I used to enjoy writing about golf when I was excited about playing, competing, practicing and traveling to play in events around the world. This joy has wavered over the past two years for several reasons. ONE is that I have not performed consistently over this period of time, and have struggled mightily with my side saddle putting.
But instead of whining about my poor play, perhaps I can write something interesting that won’t be a waste of your time.
SUCCESS is not playing well for nine holes- US OPEN LOCAL QUALIFIER at the PRESERVE, best field I’ve ever seen at a local Open qualifier, and to top it off we were 6 players short of a 5th qualifying spot that all the other Nor Cal sites had. After a good start off #10 with three pars and a birdie, the 14th hole has always tortured me, with its green and angle of approach to the green. I chose a 5 iron from 190 out and hit a solid shot to the back of the green. After three putts walked off with my first bogey of the day. The 15th hole is an uphill par 4 that we played from 475 into the wind. After a perfect drive I have 205 to the pin uphill and into a one club breeze, again I took the bigger club (I am 55 now) and fired a rescue over the green and fought to make bogey. 16 was routine par, I ran up the hill to 17 tee and blocked a drive straight right into a field of tall weeds and proceeded to make a double bogey seven. The thought process was okay here we go again, a ruined round with one bad shot, but I decided enough of this negative shit, get positive and play hard for the next ten holes.
After a solid par on 18, I was faced with the one shot I do not enjoy at the Preserve, the tee shot off number 1 is elevated to a fairway that pinches down to a narrow opening. I decided to take a drive deep, as I have nothing to lose. After a pull cut perfect I ended up with a sliding 20 footer that I made for birdie (now +2 on the day). The second hole was almost a hole in one from 195 downhill to with a six iron, now +1. Number 3 was a missed 6 footer, still plus 1. Number 4 was the most exciting hole I’ve played in many years. I have played in 13 Stocker Cup events at this great course and every time I’ve had this second shot into this green, you need to hit it over a tree left and have it bounce down and onto the green. FINALLY I hit the shot I’ve been trying to hit since I started playing here, the result was a ball that looked like it was going in for double eagle, but hanging on the lip I settled for eagle and moved to -1 on the day.
The 5th hole gave me another chance at birdie, I missed a makable 10 footer. The 6th hole was a glitch, as I hit a 6 iron over the pin to 25 feet, followed it up with a three putt bogey. But birdies on 7 and 8 got me to -2 on the day and a chance to get one of the 4 spots. After a good drive and wedge on the 450 yard 9th hole, I had a 15 foot birdie putt that I knew was important, and it was. I missed a little high, and saw my fate sealed as the 4th score below 70 came into the scorers area with only one group left.
39-31 is not the kind of scoring consistency I am looking for, so what do I do to fix this?
The answer is simple, work harder, practice smarter, exercise more often, and fix what is making me flinch at my longer putts. All easier said than done. I have had hundreds of people ask me about Side Saddle putting, and most are looking for a quick fix, but like anything there is NO quick fix in this game. There is no tip that is going to make you a scratch player. Its all about hard work and making baby steps. In the end, its how bad you want it, and what your willing to sacrifice to get there. But if you do not believe in yourself, it will never happen. I have my own doubts about wether or not I will ever get it back to where it was in 2011. And sometimes I’m not sure I care, but I know that deep down I care a lot.
Life is complicated and tough, and this game can make life more enjoyable, and certainly more frustrating. It is the game of great revealing, it will expose us of all our weaknesses, our frustrations and what is going on in our lives. Patience is not always an easy thing for some of us, but if you put the time and work into this game, you will see results. In the end, nobody really cares but us, and nobody will ever really know the sacrifice of time and life that some need to make to play at a level the aspire to.
Coming up are many exciting opportunities to play amazing courses in amazing events, here is the upcoming schedule. Olympic Club Stroke Play Championship June 7&8. NCGA Masters June 9&10th at Del Monte and Spyglass Hill. California State Amateur at La Costa CC JUne 16th-20th. US SENIOR OPEN QUALIFIER – Green Valley June 24th. Monterey City Am at Del Monte July 4-6th. US SENIOR OPEN 10-13th at Oak Tree where I played in the 1984 US AM. July 15th leave for England for the Senior Open and the British Senior Amateur, back Aug 9th. NCGA Amateur championship Aug 11-15th.
Thats enough for now, I will be back to tell you what I am doing to get my game back in shape. The keys are mental preparations, diet, exercise, proper instruction, and stress testing what I’ve learned.