Ben Geyer has had quite an impressive stretch of golf over the past month with a runner up finish to Kevin Marsh in the Cal State amateur, a runner up finish in the Sahalee Players Championship, and now a win at this NCGA Championship. I face Ben again tomorrow at the 36 hole US Amateur qualifier at Marin CC, I predict Ben will qualify easily. Three rounds under par at the tricky Poppy Hills is quite impressive. This is one of the strongest NCGA fields of the year, rich with many of the top college players.
Why does Poppy Hills plays so tough when it’s only approx 6,900 yards long, with 5 par fives and five par 3’s. Especially with the par 5 holes all reachable in two shots except when the back tee is used on #4. The par 4 holes are right around 400 yards long, the fairways are generous, and the greens are not tiny targets, so why does Poppy play so difficult. Well the answer is it’s hard to get the ball close to the pin, and the par three holes are tough. The wind usually is a factor and it just seems that it’s very hard to make putts on these greens. This will be the last time this event will be played on the course as we know it now. Starting this Spring, Poppy will go under a complete renovation that will create a beautiful championship course with reconfigured holes and new green complexes. Next years NCGA Stroke play championship will most likely be at Bayonet and Black Horse.
As for my game, well it was fun getting into the hunt with birdies on the par five holes, 9, 10 and 12 to get back to even par for the tournament (which would have tied for 2nd) however it’s been a while since I’ve been in the hunt, so I got quick with two swings on 15 and 16 resulting in ugly bogeys when I needed birdies. On 17 I hit a great shot to 12 feet and missed and the caper was on the 18th hole where I only had 200 yards left for my second shot into this par five. I knocked the ball onto the back fringe, and left myself a 3 foot birdie putt that would have put me into a tie for third.
It’s a bit crazy to be nervous after having played hundreds of tournaments in the hunt. But it never changes, players will always get some elevated pulse when they are coming down the stretch. The key is to NOT GET QUICK WITH YOUR SWING. I got quick with my swing on 15 and 16, which cost me a great shot at second place. The good news is my world ranking will go up from 394 and possible stay under 400 by July 25th which is the date that those Mid Amateurs ranked in the top 400 in the world receive an exemption in this years event. The interesting thing is there are only a handful of players over 25 ranked in the top 400 as the R&A ranking system is rich with college tournaments, and college players.
I must admit I will not miss the OLD POPPY HILLS, and hope that the new POPPY will inspire NCGA members to come from all over Northern California to play our NCGA owned jewel. Stay tuned for more on this renovation as I am an adviser to the POPPY HOLDING COMPANY BOD.
STAY TUNED FOR US AMATEUR RESULTS AND HOW I’LL BE PREPARING NEXT WEEK FOR THE START OF THE BRITISH SENIOR OPEN AT TURNBERRY STARTING JULY 26TH
ARTICLE ON THE NCGA STROKE PLAY COURTESY OF THE NCGA: