For those of you that haven’t played Martis Camp, you need to find a way to play this beautiful and amazing course in the Truckee area. Check the photos out at www.martiscamp.com.
Because of this great venue there were many players from California and Nevada entered to play at this location. I decided on Martis Camp after I had to change venues after I qualified for the US Amateur at Erin Hills. My choices were Green Hills in Millbrae or Contra Costa CC in Pleasant Hill. Once I searched further I noticed Martis Camp the site of this years Pacific Coast Amateur, and decided that it would be worth the trip up to Martis, especially since my pal Brendan O Neil invited me and Mikie Staskus to the guest day event on Friday.
I cannot describe all the fun that was had all of those days and nights leading up to the Monday qualifier, but lets just say I didn’t quite give this one my usual preparation and it showed on my rocky front nine today. Let’s just say that Truckee is fun…and Reno can be even more fun. We spent our weekend Fly Fishing, eating, and in Reno playing some Black Jack and Baccarat, and of course some minor sports betting. Mikie, a good friend and fraternity pledge brother at SDSU a few years back, and I scoped out the course again on Sunday and prepared a game plan for Monday.
Martis Camp is one of the Tahoe area courses where the elevation adds an element of difficulty when trying to calculate the 15% extra distance the ball goes in the thin air. With a field stacked with god players and only 4 spots available, I figured that even par would have a good chance to qualify for the 31st US Mid Amateur Championship at Shadow Hawk Golf Club September 17-22, 2011. My weekend had some extra difficulty mixed in as I learned that my dear dad in Houston (who is 30 minutes from the course) was going to have open heart surgery tomorrow, Tuesday in Houston. I spoke to my dad before I tee it up and told him I loved him and that he would do great on Tuesday.
Again life and the importance of life, especially my dads life hit me very very hard. The qualifier became less important, but important because I would be coming to see him if I qualified (not that I wouldn’t go to see him anyways) but this was a qualifier to get to my dad and Houston and see him a few weeks after his surgery. I don’t typically share such personal information on these posts, but I feel a mention of the emotions I was feeling during this qualifier will help you understand why it was so important to me, and why it was such a WILD ride.
I am exhausted after the 4 hour drive back home so the summary of the round will be short and to the point. Being in the very last group at 10:40 was going to add an element of difficulty itself with the wind and LONG round. After a solid par on 1 and a nice birdie on #2, we waited on the downhill par three 3rd hole for about 15 minutes. This is never a good thing for me a fast player, that doesn’t like to wait, especially on holes where I’m not that comfortable with the shot. This was just a stock 8 iron down hill to a front right pin. The swing and result was horrendous with a chunked pull into the water, a drop, another shot on the green followed by a missed 2 footer for double bogey..The first triple bogey of the year…ughhhhhhh. Okay I’m only 2 over par now and I figured I had 4 par 5 holes and I could recover. So the 4th hole is the easiest of the par 5 holes that can be a driver 8 iron to the green. After a six iron just short and another chunked shot short, I walked off with a 5 that felt like a bogey. The 5th hole again was not played well, resulting in another bogey to go to +3 on the round and sinking fast.
Did I still think I had a chance to qualify even after playing the easy holes +3…well yes I did, and I battled hard to end the front nine at +3 for a whopping 39. Hardly the start I was looking for!
The tenth hole was a struggle as well leaving me a 6 foot putt for par to avoid going to +4 on the day and probably the final stake to my chances. I was able to make the 6 footer for par, then missed a short birdie putt on 11, followed by another 2 putt par on 12. So 6 holes to go and +3 on the day..not looking good to get in my 3rd USGA Championship in 2011. But this is when things turned for me, a good 3 metal and 9 iron to 6 feet on 13 finally allowed me to make a putt and get some forward momentum. That butterfly feeling came back into my gut and I drilled a nice 52 degree sand wedge to 6 feet again on 14 and again made the putt. Now I felt it was game on, and a chance to come from WAY behind to get into this National Championship. But of course now I had the very easy and birdie able 15th hole to deal with. After a good drive and 3 metal, I was in the greenside bunker, resulting in a disappointing par, leaving me +1 on the day with the drivable 16th hole. A poor drive and decent chip left me with a 10 foot birdie putt that I again made to get to even on the day going into 17.
17 was playing down wind at 200 yards which probably was only an 8 iron. I hit a pulled 7 iron into the rough and short sided myself with a FAST downhill chip. A good chip still left me 10 feet for par. My friend and playing partner in my group Jon Peterson, was also at even and was putting for birdie. He made his par, and I was faced with a 10 footer uphill straight putt to stay even and keep in the hunt. I focused on keeping my head down and body still, and I calmly rolled in the par saver to give me a huge boost going into the 18th hole a downwind, downhill tee shot.
This is where the experience pays off. I calmly focused on a good target and just concentrated on a slow and smooth take away, followed by a full backswing and follow through the ball. I stayed down and through and hit a nice drive down the middle. After a quick discussion with my awesome caddie Sprauge (sorry if that’s spelled wrong) we decided we needed to know what the qualifying score was currently at, so I saw my pal Dave Nelson who said there were 4 spots, and a 68, 73 and 74 were in, meaning I could make a bogey and qualify. Nobody likes to bogey the last hole to qualify, but this was way to important to a chance going to the back right pin, so I hit a 60 degree sand wedge to the front left of the green, leaving a 50 foot putt. After a good lag to 2 feet, I had safely come back from a +3 front nine and posted a -3 33 back nine to finish second and qualify for my 29th USGA Event, but more importantly a trip to see my dad in Houston.
I want to take a moment to thank all of you that read this blog. I hope you find this interesting and worth reading?