Posted by: randyhaaggolf | October 10, 2017

USGA MID AM ENDS WITH A THUD

What’s hard about writing a golf blog is that after a day like yesterday, I want badly to take a long time off from golf. The fact is that yesterday was perhaps the worst competitive round I played in 2017.

I knew on the driving range I was in trouble as I couldn’t seem to get my full range of motion working. I was slinging shots left and right. The harsh truth is that when your younger you don’t have many days where you can’t get properly loose on the driving range. As I have aged, its always a VERY good indicator of how I will play based on my range of motion on the driving range in my warm up.

I don’t like writing about my putting woes, as they come and go, but yesterday started with 3 straight holes where I yipped (eyes open) a putt from inside 4 feet and started off bogey, bogey, bogey, par , bogey.

On a VERY tough course with very little cushion to make match play, I was pretty much doomed off the poor start I had.

I am not a big fan of writing about my defeats, but in the end I need to learn from them, and make adjustments if I intend to compete at this level. I think the honest truth is that competing against the defending champion, Stewart Hagestad  (who shot 64 on the tough Crabapple Course) has passed me by. I believe that entering a tournament you cannot win, is a mistake, unless its a professional major, where there is a competition for low amateur.

My best ball partner and good friend Jason Anthony just finished off 4 time USGA Mid AM champion Nathan Smith, and is the guy to beat in this tournament. Jason is playing GREAT golf, and has a lot of confidence right now.

Stay tuned for more coverage from the US Mid Am

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | October 9, 2017

US Mid Amateur

These are some photos I took of the beautiful Capital City Crabapple course, which is hosting the 37th US Mid-Amateur Championship.

Play was canceled due to a tropical storm that hit on Sunday, today we resume the second round of qualifying leading to 64 players advancing to match play at days end.

On Saturday I shot 2 over par 73 at Atlanta National leaving me in the hunt for one of these coveted 64 spots.

Real time scoring is available at http://www.USGA.Org

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | October 3, 2017

THE FUTURE OF SIDE SADDLE PUTTING IS IN GOOD HANDS

I had the pleasure of working with a wonderful 8 year old side saddle putter her name is Naomi.

She already has a VERY good side saddle stroke, and her dad is doing her a huge favor by starting her putting side saddle. Remember famous putting author Dave Pelz wrote that if he were to start a new golfer putting, it would be using the Side Saddle technique. I AGREE WITH HIM

Here are some clips from my lesson with Naomi, I think you all will agree that she already has a beautiful putting stroke, and she will make a lot of putts in the future.

Meet Naomi – she 8 years old

right leg forward left leg back

get behind your putt to make sure the putter is aimed at your intended line

Alignment

Naomi making putts

A quick stroke

Walk into your putt on the intended lineNaomi making a great stroke

If you want help with putting side saddle, just ask. I am here to help you!!

Tomorrow I leave for the USGA Mid Am, I’ll have  photos from Capital City Club in Atlanta.

STAY TUNED

 

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | September 30, 2017

THE STREAK CONTINUES

Competitive golf will test every aspect of your mettle, patience and psyche. Yesterdays stunning finish to the 56th annual Northern California Senior Amateur at Poppy Hills fit exactly into the theme of my past 4 events. I’ve held the lead in each, while surrendering each event in various different ways on the 17th and or 18th holes.

When your in the heat of battle, your pulse is up, your heart rate is up, your trying to stay calm and smooth, its very very difficult. Yesterday I held a 2 shot lead with 5 holes to go, on the 14th hole, Tony Padilla made a mistake that left him over the 14th green at Poppy Hills facing a bogey or double bogey. He heroically smashed in a 35 foot par putt from off the green to keep my lead at 2 after I missed a short birdie putt.

My mistake in this finish were the bogies I made on 15 and 16 holes, opening the door for Tony’s fantastic finish. On the 17th hole we both hit great tee shots on this VERY narrow par 4 hole. Tony was about 30 yards behind me, so I didn’t see his 2nd shot. I hit a solid shot myself to 10 feet below the hole and as I approached the green saw a ball 2 feet from the hole. Gary Vanier playing in our group did not walk to this ball, and at that moment I know I need to make my birdie putt to remain one ahead going to the 18th hole.

My birdie putt on 17 looked in, until it lipped out on the low side, bringing Tony and I even at -1 for the tournament heading to the 54th and last hole. The 18th hole at Poppy Hills (The old 9th hole as the 9’s have been reversed) is reachable easily in 2 as the tee was up. There was a strong wind in our face, and Tony hit an amazing tee shot over the right bunker with a draw leaving him 225 to the front of the green. My drive was not ideal, as I ended up in the left fairway bunker, and layed up with an 8 iron. Tony hit a decent shot onto the very front of the green, leaving him 70-80 feet from the pin. My second shot from 100 yards landed 2 inches short of flying into the hole, and pulled back to 7 feet for birdie.

What happened next I have never experienced before in my golfing career. Tony from 70 feet, downhill with many breaks in both directions, calmed rolled this monster putt into the cup, and sealed the victory, he belted out a very loud scream of joy, which I thought was appropriate for such an amazing putt. I gave him knuckles and was not surprised that he made the putt. Call it destiny, or whatever you want, but for some reason I felt he was going to do something amazing to capture the title, and he did. Like the NCGA article stated, I really like each of the guys that have leaped over me in the past four events. I tip my cap to them, and always keep an eye looking forward.

My BIG decision now is, do I fly to Atlanta and play in the USGA Mid Amateur, or do I stay at home and play in the Olympic Club Championship and the NCGA Mid Am four ball. Many think I am CRAZY for even considering NOT playing in a National Amateur event, but the truth is the guys that are 25 years old hit the ball longer and straighter than me, and walking 36 holes 3 days in a row is VERY challenging. SO the question is, do you play in the events you think you can win…? Or do you go and play in the National Championship and try to take down as many young guns as you can?

Either way I’ll have photos of whichever event I finally decide to play in, if you have an opinion I’d love to hear from you. I love this game, I love to compete, and I love the people associated in the great game of golf.

NCGA SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS

STAY TUNED

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | September 26, 2017

2017 CRUMP CUP – My journey to the final match

This years Crump was played in ideal conditions, fast and firm!!

The weather was warm, actually quite hot on Sunday with temperatures hitting 90+, making the greens very firm. Quality shots where required to hold these perfect green surfaces. Rarely do we get to play a course in this kind of championship conditions.

My journey in the 2017 Crump started on day 1, Thursday with a very interesting round, and quite typical for Pine Valley. If you keep the ball in play off the tee, you can score. Hit an offline tee shot and pay the price. On day one, I hit the ball well off the tee, resulting in 16 hit greens in regulation. Thats the good news, the bad news is on #7 and #11 I missed the fairways and made two 7’s. A double on the 7th hole and a four putt triple on the 11th hole.

Fortunately I offset these 7’s with 5 birdies and shot even par 70. Only the top eight players make the Championship flight in the Senior Flight. With the 8th score being 76, I knew I had a bit of a cushion going into Fridays last stroke round. On Friday I played a solid front nine (which was started on #10) shooting 36 putting me at one over for the qualifier. The front nine is where you can make some higher scores, and I certainly did, starting with a three putt bogey on #1, followed by an ugly double on #2, another double on #4 and #5. I was able to smooth the round out and shot 77 for a 147 total and the number #3 seed.

Unfortunately my playing partner had a mishap on the 16th hole on day 1, made a 10, and ended up in the number 6 seed. That player, Matt Sughrue was runner up in last years US Senior Amateur at Old Watson. Matt absolutely bombs his 3 wood (close to 300 yards) and I knew my match with him Saturday afternoon was going to be a tough match.

Matt and I traded early holes, and on the back nine I made my 4th consecutive birdie on the 12th hole to get a one up advantage. Matt squared the match on the 15th hole with a par. I was able get my focus back and hit quality shots on 16 and 17 to go birdie – birdie to win the match 2-1. My reward was to now play Gene Elliott, perhaps the hottest senior amateur, coming of a victory in the Canadian Senior Am, and a recent 4 time Pine Valley Club Champion.

Gene and I played in the 2000 Crump Cup finals, with that one going my way on the 19th hole. We called this match, the re-match. And it started out not so good for me, with consecutive 3 putts on 1 and 2. I began my birdie bing on the 3rd hole, and continued to make 5 birdies for a thrilling 5&4 win against the strongest player in the Senior field.

So I advanced to the Finals Sunday afternoon against the medalist, John McClure who shot a stellar 141 total. I’ve played John a few times in past Crump Cups, and knew this would be a tight match.

The start of this match was a TRAIN WRECK for me, making double on 1, 2 and 3 getting to a quick 3 down hole. I finally hit some quality shots on the tough 4th hole and made a winning birdie, only to follow it up with another double bogey on the tough 5th hole. At this point I said NO MORE, and gutted out wins on holes 6 and 8 to get to one down heading to the 10th hole. We both made mistakes on #10, which left us both tricky downhill par putts. That hole went my way drawing the match even, and new life.

I always feel very confident on the back nine, and believe those holes are my holes to play my best golf. But again a mistake on 11 cost me the hole, and back to one down. We halved the 12th and on the 13th, made one of the best pars I’ve ever made. I hooked my tee shot down the left hill, and luckily into a bunker. My second shot was thin and headed towards the skinny bunker right of the green. The shot hit a tree and ended up ON the tree stump. I had a slick chip, and not knowing what was under my ball, I played an explosion shot on the fringe and down the hill 15 feet past the hole. John had almost the same par putt as me, barely missed it, and I was able to pour it in for a winning par to tie up the match again.

On the 14th hole I had 164 down hill to a front left pin, I wanted to blast a 9 iron, but was short in the morning match with it. I had adrenaline pumping so I trusted the 9 iron would be enough to get there and it was, leaving me a 30 footer. John 2 putted for par, and watched as I assessed this tricky downhill slider. I hit this putt WAY to hard and knew I would needed some help from the cup, the putt slammed into the middle of the hole and went down for a winning birdie.

We both played the 15th hole well making our par 5’s on perhaps the toughest par 5 in the world. You MUST hit 3 quality shots here to have any chance at par or birdie. Sitting one up with three holes to go, I felt quite good. I really like the last three finishing holes. I hit a perfect drive on 16 leaving me an 8 iron to a back left pin that sits on a plateau. John  came up short and was left with a 50 footer, and I managed to get my shot pin high, leaving me a tricky 12 foot putt for birdie. John made a nice 2 putt for par. I went with eyes closed on this putt as the pressure was beginning to affect my distance control. With that I left my birdie attempt short, and went to the 17th with a slim one up lead.

On 17 we both hit good tee shots, but John’s second shot had the gallery around the green going wild. This pin was on the right back plateau of the green, a very difficult place to get a shot close. You go long here and your dead. I was very careful with my approach and left in 15 feet pin high left of the hole. John was 4 feet away, and after my missed birdie attempt, he calmly holed this birdie putt to once again square the match.

The 18th hole at Pine Valley is AWESOME!!! You have a generous driving area until you don’t. John’s tee shot found the right rough just short of the right bunkers. With my heart pounding a laced a 3 wood down the right center, leaving me 128 yards to carry the front of the green. The pin was middle right, a friendly pin in most cases.

John was about 30 yards behind me, and carefully assessed his shot. To mt surprise his second shot went low and dead left, heading towards the lake left of the green. It glanced off a tree and pushed it right, not in the lake, but under a grove of trees, but with a shot to the green.

It was my turn now, I knew a par was probably going to be good enough to win this match, and be the 2017 Crump Cup Champion. That of course is not what your suppose to be thinking about. My first immediate thought was is a pitching wedge enough club to carry the front of the green. At first I thought it was enough no problem, but I back off the ball once, which I never do, and asked my caddie also named Randy if he thought I had enough club. He responded, “Randy you’ve got this” so with a little concern about coming up short, I hooded my wedge slightly knowing that the green slopes severely from left to right. And I did just that my wedge went to the left side of the green, landed on the front third of the green, and DID not go right much. I was quite surprised the ball ended in the middle of the green, leaving me a pin high 30 foot putt downhill breaking left to right.

Meanwhile John hit a good chip shot that ended about 20 feet above the hole, leaving him a very difficult downhill slider. This is where I have struggled over the past few years. Under extreme pressure I seem to lose my distance control, and unfortunately this was the case on my first putt that I hit way to hard ending 6 feet past the hole. John’s par attempt rolled by on the high side and 4 feet past the hole.

On my putt from 6 feet uphill right to left, I decided at the last second to go eyes closed to avoid a surge of electricity, and once my eyes opened I watched the putt lip out on the high side, leaving me with a 3 putt bogey, and making an opening for John to stay alive and take this final match to extra holes. John like he did all day with his deadly bullseye putter calmly rolled his uphill putt in for what I am sure was a great relief for him after hitting a second shot that I’m sure he thought ended his chances (As I would have).

The first hole has been both my savior and my demise. And on this day, in this situation it was my demise. I hit a horrible blocked chunked three wood deep into the right woods leaving me no escape. It took me two to get out, and left me with a 20 foot bogey putt that I missed. John won the match with a winning bogey on the 19th hole. John is a great player and a great champion, and if I had to lose to someone I am glad it was to him.

My two favorite events are the Olympic Club Championship (match play) and the Crump Cup. In the past 12 months I had a chance to win both events on the last hole (36th in the Olympic Club finals) and the 18th in the Crump Cup. In both cases I had 30 foot putts that I needed to two putt. I didn’t in either case, and now try to reflect on those poor endings with some positive light.

In the end, I am an amateur, and I love to compete. I do not make a living making or missing putts. I love the game, I love to compete, and hope that one day soon I will make a winning putt on the last hole. The beauty of that is all the mishaps make the winning so special. It is VERY hard to beat the beat senior amateurs in the world. I will continue to try to improve so I can compete at this level.

Back home, and up next this week is the NCGA Senior Stroke play championship at Poppy Hills. No time to feel sorry about what happened at PV, time to refocus on this weeks  important event, as I am still leading the point race for NCGA Senior Player of the Year.

STAY TUNED

 

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | September 26, 2017

IS THE CRUMP CUP THE BEST AMATEUR TOURNAMENT IN THE WORLD

Rating tournaments is like rating courses, they are different and vary greatly in venue, weather, surrounding area, distance from home. BUT its without question that Pine Valley is the #1 ranked course in the world, and that we get to play this magnificent course in the absolute best conditions. So most will easily conclude that the Crump Cup is the best. It combines stroke play qualifier over two day to determine the championship flight for match play. In match play, you can let er rip out there and not worry too much about making a 10 on a hole (which is easy to do).

The whole experience at Pine Valley is unique, once you arrive at the property you never leave. The accommodations are spectacular, the food is perhaps the best you’ll find anywhere, and the staff there is just down right awesome!!

DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND PUT PLAYING PINE VALLEY ON YOUR BUCKET LIST

So would I rate the CRUMP CUP the best amateur event in the world, well YES I would for a Mid Am/ Senior am event that is an Invitational. There are many other good ones, including the Coleman at the amazing Seminole, and many many others like the George Thomas at LACC, which personally I cannot attest to, as I have never been invited to play, not sure why, but nobody will tell me)) All my good friends LOVE the event in Beverly Hills, at a course that just hosted the Walker Cup.

Below are some clips of Pine Valley that I thought I would share with you. If you think this blog is worthy of sharing with others, please do. I sell no advertising here, this is all about the love of the game, and my experiences as an amateur playing in some amazing amateur and professional majors.

In my next post I will talk about my experience at the 2017 Crump Cup and my ride to the finals of the event, and what happened and how I feel about it now. STAY TUNED

The Cottages at Pine Valley

Practice facilities at Pine Valley

Pine Valley’s first tee shot

More on how to play the first hole at Pine Valley

second shot on PV’s amazing 1st hole

new look of the par three 3rd hole

swinging off the first tee at Pine Valley

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