THE GAME HAS CHANGED

Typically I’ll have a void in my posting here after a disappointing golfing experience, and last Friday and Saturday were quite disappointing. It was the start of the first major amateur event after the COVID 19 halt.

What it did was halt my confidence and WAGR ranking. Amateurs that care about their World Ranking, need to plan their events very carefully as the new system uses a power ranking for each event, and a declining points method over the 104 weeks your tournaments count.

Since I knew the NCGA Stroke play was a high power ranking event, that playing well would really help me, and playing poorly would hurt me. After a VERY disappointing 77-79 and missing the all time low cut by 10 shots, I saw my WAGR ranking sink by 181 places and move me from 24th in the world senior rankings to #29.

At the end of 2019 I was in the #8 position, and have dropped 21 places since the beginning of the year. The majority of the drop was due to the new power ranking method that gave some of my better performances way diminished in my total number. The WAGR ranking is very complex and confusing, and sometimes I don’t know what events I should or shouldn’t enter. In early March the Moot Thomas event I played in Florida dropped my ranking after a T3 finish, as I needed a 2nd or win to maintain and/or increase my total points.

The California Golf Association has graciously extended me an exemption into the California State Amateur being held at the incredible Torrey Pines Golf complex, the site of the 2021 US Open. Since I played my collegiate golf at San Diego State University and played Torrey a lot in the past, I felt that this was the perfect venue to end my career in the Cal State Am, one of my favorite all time events.

But the challenge will be the star studded college player strong field of 156 players vying for the 32 match play spots. We will play the South Course between 7,108 and 7741 yards (at Sea Level) and the North course at 7080 yards. For the College bombers this will not be a problem, the longer the better. But for a Senior at age 61, those 510 yard par 4 into the wind will be very tough.

Last weekend I was paired with two very good college players, one from Chico State and the other from Fresno State. I unfortunately was not driving the ball my best, but on one hole at Poppy Hills, the old 3rd hole and now with the reroute the 12th hole, from the Jones tees plays about 465 yards uphill into the wind. The kid from Fresno State flies the ball very high, and the wind does not seem to slow his ball down. On this dogleg left hole, from the very back tees he flew his drive over the trees on the left leaving him a flip sand wedge to a back pin.

Me on the other had hit a low driving ball that hit into the hill, and left me with a blind shot of over 200 yards uphill and into the wind. This may be an extreme case, but on the par 5 ninth hole uphill 520 yard hole, he hit drive 3 iron to 15 feet with a back pin. Nowadays this is more the norm for these players, not the exception.

Watching the Memorial its astounding that Bryson hit two drives over 400 yards (with lots of roll) but this distance off the tee gives these players a chance to hit highly lofted clubs into tight areas of the greens, while I am now required to shoot for the middle of the green.

So what’s the solution for me at 61 were my driver club head speed has gone from 112 mph to 105. I can either work like hell on my body, technique and diet and strive to get that yardage back, or I can give up on playing against the kids (and mid ams 25-55) and stick to playing senior golf.

Tiger today said in his interview that getting old SUCKS, yes it does. He clearly is not the golfer at 44 that he was in the past, and probably never will be with his beaten up body. The solution is to limit the number of high torque swings you make, stop hitting lots of balls, and do more stretching, yoga, and smart weight training. Easier said than done.

This weekend I am playing in the 89th annual Oakland City at Lake Chabot, a course that I played as a kid, and has the famous par 6 hole on #18.

I have 10 days to prepare for the start of the California State Amateur at Torrey Pines against a super star studded field. I DO NOT want to embarrassment myself so I will be doing everything I can over the next 10 days to make sure I don’t see another 181 ranking drop in the WAGR.

Stay tuned, next week will be filled with new posts and information

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