I haven’t had a great round this year, but my last time out was a real good one. I got to thinking about the common threads shared between good rounds. My findings:
Thread One. The driver is clicking. On most of my great rounds, I’m hitting it hard, on the center of the face, and finding fairways. Great driving makes the game so much easier. Even easier than great putting because sometimes you are striking it poorly, putting great, and scrambling for par. During these great rounds, my putter was not that hot in terms of total putts, which probably had to do with a high number of GIRs I hit. If my driver is good and I hit 14 or 15 greens, I can live with 33 or 34 putts because I’m still going to be around level par. If I hit 15 greens and take 27 putts, I’m doing the wrong thing for a living. Anyway, the big stick is the key.
Thread Two. I’m playing with better players. Several of these rounds were in competition and the presence of excellent players. Wanting to do well against them sharpened my concentration. In my most recent round, I joined a single for the front nine at my club. He had a decent game and generally played bogey golf. I shot three or four over. But at the turn, we were joined by a couple young guys who played at scratch or better. As we progressed, I was hitting the ball well and these guys were blowing it by me. But I felt some weird juices start to flow and played very solid on the inward half. All three of us had a few birdies and kept it around even par. It was very cool and I thoroughly enjoyed testing my game against younger stronger players. A couple years back, a similar thing happened. I was getting ready to play at my local muni and was joined by two of the course’s pros on the first tee. Same story as these guys were ripping it miles past me off the tee, but I played my game and really concentrated well. My friend, Jim at TheGratefulGolfer wrote a nice piece on the aspect of playing with better players. Check it out.
This better player phenomena can be a double-edge sword if you are not hitting the driver well or are intimidated. Back in the 1980s, I was working as an apprentice in the Mid Atlantic PGA Section. About two dozen assistant pros gathered for our summer meeting at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland. This is where they hold annual U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and after our meeting we agreed to have a tournament among ourselves. I’m thinking, “crap”; hard course, tough competition, and normally club pros play in all kinds of events, but mostly pro-ams and in the company of amateur partners with inferior games. Not the case here, plus this was my first tournament playing against professionals. I knew all these guys were way better than me and I was sick with fear and intimidation. Needless to say, the day did not go well. I shot an 86 and finished last.
Thread three: You play the right set of tees. Let’s re-phrase: You never have a great round playing from the wrong tees. In my recent round, on the first tee, I told my front nine companion I would play the blue tees and he should play any set that he wanted. He replied, “I probably shouldn’t but I will play the blues with you.” He was right, and you could see him pressing all day. Plus, when the big hitters joined us, we all played from the blues and this poor fellow let that get in his head.
So those are mine, do you have any common threads during your great rounds? Please share and play well!