I’d rather write about what an awesome place Torrey Pines is than talk about how I played the back nine on the South course yesterday. I am disgusted at my 35-43 =78 as I had a chance to make my very last round ever in the California State Am a very memorable one. But it didn’t happen.
The game of golf has changed so much over the past 10, 20 and 30 years that I wonder if the old style of shaping shots and moving the ball around will ever matter again. Corey Pavin once won a US Open by hitting precise shots off the tee and into the greens. If he were to play Torrey South today at 7800 yards, he would not have any reasonable chance to compete.
The 12th hole is a par 4 at 503 yards, and is into a stiff ocean breeze. The tee shot plays uphill unless you can fly the ball 300 yards to the top of the hill. All three of us hit our drives into the hill leaving us 270 yards to a back pin. Well good luck to the mere mortals that hit their 3 medal 240-250. Hogarth made his 10 footer for par while Craig Davis and I missed ours.
This was a stretch of holes when I went double bogey in 11 (215 yard par three into the wind) bogey 5 on 12, bogey 6 on the 13th, bogey on 14 and 15. I played that stretch 6 over par, while the younger generation had short shots into most of these holes.
The fact that the match play cut was -2 over the 36 holes of qualifying blows my mind. 32 players out of 156 shot 2 under par or better at a VERY tough test of golf. Granted the North Course is easier, but at over 7,000 yards long its no slouch.
Some of these kids (by kids I mean under 25 years old) are 5 foot 8 inches tall and 150 pounds and there are driving the ball in excess of 300 yards. These courses are now all lengthened and if you don’t bomb it, forget about how good your short game may be. In our group of the 3 oldest players in the tournament by a lot at ages 54-Tim Hogarth 58-Craig Davis and me at 61 there is just no chance for us to compete on a course this long when we kill a drive on a hole and have a 6 iron from 180, the kids have bombed a drive and they have a wedge from 140. Good luck with that!
Despite my ankle injury, I was determined to go out of this event playing with these two legendary players. Tim Hogarth has won EVERYTHING, and has played in the Masters. He’s won the Cal State Am, the USGA Public Links and about a thousand other local events. Craig Davis is another winner with a resume that includes his recent win in Scotland at the Senior Amateur against the best senior field in the world.
So I was thrilled to play with them, and actually had both of them with 9 holes to go on Torrey South. But as I played poorly, Tim got his act together and played beautifully on the back nine. I had a one shot lead over Craig going to the 18th hole, and proceeded to make bogey while Craig made a finishing birdie. So I ended up behind both of these stalwart players and enjoyed every second with them.
What I’ve learned is that I need to soak up all the great privileges and beautiful things while my senses are still acute. The beauty at Torrey Pines is stunning with the steep cliff that falls 500 feet down to the beach. I am so impressed with how the course looks with its 1000 trees taken out, it is open and beautiful. This is a must play course.
Check this out:
You can follow the progress of the Cal State Am here:
Stay tuned for some great photos I took at Torrey Pines
The wild ride of life continues, while I was on the 6th hole at Olympic Lake, while in the green side bunker I saw that my doctor was calling for the third time. I told my playing mates to play the hole out while I took the call.
I had an MRI at 7:15 am the day before on my left ankle that I re-injured while working in my new vegetable garden, I knew something was wrong, but didn’t know just how bad it is. Now I do, my Doc said I have a severely sprained ligament and also a torn ligament in my left ankle- here is the medical verbiage:
MR ANKLE LEFT – Details
1. Moderate sprains of the anterior tibiofibular and anterior talofibular
ligaments. Tear of the calcaneofibular ligament from the calcaneus.
2. Minimal tenosynovitis of the peroneus longus tendon.
3. Mild sinus Tarsi syndrome.
4. Minimal retrocalcaneal bursitis
Electronically signed by: Chan, Lawrence, M.D.
He said “NO GOLF” and you should be using your crutches. He then heard the wind blowing in my cell phone and asked me where I was. I said I was in the green side bunker at the Olympic Club on the 6th hole. He then replied “Randy are you crazy, you have a serious injury that will probably need surgery”.
I calmly said Doc if I cannot make this worse by playing golf, I am going to play next week in the California State Amateur in San Diego. He then replied “Randy, I highly advise against it, you need to see the Orthopedic Surgeon again” While on the course I tried to reach my surgeon, but was unable to, so off to San Diego I will go.
Perhaps the CA State Am will again result in a 200 drop in my WAGR (world amateur golf ranking) but I just don’t care. This will be my last California State Am and I am paired with legendary Tim Hogarth (he’s played in the Masters as an amateur) and Craig Davis last years British Senior Amateur Champion. So I am not missing to hand for two days with my two ole pals I’ve known for a very long time.
So why am I able to even play golf with a sprained and torn Ligament? Remember I actually won the Oakland City last weekend, while not 100%. But because I am taking massive doses of Optimend https://activz.com/go/optimend/?dist=1007777
And I have a new pair of Golf Shoes that have given my side ankle better support than any shoes I’ve ever worn. The are also the most comfortable shoes I’ve worn, they are like wearing a tennis shoe but with better support and comfort. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU CHECK THESE NEW SHOES OFFERED BY STRAIGHT DOWN GOLF.
these are the ones I have. They have some great technology that has nailed the perfect golf shoe in my experience.
If you decide to buy a pair, please give me a review as I’d love to know what you think?
So off to San Diego I will go today, with practice rounds on Friday and Saturday, Sunday I’ll rest my ankle and then off at 10:10 on Torrey North Course with my approved golf cart. Do I feel guilty about taking a cart….? Hell no, why should I, I would not be able to play without it since they are not allowing caddies.
My good pal Brad is coming down to play the practice rounds ($100 a hole game) and then will not be able to hang with me. Originally he was going to caddy, and I was going to walk, but there is no way I can carry my bag and walk those long courses.
So what is the under/over on what I will shoot. Here is what I think- North Course Day 1- 76 South Course Day 2 78=154
At Poppy Hills two weeks ago walking with a push cart I chopped to 77-79=156 so perhaps 154 total at Torrey will be satisfying. The chance of going from the top 156 Amateurs in the STATE to making match play of the top 32…..chance is less than 5%.
We will see, so stay tuned and I’ll be taking photos of both courses before the gun goes off on Monday.
I don’t promote this blog, if you like it, then share it with someone that might enjoy some of my crazy adventures and ideas on golf, equipment, balls and shoes.
sorry no time to edit out the mistakes today:)
This blog has never been about ads or touting products, yet I have shared some stock ideas with you. But today I am going to share with you an article that was released in yesterdays Global Golf Post, read this for starters.
After suffering a debilitating problem with my left ankle and horrible tennis elbow and other aches and pains, I consulted my good friend Dr. Rish Patel. Rish is a rock-star pain management doctor, highly educated and skilled. Rish traveled with me to Scotland two years ago to attempt to qualify for the Senior Open when it was at the Old Course. He is a great golfer with a zero handicap, but an even better person!
Rish is on the Medical Advisory Board of a health and wellness company called ACTIVZ Global, along with several other highly regarded doctors, not like these quack doctors peddling their non effective pills.
One of the products they offer is called Optimend which basically is Turmeric and Curcumin. I’ve heard of both of these before, and know that many people take Turmeric supplements. The difference with Optimend is the ingredients contains a special metabolite of curcumin, called tetrahydrocurcumin, that by itself is more bioavailable than regular curcumin. Next, it’s wrapped in a CyLoc™ dextrin molecular “cage” and specially treated with DexKeyTM technology that unlocks the molecule at the precise place and time to release its power into your body with maximum absorbability.
I didn’t know that Turmeric and Curcumin where not easily absorbed In our body in their natural form. Rish explained that I can take a large dose of Optimend with no side effects, so that when I was in pain, I’d take large doses of Optimend (4-6 capsules).
I did this before and after my ankle surgery I had in December 11th 2019. I was shocked that after my cast came off on December 27th when I saw how normal my left ankle looked. I was able to play my first round of golf on Jan 8th, and again on the 9th walking carrying my own bag.
All of our bodies are filled with inflammation, and we do various things to reduce this condition. Previous to Optimend my doctors prescribed 500MG NABUMETONE which was killing my stomach, and giving me bad stomach cramps. I have always tried avoiding taking Advil and other pain meds as I know they are not good for me. With Optimend I can take something natural that has NO side effects in larger doses when in pain.
Do what you will, but if you try Optimend I know you’ll be as surprised as I was on the results. Up to you, but Dr Rish has my respect and thanks for recommending this amazing product to me. There is a link in the article that has more information on Optimend and how to buy it.
STAY TUNED FOR THE BEST GOLF SHOES I’VE EVER WORN
It doesn’t matter if your playing you pals in a $2-$2-$4 game or you have a one shot lead in the US Open with 3 holes to play. Self inflicted pressure is what makes our hearts, putting strokes and swings faster under this pressure.
Some players can handle it, even thrive on it, like Tiger Woods for example. When he is in the hunt, other players feel the crushing pressure like a Tiger pouncing on a poor outmatched Elk ready to become a tasty meal.
When golfers practice, what is hard to do is to practice while replicating the intense pressure that golfers feel while under siege in a situation that is important to them. This weekend as I posted earlier I entered the 98th Oakland City at my beloved Lake Chabot Golf course I played as a kid growing up in the area. I knew the field of roughly 25 players would be relatively easy, and anything other than a win would be a disappointment. Sounds cocky perhaps, but without that approach why even compete.
On Friday I played a practice round with three friends, and one of them had not yet entered the event. I talked John into entering and was hopeful that he would play well to put additional heat on me during the event. In the first round he shot 71 and I had 68. We had separated ourselves from the field, looking like a two man battle for the win.
We both got off to good starts with par par birdie on 1-3. On the 4th hole I had a 2 footer for birdie that I yipped, while John made his. On #5 I again missed a two footer for par, giving up another shot to John, and on #7 I again three putted from 20 feet to give up my 3 shot lead.
But on the 8th hole a tough par 3 hole up a steep hill, I hit a 6 iron to 5 feet while John pulled up short. His chip was poorly hit leaving him 20 feet uphill. He left his par putt short, then missed his 18 inch putt making a crushing double and putting me back up 2.
We both made good putts on 8 and 9 for birdie par, and again on #10 John left a 4 foot birdie putt short. So back and forth we went with a lot of visible choking looking like neither of us was capable of taking over control of this Championship.
That changed temporarily on 11 and 12 where I went birdie birdie to take a commanding 4 shot lead, that extended to 5 shots when John again missed a short putt on the 13th hole. So with a 5 shot lead with 5 holes to go, you’d think I would be able to just now relax and play steady golf. That did not happen.
If I was just playing golf I would have played these last holes 2-3 under par, as they are the easy holes at Lake Chabot, especially the downhill 18th hole that plays to a par 6. Instead I flew the green on 14 and made bogey, 4 up. On 15 I hooked my tee shot against the fence left and chipped out for another bogey, 3 up. On the 16th hole I had a 25 foot birdie putt that I lagged to 2 feet and missed with a yipped push and jolt of my body. So now I had the tough uphill par 3 17th hole where I made a solid par to right the ship while John made bogey to get 3 back with the 18th hole left.
NORMALLY A 3 shot lead is safe, but not on a hole like this. I hit a good drive that did not roll down the hill, and I followed it with a poor second lay up shot I hit way right. John had only 180 left to the green making a 3 possible. I then chunked my 3 shot short of the green and had the same shot John did from short of the green. The pin was on a very small back ledge that meant long was out of the question so short it was, leaving me a very slow steep uphill putt. John hit a good chip to 6 feet below the hole, and of course I’m thinking if I three putt this and he makes his, we’ll be tied.
This is NOT the way to think, I needed to just focus on hitting a solid putt and getting out of there with a 6 on the hole. I fortunately hit a good putt to 2 feet and decided to just finish it before the putting demons had a chance to creep into my body. I quickly stepped up to the putt and knocked it in. Fortunately for me this ended John’s comeback. But had he made a few more short putts during the round, this would have been his win, not mine.
There is no lesson here because despite winning the event, I know that with stronger competition I would not have played well enough to win. Coming from behind is easier than holding onto the lead. Just look at what world #1 did with an 8 shot lead with nine holes to play. He won by 3 and it could have been even closer if Ryan Palmer could have made a putt. Ryan kept cutting across his putts, which I believe was a result of the pressure. He has not won a significant individual event in a very long time.
I think that John Rahm is a great player, but showed us all what playing in the lead is like on a tough course. Justin Thomas showed is the same last week when he was 3 up with three to go and lost.
So how should a golfer deal with a pressure situation that makes it hard to breath, and certainly hard to swing smoothly, and putt with confidence. I’ve tried Beta blockers, Kava Kava, CBD, breathing exercises, hypnosis, sports psychology along with many other things that I have experimented with. I even tried a flask of vodka that helped the putting but didn’t do much for my motor skills.
What I have found the most helpful during these situation will sound obvious, but do work. #1 stay in your routine, don’t take more time than normal, just stay in the same routine you always go through. #2 you must breath from deep in your belly, get as much Oxygen in your system as possible. Most players are holding their breath and making it impossible to perform. And lastly and #3 is you must visualize the result you want, meaning visualize the perfect stroke and the ball rolling on the line you’ve chosen and into the hole. When hitting a shot, visualize the flight, trajectory and result. DO NOT Look at the trouble and try to steer away from it.
All of this is easier said than done. This all takes work, if you want to be the best in your respective arena against the players you compete against, then practice having the confidence to know you will prevail against them.
I hope you find some of this helpful, it will ultimately help me as writing these things is a constant reminder of what I need to work on.
|98th Annual Oakland City Championship Round 2 Leaderboard|
98th Annual Oakland City Championship Senior Championship – Senior Champ
|Pos.||Player||Total To Par Gross||R1||R2||Total Gross|
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
I just recently wrote about the single plane golf swings of Bryson and Moe Norman. But today I am here to write about Bryson whom I met when he was 7 years old coming out of his family pool in Clovis CA.
The media and some golf fans have been brutal on Bryson citing slow play, over confidence and other crap that I am sick of hearing about. I believe I am one of the few amateurs that have competed against both Tiger and Bryson DeChambeau. I met Bryson as a young lad because I was good friends with his dad Jon. I played in many NCGA events with Jon DeChambeau, especially when he was paired with PGA Tour winner Matt Bettencourt in best ball events (they won most of them)
So here is the inside scoop on Bryson vs. Tiger as how they treated me. From 1994-1996 I was paired or played with Tiger 3 times. He was never that interested in me, or who or what I was all about. He was a super talent that had little time to connect with a guy that was not meeting him in the finals of the US Amateur. I was invited by Buddy Marucci to play in a practice round in 1996 at Pumpkin Ridge with him, John Harris and Tiger. I declined and played ahead of them. I knew that any practice round with Tiger would only make me feel uncertain about my game and my chances in the amateur.
In 1994 I did beat Tiger out for Sports Writers California Player of the Year, but that was the only time I would beat Tiger out of anything. Don’t get me wrong, a player like Tiger comes along every 100 years, maybe more. BUT I did have a very different experience with Bryson.
Just 7 years ago when the California State Amateur was played at Monterey Peninsula CC I was thrilled to be playing this Nor Cal gem, after Pebble Beach decided to shut us out. But in 2013 the challenge was the 30-50 mph winds we experienced during the qualifying rounds. I was paired with the defending champion and because of our tee time rotation we had zero chance of making match play.
In that field was a guy named Bryson DeChambeau (#10 in the world) Xander Schauffele (#11 in the world) and Maverick Mc Nealy (tied for 8th today and made $211,875). Some serious studs, but what I will always remember is when Bryson saw me walking to the parking lot after my second round. He was on the first tee and about to tee off. I saw him see me and walk off the tee towards me, take off his unique cap and say “Mr. Haag, its so great to see you, I’ve been following you for all these years and I remember when we met”. I am telling you that I was VERY impressed with Bryson and am still impressed with him to this day where he knocked down his 6th PGA event.
Every Northern California Golf Fan should be rooting hard for this kid Bryson. Despite what you may think, he is humble, he is the real deal, and he is from Northern California. I have a few other great stories about Bryson that make me smile like when I saw him at Oakmont for the 2016 US Open where he told me he was going to putt side saddle on the PGA tour once he officially got his tour card. Bryson did putt side saddle until the PGA/USGA gave him trouble about the putter he was using. To this day I am not sure what the possible violating was, or why he stopped?
So at the 2013 California State Amateur Bryson, Maverick and I all shot 77 in this horrifically high winds in the first round. They were both in their late teems, I was in my mid 50’s. I was not expecting to win the event, but certainly was looking to make match play and take some of the kids down. Bryson made match play on the number 149, I missed by 4 shooting a disappointing 153. But Bryson despite his low seed advanced to the finals and lost a close match in the finals.
Since that date in 2013 Bryson has won the NCAA individual title, the USGA Amateur and now winner of 6 PGA tour titles. He has done something I have NEVER seen before in golf. He has dedicated himself to be the very best player he can be. How he’s done this by transforming his body into a powerful mass of muscle and flexible body parts. I have never ever seen such a transformation in a body in such a short period of time.
People, Bryson is not Superman, but through his own drive and desire to be the best he can be, he has done something very few can do with the dedication and drive to make himself Into the ultimate golfing machine. Like sir Nick and Jim said on CBS, if Bryson dials in his wedge game it could be all over for the rest of the players.
The truth be told, Bryson is a very sensitive and caring person like his mom and dad. he grew up in a good environment with seeing the love and drive his dad had for the game. But Bryson was never dragged to the course, at an early age he fell in love with the game that he know dominates against the best players in the world.
OK JUST A FEW STATS- Bryson averaged with his driver over 350 yards, well ahead of phenom Matthew Wolfe. Bryson has gone from a driving average of 291+ to over 320 yards per drive. His fairways hit number has actually improved. So what your seeing is Tigeresq and is something the golf world has never seen in such a short period of time.
Maybe some of my stats are not 100% accurate, but what is accurate is this kids drive and passion to be the best he can be, perhaps the best in the world. So I say lets all root for him to win his first major at Harding Park. Even better yet, lets bet on him to win the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park.
Yes the rough is going to be brutal, but Bryson will be flying the ball further than anyone else, and when he does find the nasty rough, he’ll have 130 left, not 175 by the average player and that will be the difference maker.
So my advice to you is BET on Bryson to win the PGA Championship and stare down the likes of Dustin, Brooks and Tiger in the process as he win his 1st of many majors.
Common Nor Cal fans and all golf fans, support this PHENOM, he is the real deal!!!