY interesting, as we have the 200 point Senior State Fair at Mather this weekend, which will go a long way in deciding this years NCGA Senior Player of the Year. After this weekend, I am playing in the USGA Senior amateur in St. Louis at Old Warson, which honestly is not point heavy, and Dale will be playing in the NCGA Valley Am a two day stroke event with 300 points available for the winner. So what will I do about that? Once I make match play in the USGA Senior amateur I will only get 70 points, and will need to keep winning to stay ahead, or catch up depending on this weekend. If I happen to lose my Monday match (round of 64), I will be on a flight home on Monday evening so I can tee it up on Tuesday morning in Roseville at Morgan Creek to play for the title.

I guess some would ask, why do you even care? And that is often hard to answer, and the answer lies in your heart, and what’s important to you in life, whether its big or small, we all need goals and things to play and fight for. This is a friendly spirited competition between two players having great years in senior amateur golf. In this year of 2016 I have won the SF City Senior Championship, won the NCGA senior four ball, won the NCGA Match Play Championship, won the US Senior Open Qualifier, played in the USGA Four Ball, qualified for the USGA Senior Amateur, led the Senior British amateur thru 30 of 54 holes. And last weekend added the San Jose City to my list of wins. So yes, I do care about being player of the year, and I love to compete!!

My next few blogs will cover the player of the year race, the USGA Senior amateur, and some new information on FACEON PUTTING that you won’t want to miss.

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STAY TUNED!!!

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | August 24, 2016

WILD RIDE FROM US OPEN TO NCGA AMATEUR TO USGA SENIOR AM QUALIFIER

I once thought that my body could handle unlimited travel, multiple airplane segments and long stretches of driving. I have now realized that I cannot if I want to play my best golf. This game is VERY tough on your body, especially as you age. And it doesn’t matter how much you work out, your body needs rest!!

Some more than others, as my good friend Chip Lutz has accomplished something in Senior Golf I am sure has never ever been done before, or ever will. Chip last year won the USGA Senior Amateur, and recently won the British Senior Amateur in an exciting playoff, and a week later was low amateur in the US Senior Open and finished a tidy 39th. Chip for a 60+ year old seems to be quite the exception, and has a lean and strong body. While the rest of us seem to run out of gas as these events wind down.

In the US Senior Open at Scioto, as usual I had a great practice round, hitting fairways and greens (a MUST out there with the rough so penal). But since I had just traveled across the pond, had my clubs lost for a day, and didn’t sleep well, I was not in a good place with my body once the event started, resulting in shots slung all over the yard. My goal was simple, make the cut, take the exemption into the USGA Senior Amateur, and bank 500 NCGA points and take the lead in the Player of the year race. Unfortunately that did now happen, but good things were ahead.

I arrived back in California on Aug 6th, and spent one night in my bed before driving down to Poppy Hills for the start of the NCGA Senior Match play championship, I was seated 2nd so I did not have to qualify for a spot in match play starting on Tuesday. Tuesday I had a match against a very tough competition Dan Bieber who has also played in three US Senior Opens. On the first hole I bombed a drive at Poppy Hills leaving only 125 yards to the pin, during this awkward swing, I short armed myself and shanked the ball dead right into the hazard, and heard a big crack as the ball came flying back out into play. Despite this luck, I made bogey and lost the first hole. I played solid golf the rest of the day until the 17th hole when I was two up in the match, and again I shanked a shot into the right hazard to my surprise and disgust. Fortunately I was able to birdie the 18th hole and prevail 2 up, and move onto Spyglass for the next 4 matches. My game held up over these days, with rest and ice on the back, but was spent after I was successful in the Final Match against tough competition Jim Williams.

Results of the NCGA Senior Match Play

I was excited about this win, but realized that I again needed to get in the car and drive to Cameron Park for a practice round on Saturday, as the course was not available for play on Sunday. So off I went, tired and in need of some rest. After my practice round decided to head to South Lake Tahoe for the evening, a mere two hour drive. I am not sure that was such a great idea, as Monday morning on the range I knew I was in serious trouble, as I could not hit anything long straight. And this is a very tight course. I ended up hitting 5 fairways, 12 greens and somehow made enough putts to shoot 71 and advance to this years USGA Senior Amateur. I must admit it was more of a relief than a feeling of excitement. I could go through my round, but it would be disgusting to describe all the bad places I hit it off the tee. My iron shots into the greens were not great, but good enough to keep me in the hunt for one of the four spots available for all of Northern California.

What I learned long ago was how to play with a body that is hurting, its not fun, but you need to manufacture shots that will stay in bounds, out of bunkers and lakes. It was a lucky day for me, and I am very happy to be going back to Old Warson in ST Louis where I once advanced to the quarterfinals in a US Mid Amateur in the 90’s.

So if am giving advice out to people about playing with pain and less rotation then usual, find a way to choke up on your clubs and take a VERY slow backswing. The normal tendency is to swing quick and short, which as we all know does not work!!

STAY TUNED MORE LATER TODAY ON FACE ON PUTTING

 

 

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | August 10, 2016

FROM THE SENIOR AMATEUR TO THE US SENIOR OPEN

I have done a VERY poor job writing about some of the best golf on the planet, that golf you’ll find in the UK. Ok the foods not the best, but just about everything else is incredible for those of us that love to compete in the toughest of conditions, or even anyone that has an appreciation for where this crazy game was first started.

Many wonder how I can spend over a month on the road, chasing the dream of perhaps winning a major tournament like the Senior Amateur. And yes after one round at Formby Golf Club I was tied for the lead. And again during round two I held the lead up until the 15th hole, were I made a very ugly 9. I’ll spare you the details, just know that most of it was mental, and things always happen fast. I slipped to T11 after round two, and again slipped to T16 after the final and last round. It was not a very satisfying last 22 holes, but I hope to make better decisions this week in the Open.

The good news is my good friend and occasional best ball partner Chip Lutz was victorious in a three man playoff, with another friend of mine Brady Exber. These guys have both won this event in the past (Chip twice). In returning back to the 18th hole, both Chip and Brady hit good tee shots, and avoided the deep bunkers (The third player in the playoff was not as fortunate). After Brady left his birdie attempt short from 30 feet, Chip hit a very firm, but accurate putt heading for the hole. This putt rattled all around the cup, and fell to the bottom. I WISH I had video footage of the 4 foot leap in the air with fist held high. What a way to win, and again shows why Chip is such a great champion!!

Unfortunately for Brady, he did not know where he stood in the tournament on the 18th green. He had a 40 foot birdie attempt roll 4 feet by the hole, and then took little time over this putt that would have given him the championship. After he turned his card in, I told him that he had a one shot lead going into 18. HE WAS SHOCKED, as he thought he was two shots back of Chip, and not one ahead. Chip uncharacteristically three putted the 15th hole, and followed it up with another bogey on the short par three 16th hole. Brady saw chips ball on the green on the par 5 17th hole and assumed he was there in two shots, which was not the case. I am not sure what lesson there is to learn here, but I personally believe on the last hole of a tournament, you NEED to know where you stand. I felt sad for Brady, but certainly happy for my pal Chip, who in the end, made the clutch putt to take this prestigious title.

Now we are at the USGA Senior Open after one of the worst travel days in my life in getting here. This years Open is  being held at Scioto in Columbus Ohio, where Jack Nicklaus learned to play golf. Scioto is polar opposite to Formby, with one exception, you need to drive the ball VERY straight at both venues.

I plan to show some photos of Scioto, and write more about this great course. But my initial impression is it is VERY VERY TOUGH!!!

The USGA has gone out over their tips (a skiing term) with this set up. You cannot get a ball onto the green from the rough, like you could at Del Paso last year. Chipping around the greens is pure guess work. The grass is going in many directions, making it impossible to judge the amount of energy needed to hit a good chip/flop.

I am not sure what the final set up will look like until tomorrow at 7:40 when I tee off on #10. There are many great amateurs in the field, and of course the best Senior golfers in the world. I had the pleasure to play two holes with the current Senior Open Champion Roger Chapman, and was VERY impressed with a 5 iron he hit into the 8th hole that was about the purest struck ball I’ve ever seen. He followed it up with a very pure 7 iron on #9.Those of you able to place a wager on this event, I suggest you make it on Roger!!

The cut in this event will be the top 60 and ties, and my early prediction will be that 7 or 8 over will be the cut, as opposed to +5 last year.

More coming from the USGA SENIOR OPEN live here from Columbus Ohio, a very nice city!!

 

Stay tuned!!IMG_1804Number 17 a 200 yard downhill par three to a VERY NARROW green. Many tough holes on this beautiful course!

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | July 19, 2016

BITTER DISAPPOINTMENT IN SCOTLAND

I once had an amateurs dream week back in 2010. I flew to Scotland for a chance to qualify for the 2010 British Senior Open, and nailed at spot at the windy, rainy Montifieth Golf Links. I followed that up with a made cut at Carnoustie and won low amateur honors and an exemption into the 2011 event at Walton Heath. But that wasn’t the best part of the experience, it was my dad flew from Houston Texas after I qualified and watched me play 72 holes of golf in a professional major, and win the Silver Medal.

After repeating this feat again in 2011 at Walton Heath with my mom, brother and other family members there, I had a taste for how it felt to play a game you love, not for money, but just for the love of the competition and all that comes with the experience. Yesterday was a very important day for me, as I wanted so badly to have a taste of that crazy nervousness standing on the first tee at Carnoustie, praying for that shot that goes down the middle.

Yesterday again at Montifieth Golf Club, I drew the very last tee time 13:05. I tried very hard to sleep as late as possible, but the severe jet lag still had my sleep schedule messed up, and sleeping more than 2 hours at a time has been next to impossible. I arrived at the range about 1 hour before my tee time and was the last player to leave. I noticed myself with a severe case of pre-game butterflies, and on the way to the course from the driving range, I felt another episode of SVT coming on (Supraventricular tachycardia). This is something that very few people know about, over the past 30 years I have had 9 episodes of this frightening condition where your heart starts racing at over 200 BPM, and in some cases almost at 250 BPM. I usually can tell when its about to start, and its typically when I feel intense pressure. The last four times I’ve had this condition I’ve had to be rushed to the hospital to receive a drug that re-starts your heart (probably the least favorite feeling imaginable while conscious). The sheer fear of having this drug injected in your IV is to this day one of the things I fear most in life, and I cannot imagine having this condition hit while on some long International flight. I suppose the good news is that its happened 8 out of 9 times while at or on the golf course.

Fortunately I was able to concentrate hard on slowing my pulse down, and my heart never did take off into a heart arrhythmia. But certainly this was not the way I wanted to start my round off worrying about my heart taking off. My pulse and level of nervousness was considerably higher on the first tee as just right of the fairway on #1 is OB. Fortunately I drilled a drive almost onto the green, and chipped to an inch for a beginning birdie. I followed it up with several solid pars, but knew the challenge would be putting in the high winds. Folk, let me tell you that putting side saddle (Face On) in the wind is a nightmare, as the wind moves you all over the place due to your higher up stance.

After making a regrettable bogey on the tough #7 playing back into a 4 club wind, I then drove the 8th green with a baby rescue (23 degrees) and had a 30 foot eagle putt. Honestly I was trying to 2 putt this, as lately I have been putting with my eyes closed to avoid the electrical shock of watching the ball. Yes thats called the YIPS, and to have the YIPS putting side saddle is quite a nightmare. In every attempt to hit a putt with my eyes open, I knew at the last second that I would be better served to quickly close them. After a 2 putt for birdie on #8 I stood even par for the day, which with the high winds was quite respectable. #9 a long par 5 into the wind was a good hole for me, and resulted in a 20 foot birdie try that somehow eluded the bottom of the cup. I was in disbelief that this perfect looking putt some how eluded going in, but as you all know, thats golf, and thats how it rolls sometimes. After solid par on #10 the next hole was a 190 yard par three into a stiff wind, and I ripped a 5 iron to pin high, and again a putt that looked in, somehow got around the cup. Honestly a par on that hole was ok, and at level par I was in very good shape. The 12th hole was a good par after a two putt from 50 feet.

But now I had the in to the wind holes left, and the 13 hole is a long par 4 measuring about 432 yards, but on this windy day, the tee was up 20 yards making this hole very managable. My driver had been so so today, and when I really needed to stripe one here, I got quick from the top, and hit a slinging hook into a small gorse bush (NOT GOOD) after a pitch out and a good shot into the green, I had a 20 footer for par, that again eluded the bottom of the cup, as to say, this is not your day Randy.

The patience required to play in one of these qualifiers when you are grinding your guts out is perhaps the most physically, and mentally challenging thing you can do in life. To swing a club at the tiny ball while your heart is pounding is quite difficult to say the least. I think my round was defined at the next hole, a par three playing only 155 yards over a front bunker, that was dead into the wind. I chose a 6 iron, and like the shot on #11, I saw my ball soaring straight at the pin, and then bounce up towards the hole. I was very excited that I would have a good chance to redeem the bogey made on the last hole. I was surprised when I walked up and my shot was 15 feet short, but still a very makable straight in birdie attempt. Let me tell you about putting with your eyes closed, at times its very difficult to judge the distance with the amount of HIT you give the putts. On this birdie try I was determined to give this a good go, and a good go I gave it. The putt ended 4 feet past, and with great fear, I missed the comeback, thus digging a deeper hole for myself now at +2 on the round. The 15th hole was cross wind, and after a 330 yard drive over a hill, I had 80 yards to a pin that I could attack. I left the hole with a par, and knew that time was running out.

On the short 16th hole measuring 340 yards I chose a 3 metal, despite being back into the strong wind, there were two large bunkers looping out about 260 yards off the tee, and to make a birdie on this hole I needed to avoid these bunkers. My shot went a bit left, but ended up at the front of the 17th tee box on tightly mowed grass, with a perfect lie. I had 116 yards to the back pin, and decided to chip a 9 iron into the wind. This is the point in the round where you either get it done, or you don’t. The brutally slow play was taking its toll on my patience and this shot was my downfall in this qualifier. I very impatiently quick hit this 9 iron left and long, leaving me with an impossible up and in, and making a bogey 5 on this short hole was devastating. I followed it up with another bogey on the 17th hole knowing I was over the qualifying score. There is NEVER any give up in me, so on the tough 18th hole, a par 5 into the wind, I almost reached the green in two, and finally made a putt for an ending birdie. The disappointment was paramount however, knowing I was in control, and in a great position at level par after 12 holes. I ended up missing playing again at Carnoustie by two shots, my 74 needed to be a 72.

So now I move on to the next event, the Senior Amateur being played at Fornby on August 3-5 followed by the Senior US OPEN in Columbus Ohio. I hope to have photos posted of Fornby, and more coverage on how I will play this great Scottish course. Obviously from my latest experience I know that I will need to work hard on many areas of my game. This game is REALLY hard, but under pressure it can be excruciating, and very frustrating. My patience level and inner calm need a check up, and in the future I need to feed off what just happened at Montifieth, and continue to learn from my shortcomings.

In the end, it was the putts I made coming in during the US Senior Open qualifier that got me in, I again struggle with my ball striking once I hit -2 for the day. That is what makes this past weekends British Open so remarkable what those two fine champions did down the stretch. I can only imagine how disappointed Phil must be feeling after such an amazing round. If we all only had it so good!!!

I hate to apologize for the grammatical errors, so please excuse them, and know thats how I roll on this blog. Coming up in a few days, more on the exciting changes to the upcoming 2017 SF City Championship

 

STAY TUNED

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | July 11, 2016

HELP ME SAVE THE HISTORIC SAN FRANCISCO CITY GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP

To all of you avid golf enthusiasts, please help me and all those involved with the Historic SF City “The City” bring this event back to its home TPC Harding Park. The cost to run this event at TPC Harding Park has run the event away from its historic home. With green fees at $145 a round, the city moved most of the event away from its home Harding for most of its 100 year past. This is the longest running amateur tournament in the world, and we need your help to bring it back to TPC Harding Park. Please click on this link!!

SAVE THE SF CITY GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP

Your donation will 100% be used to offset the cost of the higher greens fees, and allow underprivileged golfers a chance to compete in this Historic event. Please just take one minute and make any size contribution to save the City!!

Your help is greatly appreciated and please share this with others that you feel will want to also help this great cause.

This crazy golf blog was originally created out of frustration about the lack of media coverage for an event that was once carried on the front page of the green sheet (The Sf Chron Sports page). And now here we are trying to bring this famous and storied event back to its original home, where it belongs. In numbers we have strength to make this happen, please join me in this great cause!!

STAY TUNED

 

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